Category Archives: “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.

Here’s a first look at the final book cover. The book will be published in paperback with front and back fold-in flaps.

WHR final cover art

We encourage purchases through your local independent bookseller. If there is none near you, the preferred online seller is Bookshop.org, which supports local bookstores.Bookshop.org logo

 

Pre-orders are said to be strong. The book is being distributed by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, with close to 1,000 from independent booksellers and online sources, so much so that the distributor contacted our publisher, Chin Music Press, to be sure to print enough copies in the first run. They’re being printed by a family-owned business in the U.S.

Columbia Magazine coverColumbia Magazine has just published an eight-page excerpt from the graphic novel as the cover story of its Spring 2021 issue. It’s a first for the venerable journal of the Washington State Historical Society, but a good fit given the Columbia Magazine pagesmaterial’s faithfulness to regional history.

Look for other advance coverage of our book release in the Sacramento Bee, South Seattle Emerald, International Examiner, Discover Nikkei, and the “APEX Express” radio magazine on KPFA-FM in Berkeley.

A number of virtual book events are now set for the rollout, with a continually updated list here. If you would like speakers for your group, please use this form to Contact Us.

SEATTLE, WA
Friday, April 9, 1:30pm PDT
Association for Asian American Studies virtual conference

Association for Asian American Studies logoGraphic novels open the door to alternative narratives from hitherto-marginalized communities, while increasing student engagement. For the panel, “Unsettling the Japanese American Narrative Through the Graphic Novel,” authors Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura will present excerpts from We Hereby Refuse that unsettle familiar victim narratives of Japanese American incarceration. Professors Caroline Hong of Queens College CUNY and Alison Mandaville of Cal State Fresno will analyze the work and place it within the larger field of counternarratives and resistance narratives in Asian American Studies.

SANTA CRUZ, CA
Monday, May 24, 2021, 12:00 pm PDT
UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz logoPresenting We Hereby Refuse to Prof. Brenda Sanfilippo’s class on Contemporary American Literature.

LOS ANGELES, CA
Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 9:30-10:45 am PDT
UCLA Asian American Studies 

UCLA logoPresenting We Hereby Refuse  to Prof. Kelly Fong’s class on “The Asian American Movement,” with video streamed to the UCLA community.  This program is co-sponsored by the George and Sakaye Aratani CARE Award, UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

Seattle Public Library logoSEATTLE, WA
Monday, June 14, 2021, 6:00 am PDT
Seattle Public Library author series

Authors Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura and artist Ross Ishikawa debut We Hereby Refuse for Seattle library patrons. Co-sponsored by Densho and the Elliott Bay Book Company.

National Endowment for the Humanities logoCODY/POWELL, WY
Thursday, June 24 and July 22, 2021, 10:15-11:15 am MDT
Heart Mountain, Wyoming and the Japanese American Incarceration

Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation logo

Frank Abe speaks to educators at both sessions of this NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Virtual Workshop  on the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, our film Conscience and the Constitution, and our graphic novel We Hereby Refuse. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and hosted by the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.

LOS ANGELES, CA
Saturday, June 26, 2021, 2:00 pm PDT
Japanese American National Museum

JANM eventSouthern California book launch for We Hereby Refuse. Authors Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura will read from the graphic novel and describe the process of dramatizing a history that overturns the usual expectations around camp stories, with a special focus on segregation at Tule Lake. Artist Ross Ishikawa will share his use of 3-D modeling to recreate scenes from Japanese American history, and YURI Education Project creators will demonstrate a free online curriculum that accompanies the book. $10 and free for members. This program is co-sponsored by the George and Sakaye Aratani CARE Award, UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

Other programs are in the works. If you would like speakers for your group, please use this form to Contact Us.

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:

SEATTLE, WA
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.

SEATTLE, WA
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.

PUYALLUP, WA
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]

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, MN
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]

SAN JOSE, CA
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.

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

In Memoriam: Hiroshi Kashiwagi — poet, playwright, no-no, and renunciant

Hiroshi with Frank AbeHiroshi Kashiwagi once confided that when he was young he felt his real calling was as an actor. He had the soul of a poet, modest and soft-spoken, until he got on stage. Then he could command a voice that was measured and determined, almost Shakespearean in tone. He held a strong sense of right and wrong, and pushed himself to write and to study public speaking in order to be heard. Continue reading In Memoriam: Hiroshi Kashiwagi — poet, playwright, no-no, and renunciant

“NO-NO BOY” and “JOHN OKADA” in NY Times and American Book Awards

You’d never expect John Okada and the entire literature of Japanese American incarceration to be featured in the Style magazine of the New York Times … but thanks to the passionate interest of Thessaly La Force, features director for T: The New York Times Style Magazine, her deeply felt essay is now online. It will appear in print in the Sunday Times edition on November 17th.T: The New York Times Style Magazine

Many thanks to Thessaly for reaching out to Shawn Wong and myself to learn more about this history, and the life and work of John Okada in particular. The literature of Japanese American incarceration is a field that JOHN OKADA co-editor Floyd Cheung and I are researching for a new anthology scheduled for 2021.

Floyd was not present, but Greg Robinson and I were, when our volume on John Okada was honored Friday with an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.

American Book Award recipients onstage

Here are my prepared remarks for the acceptance: Continue reading “NO-NO BOY” and “JOHN OKADA” in NY Times and American Book Awards

Retracing the steps of the Minidoka draft resisters

While in Idaho for a symposium, I took the opportunity to research settings for the forthcoming graphic novel on camp resistance, in particular the places where the draft resisters from Minidoka were jailed and put on trial in September, 1944.

Ada County Courthouse, Boise

With the Friends of Minidoka — Hanako Wakatsuki, Mia Russell, and Kurt Yokoyama Ikeda — we started at the Ada County Courthouse, where Jim and Gene Ada County Courthouse interiorAkutsu and the other draft resisters were brought from camp and held in the old jail on the top floors. We could still see the iron grates over the windows, from where they could look out. The top floors are now sealed off from the public. Continue reading Retracing the steps of the Minidoka draft resisters