Sharon Yamato

Sharon Yamato is a writer and filmmaker in Los Angeles. She has produced and directed two documentary films, Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn, and A Flicker in Eternity. She also wrote Moving Walls: Preserving the Barracks of America’s Concentration Camps. She has written articles for the Los Angeles Times, and is currently a columnist for The Rafu Shimpo. She has served as a consultant for the Japanese American National Museum, Go For Broke National Education Center, and has conducted oral history interviews for Densho in Seattle.

Updated June 2014

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The Radicalization of a Poet and a Pastor: Diane C. Fujino on Nisei Radicals Mitsuye Yamada and S. Michael Yasutake

It took an engaged scholar like Diane C. Fujino to tell the story of the lives of two extraordinary siblings—poet Mitsuye Yamada and Reverend S. Michael Yasutake—with a deep dive into turbulent Nisei waters. Fujino’s previous work has included books on such audacious Japanese Americans as civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama and prominent Black Panther member Richard Aoki. Always managing to cast a new light on Japanese American history, Fujino’s latest book, Nisei Radicals: The Feminist Poetics and Transformative Ministry of Mitsuye Yamada and Michael Yasutake, again challenges the traditional perception of Nisei as submissive assimilationists who became part …

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Kizuna 2020: Nikkei Kindness and Solidarity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Giving Thanks During COVID

What began last March as a few months of social distancing has now turned into the prospect of long-term isolation as COVID19 increases at a staggering rate. As a proud member of the senior population considered “high risk,” I can personally attest to the stresses and strains of home confinement.

Perhaps the greatest deprivation has been the loss of social interaction except for who we can see on a phone or computer screen — with Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom becoming regular activities, not to mention rising to Webster dictionary status of actual verbs. I still yearn for the social connections …

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Kizuna 2020: Nikkei Kindness and Solidarity During the COVID-19 Pandemic

EO9066 vs. COVID-19

I’ve been struggling with what more to say about the pandemic now known as the worst disaster of our lifetimes. I don’t ever remember feeling this fearful and uncertain about the future, particularly knowing as infection and death statistics grow with steady predictability, this highly contagious virus will most certainly infect someone I love, many of whom are in the dangerous high-risk age group.

In the midst of this immediate fear, I realized that most of us baby boomers and younger don’t have the first-hand experience of that other terrifying time in American history when our families were stripped of …

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Tule Lake History Passed on from Father to Son: Iwao and Hiroshi Shimizu

Tule Lake Committee chair Hiroshi Shimizu attended his first Tule Lake Pilgrimage in 1994, clutching a folder of papers written in Japanese. He had seen an article announcing the pilgrimage in the Hokubei Mainichi, the former Northern California daily newspaper that his father, Iwao, not only helped to start but also served as its Japanese editor for nearly 25 years. Hiroshi was curious about the place where he had spent time as a child, even though he had always considered Topaz his “home camp” since that’s where he was born. Still, not knowing much about Tule Lake he was …

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Cultural Merging and Identity: A Fourth-Generation Okinawan Japanese Peruvian American Speaks Out

Michelle Yamashiro has been told she has little trouble expressing herself. The vibrant 28-year-old Nikkei is not sure whether her outspokenness comes from her Japanese Peruvian parents, who taught her to “think critically and to have an opinion,” or from her Okinawan grandparents, who wanted her to know and understand their tri-continental family history. Whatever the origin, the former interim director of the youth empowerment group, Kizuna, wants others to share her proud passion for learning about and sharing family history and culture—regardless of how diverse and turbulent the past might be.

Hers is a complex family history that’s not …

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