A Message From the Executive Director: Remembering Our Values During Turbulent Times
September 8, 2017
August was a trying month for the nation.
Our hearts go out to the people impacted by Hurricane Harvey—all those who tragically lost loved ones, homes, possessions and stability in their lives. We hope for a swift recovery for the region, understanding the hurricane’s damage will be felt for years.
While images of Harvey’s devastation affect us all, two other national news stories struck at the core of our principles as an organization. These were the violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia and the fate of thousands of young adult immigrants who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, or Dreamers
When white supremacists and neo-Nazis descended on Charlottesville for the “Unite the Right” rally, it represented a backlash against diversity and inclusivity. Aside from the overtly racist messages spewed by protesters, calls to preserve Confederate monuments sought to elevate a single whites-only “culture” or “heritage” at the expense of other ethnic backgrounds and viewpoints.
Little Tokyo Service Center’s work directly opposes that way of thinking. Founded in 1979, we have always prioritized inclusivity and cultural sensitivity. This started with our social services department, our longest running program, which was created to assist underserved monolingual Japanese seniors with linguistically and culturally sensitive care.
Over the years, we have worked to strengthen and sustain Little Tokyo in order to preserve a link to Japanese and Japanese American culture. Today, recognizing our place among a network of allies pushing for social justice, we collaborate to help other low-income and ethnic neighborhoods
We also appreciate the value immigrants bring to our communities. Connected to the story of Japanese immigrants in the U.S., including the World War II incarceration of people of Japanese descent, we understand the challenges faced by newer generations of immigrants to our country.
Thus, we firmly support DACA, which protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. This important program allows roughly 800,000 immigrants, raised alongside U.S. citizens, to remain in the country without fear of deportation as long as they comply with certain requirements.
While we hope our leaders will seek to bring us together on difficult issues, when it comes to Charlottesville and DACA, President Trump’s words and actions have created problems instead of solutions. His refusal to unequivocally condemn hate groups has inflicted pain and emboldened the most misguided among us. His unwillingness to extend protections for Dreamers has produced fear in many who are vulnerable. These positions fit a dreadful pattern, along with the President’s policies targeting Muslims, transgender people and other minority groups.
Our mission rests on principles of compassion, equality and respect for diversity. We stand with all those who support immigrants and condemn displays of racism and intolerance.
LTSC Executive Director