Category Archives: “We Hereby Refuse”

Second printing ordered for “We Hereby Refuse”

This is a good news/bad news kind of post. The good news is that We Hereby Refuse has found its audience and flown off the shelves and out of the warehouses. Our first printing of 3,000 has sold out in just three weeks, and Chin Music Press has ordered a second printing of 3,000. Our title has held at #1 in various niche categories on Amazon. Amazon book listing

Thank you all for this tremendous response to our new graphic novel. What it means, however, is that copies near you may be hard to find for the next few weeks. In this blog post, publisher Bruce Rutledge advises that more copies should be landing shortly after the 4th of July holiday:

Chin Music PressIn the life of a small-press publisher, success and struggle can often arrive together. Case in point: We just launched a groundbreaking graphic novel in collaboration with the Wing Luke Museum on May 18 called We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration. The release has been met with immediate acclaim. The Seattle Times calls it “a page-turner.” Readers have snapped up copies at independent booksellers and online sites, and within a week, our initial print run of 3,000 has been exhausted. Time to pop the cork and celebrate a hot seller, right?

Not exactly. Having demand outstrip supply might be seen as a good problem to have, but it has left venues hosting events scrambling to find books to meet pre-orders. University teachers weren’t getting the copies they needed for their students. Readers are going to the authors to ask why the book is shown online as backordered or out-of-stock. Success turned into sleepless nights, a few frustrating phone calls, and lots of calls to the distributor trying to locate supplies.

We’re not complaining. We’re thrilled by the reception for this important book. But as a small press with not-so-deep pockets, rushing back to press on a hot-selling title is not a simple process.

But the good news is: We’ve worked out the kinks and are now going back to press for a second printing of We Hereby Refuse. New copies will be available not long after the 4th of July holiday.

So this is our way of saying, first, thank you for validating our belief in this vital work, and second, our apologies to those waiting for their copy and we ask your patience for a few more weeks. As Paul Constant says in Crosscut, this book is “well worth the wait.” More inventory is coming to a shop near you, any order you make now will be fulfilled, and an e-book is on the way. Everyone with an interest in this part of our American history will have access to this book, and we’re working hard to get them to you.

So please do not be deterred by listings that say “back-ordered” or “out-of-stock.” All orders you place now with your local bookseller and with will soon be fulfilled.

book at Nikkei Traditions
On the shelf at Nikkei Traditions of San Jose Japantown (photo: Pam Yoshida)

If you see a copy at your local bookstore, don’t wait to buy it.  This photo shows copies on the shelf of Nikkei Traditions of San Jose Japantown. The Japanese American National Museum store has a few copies. Amazon still shows it to be in stock but with the strong response to the book, its last reorder of 144 copies will go fast.

Thank you for your patience. And if you’ve received your copy, please leave a review at Amazon, at Goodreads, or the website of your local library. #graphicnovel  #WeHerebyRefuse

“WE HEREBY REFUSE” published today

The day has arrived. It’s been a long journey, but it’s finally May 18, the publication date for We Hereby Refuse.

Bruce Rutledge
Publisher Bruce Rutledge unpacking the first copies of our book.

More than 1,100 books were shipped from the distributor by last Friday, Pre-orders are reportedly still working their way through the distribution chains at and Amazon and may take a few more days to arrive in mailboxes. Continue reading “WE HEREBY REFUSE” published today

Mitsuye Endo is focus of first newspaper feature on “WE HEREBY REFUSE”

Two of the three main characters of We Hereby Refuse were born in Sacramento, so it’s fitting that the first news coverage of the book’s publication should come in their hometown paper.   Continue reading Mitsuye Endo is focus of first newspaper feature on “WE HEREBY REFUSE”

May 18 publication set for “WE HEREBY REFUSE”

The violence against Asian Americans in Atlanta and across the nation is rooted, as many this week have pointed out, in a history of systemic exclusion and racism that includes the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans in WW2. It’s in this moment of heightened awareness that we confirm our graphic novel on that subject will be published on  May 18. Continue reading May 18 publication set for “WE HEREBY REFUSE”

Five events for Day of Remembrance 2021

When we staged the first Day of Remembrance 43 years ago, we had no idea how it would persist to become an invented tradition to be observed wherever Japanese Americans live. This year it’s a weekend more crowded than ever with five events at which I’ve been asked to speak. One consequence of pandemic isolation is the ability to be anywhere with Zoom, so I agreed to two events on Saturday and three on Sunday, covering all angles of resistance to wartime incarceration and the echoes to today:

Saturday, February 20, 2021, 11:00 am PT
Wing Luke Museum virtual tour of INS Building 

Wing Luke DOR tour logoA key scene in our graphic novel We Hereby Refuse takes place inside the U.S. Immigration Station, on the edge of Seattle’s Chinatown, where 100 immigrant Issei were held after their arrest by the FBI two months after  Pearl Harbor. I’ll join the virtual tour as a guest speaker to show scenes from our book of the detention of Jim Akutsu’s father inside the Immigration Station, and also read from my father’s own memoir about his detention there in the 1930’s. Register here.

Saturday, February 20, 2021, 2:00 pm PT
Wing Luke Museum online book launch

Wing Luke book launchCopies of our graphic novel won’t be ready for sale until March, but we’re going ahead with the Day of Remembrance launch of We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration. I’ll unpack how the structure of the book and its narrative arc upend the usual expectations around camp stories, Tamiko Nimura will read from a scene with her uncle Hiroshi Kashiwagi, and artists Ross Ishikawa and Matt Sasaki will break down their process. To get the Zoom link to watch, you’ll need to register here.

Sunday, February 21, 2021, 1:00 pm PT
Tsuru for Solidary car caravan for Seattle’s Day of Remembrance

Tsuru Seattle 2021 graphicIn advance of a Day of Remembrance car caravan from the Puyallup Fairgrounds to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, I’ve recorded a video greeting that links the first Day of Remembrance at the fairgrounds in 1978 to the ongoing need to press for release of asylum-seekers still held at the GEO Group private prison operated on behalf of ICE. “Another Time, Another Place” is sponsored by Tsuru for Solidarity, La Resistencia, Densho, the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee, Seattle JACL, and Puyallup Valley JACL.

[UPDATE: Here’s the four-minute video greeting from the blog’s YouTube channel]

Sunday, Feb.  21, 2021, 4:00 – 6:00 pm CT
Twin Cities JACL Day of Remembrance

Twin Cities DOR graphicA Twin Cities coalition is screening Conscience and the Constitution for its Day of Remembrance, after which I’ll join an online discussion with Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Japanese American and Muslim students from the University of Minnesota. Moderated by Twin Cities JACL chapter president Vinicius Taguchi.

[UPDATE: Watch my opening comments and the post-screening discussion, courtesy of the East Freedom Library YouTube channel]

Sunday, February 21, 2021, 6:00 pm PT
45th anniversary screening of Farewell to Manzanar
West Wind Capitol Drive-in Theater
3630 Hillcap Avenue

Saving the fun one for last: I was a featured actor in the 1976 TV-movie, Farewell to Manzanar, and was prevailed upon by publisher Kenji Taguma to organize and moderate a virtual cast and crew reunion prior to the COVID-safe screening of the film at a San Jose drive-in theater. We just recorded the Zoom gathering and those in their cars at the screening will hear some truly great stories. It’s sponsored by the Nichi Bei Foundation as the closing night event of its 10th anniversary Films of Remembrance series. Read the Nichi Bei Weekly article about it.

[UPDATE: For the live audience at the drive-in, a 20-minute video was screened. Here is the 28-minute “director’s cut,” produced and edited by Greg Viloria, courtesy of the Nichi Bei Foundation YouTube channel]

YouTube preview of forthcoming graphic novel, “We Hereby Refuse”

“Three voices …  Three acts of defiance …  One mass injustice.” That’s one of the taglines for our forthcoming graphic novel which presents an original vision of America’s past with disturbing links to the American present. We had a fast-moving conversation about it on Black Friday, with a special look inside the 3-D modeling by  one of our two artists, Ross Ishikawa, to recreate key scenes based on  historical reality.

Here’s the one-hour JAMP YouTube channel event moderated by Erin Aoyama,  to get you ready for publication on February 9, 2021.

Continue reading YouTube preview of forthcoming graphic novel, “We Hereby Refuse”

First public panel for forthcoming graphic novel

Our graphic novel on Japanese American resistance to wartime incarceration,  WE HEREBY REFUSE, is not due for publication until February — but when doing a project like this, you can’t pass up the opportunity when asked to be part of a panel titled, “Japanese American Voices in Graphic Novels.”

UPDATE October 27: Here is the YouTube program, cued to start with our 5-minute debut of the artwork and story, followed by the panel moderated by librarian Jessica Buck and featuring Mari Nomi, Sarah Kuhn, Kiku Hughes, and Yuko Ota. [The screen is blank but the video does play.]

Continue reading First public panel for forthcoming graphic novel

Sharing “NO-NO BOY” with teachers in six cities

The story of No-No Boy and John Okada is being shared this summer with middle and secondary teachers of history and the humanities in six cities across the nation, as part of a series of place-based online workshops sponsored by the National Japanese American Historical Society of San Francisco and the National Park Service. Continue reading Sharing “NO-NO BOY” with teachers in six cities

In the pandemic of 2020, echoes of 1942

Greetings from the social distance of Seattle, ground zero for COVID-19 in the U.S. Thanks to those who have checked in to see how we’re doing. We’re all fine, and I certainly hope you and those you know are well — like you, continually checking the phone for the latest domino to fall, unable for these first ten days or so to focus on much of anything besides the massive disruption that has upended our world.

closeup of president's remarks
photo: Jabin Botsford, Washington Post

And in this moment, as we wait for the peak of infections to crest, we are starting to see echoes of 1942 in the great pandemic of 2020. We have a nation under attack from a threat which originated in Asia, and which hit America on the Pacific Coast. Anyone with an Asian face becomes a target for racial retaliation. The occupant of the White House belatedly declares himself to be a “wartime president,” and tries to deflect responsibility for his early disease-denial by inflaming the xenophobia of his base and deliberately  branding COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.” Continue reading In the pandemic of 2020, echoes of 1942