When news fled all over my Facebook that we had lost a well-respected Japanese-American womxn activist earlier this month named Yuri Kochiyama– I was sad to realize I had never heard her name before. I did not know who this leader of change was and had been living my life of newly found “consciousness” without even acknowledging the progressive impact she made for us, through the relationships she fostered and had the unwavering resilience to forge. I saw posts from my friends in Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies who were thankful to have learned about such a strong-minded and will-powered Asian-American activist that they could identify with. Now, I don’t regret taking the pathway I chose at the university because in many ways, it truly shaped me to become the advocate for equality I am today– but I do hope that in the years to come, this womxn of change will be recognized and acknowledged more than our system deems appropriate. I hope stories like Yuri’s do not get pushed over to the edge of our textbook pages (if the narrative is even printed) where we often misread, misinterpret, or even skim over and miss ultimately. Reading about her crossings with Malcolm X and seeing the visual image of her holding Malcom X when he was assassinated was an inspiring moment in my online research life. Yuri Kochiyama, you truly paved the way for both Asian-American/womxn activists and played an integral part in building the bridge to heal this still-present gap between the oppressed.
Oh and– I just realized we share the same birthday… and you know I believe that’s a powerful force in itself.
“Remember that consciousness is power. Consciousness is education and knowledge. Consciousness is becoming aware. It is the perfect vehicle for students. Consciousness-raising is pertinent for power, and be sure that power will not be abusively used, but used for building trust and goodwill domestically and internationally. Tomorrow’s world is yours to build.”
Photo Credit: http://interactioninstitute.org