They told me not to talk about it.

Religion, Politics & Race


Those were 3 things that I was not to talk about when I decided to move to U.S. from Japan. That was 2003, 16 years ago. And those are the things that I talk about. Not so much about Religion at this moment, unless you want to include spirituality. Being an extreme conservative country that we are, the talk about sexuality & gender equality were not even there. Why? 1) because we don’t understand their culture, or at least didn’t grow up in that culture and we might offend them. 2) For the assumption that our English skill would not meet up to the level of native English speakers. Well, we don’t talk about it, because we don’t understand? That’s a remedy for more problems. This is a human topic. Without talking about it, how would I learn? Without paying attention, how would we serve the world and the community?


That being said, I’m probably the wrong person to talk about this. Because for the past almost 10 years, I lived in a bubble. I put myself in there, locked from inside and threw my keys away. Because it literally made me sick. It physically made me sick till the point that I wanted to throw up every time I watched the news. It was devastating. It was daunting. It was “I’m not going to pay attention to these because these are not bringing me joy”. Spiritual arrogance is a real thing. I never watched TV, I mean who has a TV in the city? I didn’t even have a Netflix, because I know could get sucked in to it. But, social media has always given me a minimal information that I needed to know. Even in that, I was resistant. Because I couldn’t stand the physical reaction. The tension, the nausea, the anxiety… I hated that.


So what changed? ART happened. I mean, what else?


Earlier this year I was invited to speak at NYU SPS for “Being an immigrant and artist”. Then that lead to the next opportunity. “I AM” Series was invited to have a workshop for them with the theme “Crime & Punishment” : Mass Incarceration. I am Asian, Immigrant, Female. Just for that fact, I wanted to disqualify myself. I don’t know anything about this topic. Why should anyone in the right mind would listen to me? But I know I was committed and wanted to share these amazing artists that I was able to connect. The more I studied and spoke with people, I was blown way. As much as I had question for them, they were really wanted to share their stories and wanted to help me out. This, Asian Immigrant, Female. I was ready for the backlash. Why is she trying to do this? She doesn’t know anything. This is a joke. But no. They really wanted to help me out. Why, because my vision was clear. My part in this was very clear.


1) The focus is on Art.

2) The intention was to celebrate and honor the participation.

3) I was there to create a ripple effect with art.


Just like I was, some people might be intimidated by this topic, “Let’s talk about incarceration, politics, and discrimination” might be a turn off for someone. But “Let’s watch this documentary together and talk”, that creates a possibility. Then that leads to my second & third points. Sharing that art, whether that is an artist themselves, or a piece of their work, sharing that on its own, create ripple effects. Even before that, their participation on its own, the ripple effects have already been created. I wanted people to start celebrate for that. They took an action. Seeing the “Small” action as a win. It’s not nothing. They’ve planted a seed in them. And last but not least, this was possible, because I am either black & brown nor caucasian. I don’t belong anywhere, and because of that exact reason, I could just be anywhere and everywhere, share about this. And bring different audience demographic into this conversation. Art shifts the passive education to active learning & sparked curiosity. I am proud to find out that what I thought my deficit turned out to be the best asset.



Find what works for you in regards to learning. Be open to listening to other people’s opinion. Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to learn from anyone. Be willing to accept that you don’t know. Be grateful that someone is willing to share that with you.

Without talking about it, how are we gonna ever learn about each other? It’s just not possible. Religion, politics, race, whatever topic maybe. I believe that fundamentally, we want to be loved, to be safe and to be happy for themselves and for their family. Am I wrong?


Let’s be human. Let us be human.


Love and light

Yuko


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