Jan 10 2012

Gordon Hirabayashi, 1918-2012

If you don’t know the name Gordon Hirabayashi, you should. He is an indisputable hero and icon of American history.

Best known for being one of the few people to openly defy the government’s unconstitutional internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, Hirabayashi was arrested, convicted and imprisoned for his civil disobedience. He eventually appealed his case to the Supreme Court (Hirabayashi vs. United States) — the first challenge to Executive Order 9066. The Court ruled against him, 9-0. Forty years later, his wartime convictions were successfully overturned.

Gordon Hirabayashi died on January 2. He was 93.

Mr. Hirabayashi’s son, Jay Hirabayashi, announced his father’s passing via Facebook:

My Dad, Gordon K. Hirabayashi, who was ninety-three, passed away early this morning. He was an American hero besides being a great father who taught me about the values of honesty, integrity, and justice. My Mother, Esther Hirabayashi, who was eighty-seven, also passed away this morning about ten hours later. She was a beautiful, intelligent, generous soul. Although my parents were divorced, they somehow chose to leave us on the same day. I am missing them a lot right now.

Read more at AngryAsianMan.com gordon hirabayashi, 1918-2012 | angry asian man.


Jun 25 2011

Two Years After His Death the Spirit of Michael Jackson Keeps Brazilian Kids Out of Trouble


In memory of Michael Jackson on this, the 2nd Anniversary of his death, a little something that would make him smile:

And, for your viewing pleasure — “They Don’t Care About Us”
filmed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and directed by Spike Lee


Jun 16 2011

‘Black Like Me’ White Author Darkened His Skin to Write About "Being Black"

Today is my birthday. And Tupac’s Too.

Another June 16th human being I really love is John Howard Griffin.

6/16/20 – 9/9/80

I hope you already know all about this man, but if not, he was a White anti-racist who grew up in the South and wanted to do something to reach the hearts and minds of White Americans, most of whom were in denial about the conditions under which Black people lived.

Griffin conducted an experiment in 1959 (years before the Civil Rights movement) that included shaving his head, darkening his skin with lamps and pharmaceuticals and living as a Black man in the deep south.

Though he endured for several weeks, he ended up cutting the experiment short, as he found that being a Black man was too difficult for him to maintain for long. He wrote a book about his experiences that made him a celebrity and (to some) a villain.

“Nothing can describe the withering horror of this. You feel lost, sick at heart before such unmasked hatred, not so much because it threatens you as because it shows humans in such an inhuman light. You see a kind of insanity, something so obscene the very obscenity of it (rather than its threat) terrifies you. It was so new I could not take my eyes from the man’s face. I felt like saying: “What in God’s name are you doing to yourself?”

“Suddenly I had had enough. Suddenly I could stomach no more of this degradation- not of myself but of all men who were black like me.”

“When all the talk, all the propaganda has been cut away, the criterion is nothing but the color of skin. My experience proved that. They judged me by no quality. My skin was dark.”

Mr. Griffin knew when he conducted his experiment he would forever be putting himself at odds with those in America who didn’t want the ugliest realities of racism to be exposed and so vividly expressed by someone White. After his book “Black Like Me” was published in 1961 he and his family received continual death threats. They left their Texas home and eventually moved to Mexico.

“John Howard Griffin was one of the most remarkable people I have ever encountered…He was just one of those guys that comes along once or twice in a century and lifts the hearts of the rest of us.” -Studs Terkel

Here is an excellent article about Griffin’s life, his experiment and his writings: JimCrowMuseum <<–Highly suggested reading!