Elaine Ikoma Ko

Elaine Ikoma Ko is the former Executive Director of the Hokubei Hochi Foundation, a nonprofit that helps The North American Post, Seattle’s Japanese community newspaper, where this article was first published. She is a member of the U.S.-Japan Council, an alumnus of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) to Japan, and leads spring and autumn group tours to Japan.

Updated April 2021

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Frank Abe’s Search for an Authentic History

After a successful media career, Frank Abe has produced acclaimed literary and film works on resistance to Japanese American incarceration — a living legacy more relevant than ever today. His latest contribution is a graphic novel, We Hereby Refuse (2021), a comic-book format that is anything but a funny book. Below, we explore why this book has found such a receptive audience, its connection with the classic novel No-No Boy (1957), Frank’s biography of the novel’s author, John Okada (2018), and why so many locations in Seattle are part of this history. *...

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identity en ja

Bruce Harrell — ‘Love Has Been the Fuel in My Tank’ - Part 2

Read Part 1 >> What was the key inspiration for you to first run for office on the Seattle City Council in 2007? My key inspiration to run for office in 2007 was that it was simply my time to serve. I had previously worked for the City Council in 1980. By 2007, I had experienced great success as a lawyer and business owner and I had vast experience in working with so many clients over the decades, including employees, employers, nonprofits, technologists, professionals, laborers, educators, community groups, clubs and churches — you name it. I felt that my experience in what i...

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identity en ja

Bruce Harrell — ‘Love Has Been the Fuel in My Tank’ - Part 1

Bruce Harrell, former Seattle City Council member for twelve years (2007-2019), has rare life experience as a biracial child of an African American father and Japanese American mother. Growing up in Seattle in the 1960s-70s, his background has shaped his outlook, his family values, and ultimately, his vision for Seattle as he runs for mayor this summer and fall. If elected, he would be Seattle’s second Black and first Asian American mayor. * * * * * Please tell us about your family’s history in Seattle — starting with your grandparents and then how your father met your m...

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identity en

Bill Tashima: Gaining His Identity and Acceptance - Part 3

Read Part 2 >> Bill, the earlier period was obviously a hard time for you. Today you are married to your husband, Chris, and have a stepson, Colby. Can you talk about your current family and how you moved forward with your life? This part is both “storybook” and “commonplace” at the same time. I did not go out socially for years after Lou’s death. When I was ready to start seeing people again, I was terrified. How do you put yourself “back on the market” when you are in your 50s? The storybook part is that I met the perfect match in Ch...

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identity en

Bill Tashima: Gaining His Identity and Acceptance - Part 2

Read part 1 >> What were the internal conflicts you struggled with? How did you manage it or how did it impact you from the standpoint of your mental health, personal self-image, and confidence? I loved my parents and they raised me to be proud of my JA heritage. We went to movies that featured JA actors. I remember seeing Go for Broke (1951) in the 1950s and they taught me to persevere if taunted about being JA. But they also instilled the thought that somehow my actions reflected on all other JAs, so if I did something wrong, then it would be a mark against not only our famil...

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