By Jenalyn Sotto, Communications Intern at the Asian Law Caucus
This coming Monday, January 30th California will celebrate its 2nd annual Fred Korematsu Day in commemoration of the struggle for justice our Japanese American community faced during and after WWII. With the specter of 9/11 haunting our Middle Eastern, Arab, and South Asian American communities in ways similarly faced by the Japanese American community following the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, Fred Korematsu Day stands as a reminder of the need for vigilance in protecting civil rights. American citizens and residents should not have to incur dramatic alterations to self–like eyelids or surnames–just to fit in, avoid surveillance, or–more drastically–evade unwarranted and indefinite detention for crimes one had nothing to do with. Korematsu Day is a reminder that racailization is an invalid means of ensuring national security when it is one’s own nationals being targeted. And while in the U.S., that might seem ambiguous, just peruse the “The Struggle for Justice” website for a fuller perspective on how racialization operates against the tenets of life, liberty, and the American Bill of Rights.
While Korematsu Day is a California state holiday, across the nation in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian now includes the civil rights activism Fred Korematsu and his team of pro-bono attorneys stood for. The first Asian American in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Civil Rights Exhibition, the work and message of Korematsu Day represents the first of many steps necessary to achieving social justice in the United States. Below are links to the Korematsu Institute press release on the unveiling of the Fred Korematsu installations at the “The Struggle for Justice” exhibit as well as a link to other Korematsu Day events throughout the Bay Area:
2. Korematsu Day Events in the Bay Area: Fred Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education: Fred Korematsu Day Events