Through my work with Balancing Cultures, I was able to uncover meaning and a sense of wholeness through the examination and expression of my family’s story and the history of the Japanese American diaspora. This work shares artistic interpretations of the emotions, insights, and deep collective acceptance of the political and social injustice imposed on my family—the effects of which were never completely expressed. Balancing Cultures emerges from a forty-year silence, and brings a new voice to a long suppressed family story.
In 1942, Executive Order 9066 brought untold distress to all Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. They experienced economic loss of property, the shame and indignation of incarceration, and the task of re-integration into American society after release from the WWII concentration camps. How did Japanese Americans resolve such a travesty of justice? There is a cultural saying for this—“shikata ga nai”—it cannot be helped. But there is another saying—“gaman”—persevere and stay silent, that defined the tolerance of their losses. I gained a new appreciation and understanding of our collective shame and resolve to transcend a major affront
Balancing Cultures continues to evolve, prompting conversations about racism, hysteria, and economic exploitation in America. Race is a social construct—not based in science. Balancing Cultures asks us to consider how race is a tenacious cultural expedience we sanction that leads to labels, judgment, and separation.