Learning From Yuri Kochiyama

Written by: Casey Miles

Primary Source: Writing Rhetoric and American Cultures

The world recently lost Yuri Kochiyama, human rights activist and survivor of U.S. sanctioned Japanese internment camps. In a recent blog post on Edutopia, José Vilson writes in her memory in reminding us that we all play a part in the betterment of the human experience. He writes, “We need to consistently talk about what would help people feel included, whether in our school or in our lives.”

His suggestions for doing so are fairly straightforward, yet in practice much more difficult. His first suggestion is to “keep both ears open.” By this he means to listen to what are friends and colleagues are saying and taking time to process their communication before responding. Being heard is powerful, but so is being able to hear. The next suggestion Vilson offers is “diversity of thought and experience.” He argues that diversity is more than just the obvious, but also includes the experiences we bring to each project, classroom, and situation we encounter.

Vilson’s final suggestion is “voice is an agency.” Here he brings this piece back to the powerful activist work of Yuri Kochiyama, who used her voice to advocate for the civil rights of Japanese Americans, and all those oppressed by systems of power and privilege.

The following two tabs change content below.
Casey Miles
Casey Miles is PhD student in Rhetoric & Writing, with a master’s degree in Digital Rhetoric & Professional Writing. Casey’s research focuses on queer rhetorics, specifically looking at butch ways of knowing, doing, and being in academic spaces, as well as documentary and video composition. Casey continues to work on her documentary series, The Gender Project, which explores gender, gender identity, and sexuality in everyday lives. Follow her on Twitter @soulsmiles