Taiko In Solidarity
On Saturday, January 11th this year, Bakuhatsu Taiko Dan had the incredible opportunity to perform and protest alongside a diverse community including those of Japanese American, Jewish, and Mexican descent wanting to spread a loud and powerful message. The protest was held to bring attention to the inhumane conditions against racially targeted immigrants and minority groups to demand an end to unjust confinement and deportation. Several members of the team made the drive with our drums to Yuba County Jail in Marysville, Yuba County to join various civil rights organizations to protest for undocumented immigrant rights and freedoms.
Leading the charge against detention camps and deportation was Tsuru for Solidarity: a volunteer-run, non-violent direct action group of Japanese Americans fighting to close the camps, an event that would represent an end to the indefinite contract with ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Tsuru for Solidarity, according to their website, “stand(s) on the moral authority of Japanese Americans who suffered the atrocities and legacy of U.S. concentration camps during WWII,” vowing to end the existence of detention sites and racist immigration policies.
Here are some of our Bakuhatsu members’ takeaways from experiencing the protest firsthand:
“Though the fight to reunite separated immigrant families is long from over, I hope that our continued solidarity—and customary Bakuhatsu noise-making—will help change minds about and bring attention to this crisis.” — Emily Quan
“I’ve been more than fortunate to have people in my life that show me the bigger picture, that there are people out there who need our help, and that the art form we practice is much more than just an art. In that moment, performing for the Yuba County protesters and for the innocent incarcerated people held inside the jail walls, hitting the drum meant everything to me […] One part about being a performer is to convey an emotion to the audience; this time, the audience evoked emotion from us. We played our hearts out for our first two songs, the protesters cheering us on, and suddenly we heard the voice: “don’t forget about us.” It was an upsetting, heartbreaking, and powerful message unlike any other. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.” — Amanda Inouye
“One thing that stands out to me in terms of North American Taiko is its role in activism and community-building during the Asian American Movement. North American Taiko reacts to the intergenerational trauma of the Japanese American Incarceration and the many injustices Asian American immigrants and their descendants have faced. Taiko, as an Asian American art form, creates space for Asian American bodies — it says loudly that we are here, that we belong here, and that we persist.” — Gregory Wada
Several months after the protest in Yuba County, Bakuhatsu members performed alongside many Bay Area and Sacramento based Japanese American civil rights organizations as well as Cal Raijin Taiko from UC Berkeley for the Tsuru Rising Vigil held in June. While practicing social distancing, protesters gathered near Tanforan Mall in San Bruno, California, formerly the Tanforan Race Tracks, where Japanese Americans were assembled before their forced relocation to US incarceration camps during World War II. This protest was held to fight for an end to all state violence and to honor Black people killed by police, immigrants who have died in US detention facilities, and Japanese ancestors who died in incarceration camps. Taiko’s well-rooted history in both activism and civil rights allows team members and community members alike to take matters into their own hands and stand together against injustice. The North American taiko community has shown incredible support for civil rights organizations over the years, and Bakuhatsu is no exception. For the last three years, Bakuhatsu’s annual Davis Cherry Blossom Festival has promoted and donated to charitable organizations working towards environmental or social justice in hopes of bettering the lives of others.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Davis Cherry Blossom Festival planned for the spring was unfortunately cancelled. However, moving forward and adapting quickly are fortunately two skills we value and practice! Despite the shelter in place order, we are still dedicating time to use taiko and art as a medium to raise social awareness and call for action from members of our community. As an alternative to the cancelled event, the Davis Cherry Blossom Festival is hosting a webinar: “A Change is Gonna Come: Art and Action for Human Rights and Freedom” on November 15th, 10:30 AM - 5 PM PST. Through musical performances from an exciting lineup of artists and thoughtful discussion from panelists and speakers, this free online event focuses on the role of artists and organizers in connecting communities and enacting solidarity. The Taiko & Activism portion of the webinar starting at 11:30 AM will feature taiko performances and a panel of respected taiko artists including Roy and PJ Hirabayashi, Tiffany Tamaribuchi, and Michelle Fujii demonstrating how taiko functions as a means of organizing, place-making, self-expression, and social activism, both historically and today. You won’t want to miss it!
Although our normal in-person methods of raising awareness and fundraising for social justice may be altered, our passion, involvement, and perseverance still remains. We will continue to search for new ways to communicate and connect with the greater community by using taiko as a medium to empower each other and build solidarity.
Ways to participate in the event:For more information and updates, visit our Facebook event page!
Learn more about Tsuru for Solidary by checking out their website or facebook page. They are constantly updating their page with updates and offering panels and posts for more information.
Please consider donating to Black Lives Matter and please continue educating yourself and others:
During these uncertain and changing times, please care for your mental health. Listed below are resources we hope guide you in times of adversity.
For UC Davis students:
Mental Health Crisis Consultation Services: (530) 752-0871
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1(800) 273-8255
Disaster Distress Helpline: 1(800) 985-5990
COVID resource: https://covid19.eqca.org
UCD COVID resource: https://www.ucdavis.edu/coronavirus/
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