Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Second Chance: How An Educator Helped My Trans Son Find His Greatness


Recently I had the opportunity to thank someone who I believe changed the course of my child’s future. I didn’t realize it completely, until the moment when Dr. David Vannasdall walked into the room and tears began to roll down my face. He is the superintendent of a local school district and we had been brought together to film Diane Sawyer’s 20/20 Special following up on Caitlin Jenner’s story and talking about transgender issues.
But let me begin at the beginning . . . .
Ten years ago, my daughter announced to me, “I am not going back to school.” I was devastated, because she was a senior in high school and had 6 months to graduate. My position at the time was a director of educational programs for a dropout recovery charter school. And here I was faced with a child who was ready to drop out. (Read More)

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Mother’s Take: Speaking Up

Recently, I attended a book launch for “Fred Korematsu Speaks Up,” sponsored by Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Los Angeles and written by Stan Yogi and Laura Atkins. Stan Yogi and I worked on Okaeri 2016 together, and I wanted to support him. I also wanted to learn more about this courageous man whose image I recently saw Google change their home page icon to on Jan. 30. This day had been chosen because in 2010, the Governor of California signed the legislative bill establishing Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. It was also Fred’s birthday. This was the first statewide day in U.S. History named after an Asian American.

What struck me deeply at this book event was that Fred’s children did not know what their father had done until they heard about him from others. He had stayed silent about his defiance of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which allowed the military to imprison close to 120,000 Japanese American citizens and send them off to desolate areas of the country...(Read More)

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Mother’s Take: Taking Back My Mind

For the past three months, I have walked around in disbelief, like many of you, wondering where my country is headed. I have watched more news and commentary in the past six months than I have in the past six years. I have felt my blood boil from some of the comments and the untruths that are perpetrated by the current president. And part of me has felt so powerless, desolate and disheartened by all that is dividing our America.

I know I have written about some of my feelings regarding this election before. So, this is a continuation of my thoughts since then. Uneasiness has returned to me when I see all the hate and bigotry being bolstered by the words of the president and the people he is surrounding himself with. I am saddened when I hear my son has sleepless nights worried about his future and the future of his friends … not just LGBTQ friends, but Muslim, Latinx, black, Asian and so many others. I, too, have struggled, and many days I have had difficulty getting out of bed because I felt such despair...(Read More)

Friday, December 16, 2016

What I Will Remember This Season

With each passing year, I feel that time is moving faster and the choices I make are becoming more important because I am older, hopefully wiser and have less time to dwell on things that take me away from what I love. It seems like just yesterday, I was the mother of two young sons, and now, those little ones are 28 and 25 years of age. I remember walking down the aisle on my father’s arm to start my new life with my husband, and today, we have been married 44 years.

Time has gone by so fast .…

So, when I think of what season, time of my life or event I want to remember, I want to remember and cherish them all. And each season has been an important part of who I am today. Writing this article has given me the opportunity to reflect on what makes a season memorable to me. And these are some of the things that have stayed in my heart from years gone by... (Read More)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We Were Welcomed Home

okaeri_logo-03.pngOn Oct. 14 and 15, Okaeri 2016 took place at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. The gathering began with a networking mixer on Friday, which drew many from the Nikkei and API community, both LGBTQ and allies. Representatives from PFLAG, JACL, NCRR, Little Tokyo Service Center, Keiro, churches and many other organizations made this event a wonderful way to kick off the weekend that was to continue on Saturday. Thank you, Sean Miura and traci kato-kiriyama.

Saturday began with the planning committee arriving very early, many of us juggling a HUGE cup of coffee to help wake us up. But once we began to set up and saw people arriving to register, the enthusiasm and anticipation was palpable... (Read More)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Wisdom From Portland

I recently received a very kind note from a Portland JACL member named Herb. In his note, he talked about reading “A Mother’s Take” and expressed his amazement at my bravery. He also said, “This may be easy for me to tell you, but live each and every day to the fullest with gratitude.” His note came at a very important time for me … and here is the reason why.

I was on a plane from Dallas/Fort Worth to Los Angeles recently. It had been a very successful trip with a LGBTQ training in Shreveport, La., followed by a leadership summit in New Orleans. I was feeling good about everything that had happened on this trip...(Read More)

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Promise to Aiden

Okaeri Loves Orlando

I woke up on Sunday, and my heart broke into a million pieces. Filling the news was the massacre in Orlando. It happened to those I didn’t know, but I fought so hard to keep safe. I thought about the mothers who went to sleep unknowing and woke up finding out their sons were dead. I could feel my heart close up . . . I could feel my spirit begin to lose hope. The world just felt less safe for Aiden.
My heart shudders at the thought that someone who doesn’t even know my beautiful child would want to harm him because of the fear and judgment that is sweeping the country. But when faced with things they don’t understand, people too often allow themselves to be consumed by fear, distrust and hatred and not compassionately seek the truth.
I mourned, but I didn’t cry. All I felt was numb.
But the LGBTQ community is strong, and so thousands of us came together last night, with so many straight allies there to support us. It was a vigil organized by the Los Angeles LGBT Center in front of Los Angeles City Hall... (Read More)