Speaker 0 00:00:00 Welcome to lavish hope season three, I'm your host, Liz Tesa. In this episode, we focus on solidarity with the, a API community. That's the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. I'm honored to be joined by Jerry Ashita, a third generation, Japanese American, New York city based actress and church leader, who is passionate about dismantling racism in transformative, honest ways. Over the past two years, God has called her to courageously use her voice and family stories to engage Asians and non-Asians alike in deepening their understanding of the root issues and discovering opportunities for justice and healing. Jerry's story is compelling, heartbreaking, and hopeful, and you are sure to be illuminated and inspired. So let's jump in. All right, well, welcome to the lavish hope podcast. I'm Liz Tesa. So delighted to be here today with my dear friend and sister in ministry. Jerry OTO. Welcome Jerry.
Speaker 1 00:01:09 Well, thank you so much, Liz. Uh, I'm very excited about this opportunity to, uh, speak with you today. Thank you for inviting me.
Speaker 0 00:01:17 Yes, it's really exciting. And so this podcast episode will air during may of 2022 and may is, um, a month where we honor the AAPI community. So really, um, grateful to you for being willing to come on by and share a bit of your stories of resilience and overcoming and lavish hope, um, as they pertain particularly to this topic. So again, welcome Jerry.
Speaker 1 00:01:44 Yeah. Thank you. It's a real honor and privilege to be here.
Speaker 0 00:01:47 Wonderful. Wonderful. So let's jump right in my first question I love to ask my guess is what does resilience mean to you?
Speaker 1 00:01:59 Oh, well, um, I prepared, uh, kind of, uh, an Asian, uh, definition and, um, I I've been told that, uh, the Chinese character for crisis has two parts and the top part is danger, which makes a lot of sense when, when we're in crisis, we feel threatened and attacked and, uh, there is clear and present danger, but the, the second part underneath is, uh, the word for opportunity. And I think that's what we often miss in, in a crisis. Uh, like COVID that even though our whole world is falling apart, if we don't panic and run away or, you know, Batten down the hatches and refuse to change that very often in crisis, there is this opportunity for growth and change transformation, new things to happen. And I, I think that is my definition of resilience is, you know, taking, uh, whatever life throws at you and to look for the opportunities, uh, the positive opportunities that God brings to us in every situation in our lives.
Speaker 0 00:03:11 I love that. That's incredible. And so, um, yeah, just thinking about crisis danger plus opportunity, right. That's, that's a great concept. Thanks for that. So I wonder you a bit about how this definition, how it's been shaped your past and maybe changed or by your experiences,
Speaker 1 00:03:36 The sake of your list. Well, for your, the sake of your listeners, you know, uh, I'm sane. That means third generation Japanese American. And so, uh, my grandparents came from Japan in the early 19 hundreds. Both my parents were born and raised in California and the most impactful event on their life, uh, was, you know, the bombing of Pearl Harbor during world war II. And then president Roosevelt came out with executive order 9 0 6, 6 that, uh, sent all the Japanese people living on the west coast into internment camps. So that was my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, they were friends they're, you know, um, I think if you had even one quarter Japanese blood, you had one parent or grandparent who was Japanese, you were sent off to camps. So I, I was born in 1950, which is after the war, but still, you know, the, the, the hatred and prejudice against Japanese was still alive and well, when I, you know, started school and stuff like that.
Speaker 1 00:04:42 So I was subjected to, you know, a great deal of bullying and teasing. And, um, you, you know, just from the earliest age, just feeling well, I, I don't fit in, I, I, I don't belong. And, um, my father was a minister. We moved around a lot. We, we never lived near other Japanese or Asian Americans at that time. I saw a school in Richmond, Virginia, and it was segregated in the 1950s. And my father was teaching at Virginia union universities, which is a historically black college. So, and we lived right across the street in an African American community, but my, my parents sent me to an all white school on the other side of town. So it's just like, well, I'm not black, I'm not white. And, and I, you know, I didn't really know who I was or where I fitted in. So, um, it was really difficult for me to grow up and, and, um, I, I think I went to seven different schools. So it's like always being the new kid in school, always, you know, having to try and make new friends, trying to fit in and figure out what is the cultural norm here, cuz every school is different. And um, so, um, well, well anyway, <laugh>, I don't wanna spend all the time talking about my history, but, um,
Speaker 0 00:06:06 It's important though. Thank you, Jerry. It's really rich.
Speaker 1 00:06:09 Yeah. To give some context, but I, I came to New York city in 1979 and I came here to pursue a career in acting. And um, so yeah, and, and, and because my, my father was a minister, uh, and he forced me to go to church. I, I went through a period of, you know, totally turning away from the church. I was the prodigal daughter. I was not interested in church and God, any of that stuff. And I think that's why I became an actor. Cause <laugh>, it was, it was kind of, you know, rejecting all this God stuff that was imposed on me when I was growing up. Um, but I, I did meet my, my husband at PanAsian repertory theater and we were married for 40 years and I have two, uh, adult children. Uh, my son Quinta is 36 and my daughter is 31. And, uh, but, but I did come back to the church, uh, right after my, my son was born and, um, you know, then I slowly, but truly, you know, got more and more active in the church and eventually, uh, became active with the reform church in America. So that's my story in a nutshell.
Speaker 0 00:07:24 That's great.
Speaker 1 00:07:25 Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:07:26 And so your concept, right? This concept of resilience, I'm just wondering how that kind of stayed with you, or how did that support you as you were living into all of these different sort of stages of your life?
Speaker 1 00:07:46 Um, well, I, I guess one of the things that, that I I've noticed, you know, I'm 71 years old, so I've got a pretty long history. And I think one thing I noticed about my life is that, you know, when I look at the negative experiences, you know, somehow, you know, God would turn it for good, you know, the, the Bible verse of, you know, God works all things for good mm-hmm <affirmative> maybe I didn't see it right away. Maybe took a few years to, to realize that, oh, okay. I was working with the children's theater in Florida and that closed down and that I, I got a job in a health club and I got fired from it and it's like, oh, my whole world is falling apart. But then, um, I got a call to come to New York city to take some acting classes. And it's like, well, I wouldn't probably would not have made that transition if, you know, God didn't totally shut a door in my face in form. Maybe, maybe I'd still be down there was warm and beautiful, but <laugh> but be, be, but because, uh, this kind of bad thing happened, uh, it motivated me to move to New York city in 1979 in the middle of winter from sunny, Florida <laugh> as, you know, one example of, you know, something good coming out of what looked like a bad situation at the time.
Speaker 0 00:09:09 Yeah. That's really great. I, I, I'm grateful to hear that sort of, how do you, how do you continue to believe right. That things are gonna work out,
Speaker 1 00:09:20 Right? Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:09:22 That's really great. So, so is there, um, another story that you could share about resilience and overcoming?
Speaker 1 00:09:30 Well, um, you know, in terms of, you know, this being Asian Pacific heritage month, uh, you know, so much of my racial history seems very negative to me. Something I'm very ashamed of and, you know, I, I find it hard to share because it just brings back a lot of painful memories, but, but I, I see how, you know, God is now using that to give me a, a platform to share this with other people, uh, especially, you know, two years ago, uh, when the coronavirus shut down, everything like right away, all, all this, um, aggression, uh, towards Asians started popping up, you know, people would hear China virus or Kung flu and, and they, they just immediately blamed anybody with an Asian face. That's your fault. You must be contagious, you know, stay away from me and that kind of stuff. And, um, you know, that that's when you know, you and your team came to me and said, Jerry, uh, you know, the RSDA wants to speak out about, uh, stop Asian hate, would you please say something record a video?
Speaker 1 00:10:45 And at first I was kinda like, well, you know, what can I say? Um, but then I realized that this is an opportunity to use the experiences God gave me and, you know, to share it with other people, you know, first of all, hopefully to encourage other agents to speak up. And, uh, and then also to help non-Asian people to understand who we are, because I think so often we as Asians, you know, we're, we're very quiet and respectful. We don't wanna hurt anybody's feelings or get them upset. So we, we just don't say anything a lot of times. And I think that's where a lot of misunderstandings arise because they don't just, they don't know. So they assume a lot of things about us that may or may not be true. And it's not until we are willing to open up and share honestly about, uh, what we're feeling and experiencing, will they, you know, begin to understand, uh, what, what we're feeling, you know,
Speaker 0 00:11:51 I so appreciate that Jerry, because, you know, having been, I mean, that was two years ago when, when we started this journey together and I, I'm so grateful, I call it it's a term I like to call myth busting, but, you know, when you kind of came forward and said, you know, we've gotta break through this barrier of, um, you know, there's the myth of the model, minority, there's all these things, um, uh, of sort of things that have been imposed on the Asian community and that just had to, it just has to be deconstructed, right. It just, it has to be dismantled. So, um, I'm just wondering, like for the sake of our audiences that have not been journeying with us for the last two years, if you could maybe just say a little bit about what that process was like for you, especially in those early days, when you really felt that call, um, to be able to start to exercise, you know, courage and bravery and openness and share your story more. Um, can you just share a little bit about like, what, what actually happened there? Like how, what that process was?
Speaker 1 00:12:54 Well, it, it, it is kind of like, well, it is almost like public therapy, you know, when I share my story, uh, I, I mean, it's difficult at first, you know, find the words to express something that, that I've, I've hidden for such a long time, because I feel so much shame. And, you know, for your listeners to understand that shame is a very big thing in Japanese and Asian cultures there's honor. And then there's shame. And that, that shame really controls so much of my, my behavior and that, that creates a lot of fear in speaking out. But I I've really been learning this past two years, that when I, when I do speak out and, and other people, you know, they nod their heads, that they, they understand they get it. And then I, then I feel validated then that kind of strengthens me and gives me, emboldens me to, to take the next step and to continue with it.
Speaker 1 00:13:51 And, and it actually has become a, you know, a process of, uh, of healing and wholeness for me that now it's like, you know, I can really come forth and be honest and, and going back to this whole acting thing, it's like, I think one of the reasons I, I chose to be an actor was because, you know, I I've been acting since I was like four or five years old. I've been acting a certain way to fit in, in order to be accepted in order not to get beat up. You know, I had to perform in a certain way, which meant hiding a lot of my real feelings and personality because I, oh, this is not gonna be acceptable if they really knew what I'm thinking and feeling they would hate me. So, uh, you know, to begin in this time in my life to take off the mask, to be more honest and vulnerable, um, is really freeing. It's terribly scary. But, uh, as I do it more and more, I, I just feel, um, you know, like I said, it is very much a, a, a process of, of, of healing and reconciliation for me,
Speaker 0 00:15:00 That's so profound. I just, I can just imagine that our listeners are gonna be so encouraged to hear that, because I think that is one of the things that's, you know, there's, we, we love, uh, Dr. BNE Brown's teaching on all of this, right. How to be authentic and vulnerable in this whole notion of shame and how damaging it is. And I think it's really, it's really helpful for, for us to be non-Asians to be hearing a little bit about how that plays a role in your culture of origin, right. And the Asian culture. And, and so I really thank you for honoring us with that, sharing about that. I'm wondering, Jerry, if you can share a little bit about, you've alluded to it, but just dig in a little bit more into, like, where do you find resilience when you don't have it?
Speaker 1 00:15:51 Hmm.
Speaker 0 00:15:51 This is like the 50 million question, right?
Speaker 1 00:15:54 <laugh> yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, here, I think I'd like to share the story that, um, uh, when my father was driving me to my freshman year at Emory university in Atlanta, Georgia, he, he said to me, he said, Jerry, um, don't be afraid to ask for help. There's no shame in asking for help. In fact, it takes great courage to ask for help. And I feel like this was really profound coming from my dad, who was N he was second generation. And, you know, because there is so much shame about asking for help in the Japanese culture. That means you're, you're weak. That means you're a failure. If you're asking for help, you, you can't handle your own problems. So I think a lot of times Japanese and Asian people do not ask for help, and it is support of pride and stuff like that.
Speaker 1 00:16:42 But, um, it, it's really hard for us to say, I can't do this by myself. And, but, but because my father said that, and I really respect my, my dad, you know, anytime I've gotten to a point in my life where, you know, I just couldn't go on, you know, I would go and talk to a minister. I would go to a counselor, a therapist, I would join a support group, or you, you know, I would look for something that would, would help me instead of saying, instead of giving up or, you know, trying to soldier on by myself, just realizing that, um, I needed other people and that, you know, God shows up through other people that you allow into your life.
Speaker 0 00:17:31 That's really good. You know, I'm just thinking it's just occurring to me. You know, we often, and, and in the Christian world, when we're doing this kind of process of trying to figure out how to live more holistically, right. And be healed, um, we think often about Western society being so independent and so individualistic, and you kind of gotta make it on your own. And it's so interesting to hear that there's this kind of parallel in the Asian culture as well, even though the Asian culture appears to someone like myself, who's non Asian as being very communally based, um, that it matters, right. Family matters. The community matters. You wanna the honor, right. Of your, if you do something, you never act on your own, right. That the whole family will be impacted by your actions. That's a very global, um, perspective on what it means to be part of a family that, and the Western culture, we don't have as much, but I just, I see that parallel. So I could imagine part of the challenge for you living in the United States, right. And trying to assimilate as best you can, then that piece of you gotta make it on your own. That that might be mixed in there a little bit. Um, right. But those two, those two cultural norms actually connect very well together. Right?
Speaker 1 00:18:52 Yeah. Yeah. And, and speaking of, you know, the impact of family and community, you know, within the Japanese culture, there's this saying that, you know, the Neil that sticks up gets pounded down and, and it's like, you, you don't wanna be different from everybody around you. And if you speak up and, uh, you know, you might make a fool of yourself and then everybody's gonna jump on you and make, try to make you conform, uh, to the social norm of your family or your social group or whatever. And that that's very strong in me. And, and again, that, that's why it's sometimes very difficult for me to speak up. It's like, well, what gives me the right to say anything? You know, or, uh, you know, people might not approve of me if I say what I really think and feel. Um, so, so you know, that to me is kind of, counter-cultural where, to me, it's like, I see Americans, it's like, oh, you know, they're very happy to stand up and talk about themselves and brag and all the kind of stuff. But I, I don't feel right doing that because that, that's not how I was brought up, you know? Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:20:00 Very interesting. I think too, there's also the piece of, um, you know, as being women, right. There's also, then gender also can, can play into this a little bit where women that are too loud or who are, you know, speak up about themselves can be seen as, you know, too much. And then also like the women that are quiet and demure are rewarded for that. Right. So you might have a little there. I think, I think you've got several, I'm just seeing some different places where you might have kind of double indemnity, um, of sort of like a double layer. So it's even more, um, just overcoming like that sense of overcoming it's even more so, because there's even more there that you have to kind of override in order to be able to break free and be able to live fully into what God is calling you to do and what God is calling you to share. So, um, right. I just wanted to say, thank you for being faithful to that. <laugh> exercise of seeking that healing that will release you and give you that freedom because what you even just, what you've shared in these few short minutes of this conversation, I'm sure I'm gonna be so illuminating and enlightening and helpful to our listeners. So thank you for that. Um, so I'm wondering Jerry, where is the place that you find hope
Speaker 1 00:21:17 Paradoxically, where I find hope ha has been in, in surrender that so often when, when I've gotten to the pit of despair, it it's like it's been in a moment of surrender that God has been able to come in and, and, and help me. And, and often it's not that he changes the outward circumstances, but, you know, inwardly, I, I have, I, I gain a different perspective, you know? Um, and then that, and that's where I, I, I found, I found help hope and help because like, again, it's, it's like, because I, you know, as a Japanese person, I'm always trying to save face. And, uh, but it's like, when, when I've, you know, totally surrendered, then, you know, God is allowed to come in and transform my life. So it, it is kind of paradoxical. And when I finally give up that, you know, that, that allows the holy spirit to come in and start working and, and moving and changing things for me. So, um, yeah, that, it doesn't sound like it makes sense logically, but, but I feel somehow surrender it, uh, you know, gives me hope.
Speaker 0 00:22:43 That's beautiful. And I think that's, that's such a, um, it's such a, a personal interpretation of where we find hope, right. It's not looking externally, it's just in that intimate relationship in the, the relationship with God. And so that's something that we can do anywhere anytime. So I, I find that very inspiring.
Speaker 1 00:23:03 Right.
Speaker 0 00:23:04 Yeah. Right. That's great. So you've already alluded to the Romans eight and 28, um, that all things work together for good. Uh, and, but I'm wondering if you have any other favorite verses or quotes that inspire you to embrace hope and be resilient.
Speaker 1 00:23:20 You know, Joseph's story resonates me with me a lot that, you know, he went through an lot of awful experiences and, and at the end he was able to say what others meant for evil God means for good. And, and I, I found that true too, because like, when you're subjected to a lot of racism and stuff like that, you know, it seems like for no reason at all, people hate you and beat up on you, but, you know, ultimately God, God means that to be for good. And it's like, okay, now I'm able to share those experiences. Uh, hopefully it brings some kind of comfort and encouragement to other people. Um, it certainly did not feel good at the time, but it it's like, uh, and it's helped me become more, you know, reliant on God to, you know, lead me and guide me and save me, um, in a way that maybe I would not have appreciated otherwise.
Speaker 1 00:24:18 And, um, you know, actually, uh, last month, uh, Reverend and young Kim, you know, she's the coordinator for the council for Pacific and Asian American ministries. And she comes at the last minute, you know, Jerry, you know, please write, um, you know, that they want to come up with this devotional, uh, for dismantling racism for may. And, uh, it's based on the Lord's prayer. And they gave us this Bible verse, um, as we forgive those who trespass against us and it's like, oh wow, you, you know, all my life I've been trespassed against. And yet I am called to forgive those people, uh, who, who trample all over me. And, um, and, and I shared this story that, um, uh, after nine 11 happened, you know, third reform church in orange city, Iowa sent work teams to our church to help re repair things. And then they invited some of us to go to orange city, Iowa, to thank them and share their, our story.
Speaker 1 00:25:27 And, um, you and I did talk about, you know, the internment camps and stuff like that. And afterwards, we had a little receiving line and we're shaking hands with people. And along comes this older, um, angle, white American. And, and when he shakes my hand, he said something like, I am so very sorry for what happened to your family during world war II. I was an American soldier at that time. And, and it, it kind of shocked me because it was, it was kind of like all of a sudden, its like I could see him I'm as a young man getting ready to go off to war. Maybe he's never left Iowa on his whole life. And, and, and I realized, you know, all these, all these years, you, I I've been harboring hatred and resentment against these white Americans who were bad to us, but I realized that it wasn't his fault.
Speaker 1 00:26:22 I mean, it's kind of like, you know, war is hell and it's awful for everybody, no matter which side you're on. And, and I just felt convicted in that moment that I have to forgive the people who hurt me. It doesn't seem to make sense, but I, I realize that the, the bitterness and hatred and the hardness of heart that I was holding against, you know, white Americans was something that I needed to release and let go of. And to me that was like really profound because I was always thinking, you know, poor me, you know, uh, but you know, God just pointed out to me that I had to let that go. I had to forgive the other person. And, um, that was profoundly changing for me. I mean, just released me from this kind of burden. I've been carrying all these years of, you know, us versus them and, and, and um, you know, whatever. I mean, you know, I still need and want to speak out against racism, but that core of forgiveness I think really needs to be there. Um, yeah,
Speaker 0 00:27:37 That is so important, Jerry I'm I thank you for elevating that because they, they often say, you know, forgiveness is a gift, do you give yourself? Right. So it's, it's the one who does the forgiving that is, is really blessed by it because of that freedom that you find. Yeah. But I'm, I, I really appreciate you naming that a as it pertains to the harm that was done to your family, um, because that's still, it can't take that away. Right. I mean, like that's still a really important part of us history and I'm, I'm wondering if, um, if you would be willing just to give a little snapshot of what happened to your family, um, just for our listeners that may not have, have know about the history of what happened to Japanese Americans during world war II, would you be willing to just give maybe just a little quick overview, you, you named it a little bit in your introduction, but just a little, little snapshot.
Speaker 1 00:28:34 Uh <affirmative> um,
Speaker 0 00:28:35 About the camps? Well,
Speaker 1 00:28:36 I, I think they were only given a few weeks, you know, they posted up this notice notices in Japan town or whatever, and it's like, you've, you've only got a few weeks to pack all your belongs. I think they were only allowed to bring like two suitcases. And like my one grandfather had three Japanese gift stores. You, you know, and it's like within two or three weeks, he's gotta close this down. Um,
Speaker 0 00:29:03 And this was in California, right? Was this in San Francisco or Sacramento?
Speaker 1 00:29:07 Uh, it was in San San Francisco mm-hmm <affirmative> so he he's got close down his businesses, uh, people had to sell or give away things, you know, they, they basically lost everything and the injustice besides being mass incarceration. I mean, there's no trial, nothing has ever proven. It's just this wave of, you know, racial hatred. That's moving all the Japanese out to these. Well, first they went to the tan Fran race track, you know, like horse stalls that, that they're being housed at temporarily until they quickly build these, um, barracks out in, you know, God forsaken parts of the country, you know, out, out in the desert or up in the mountains where they're far away from, from people. And they're surrounded with Barb wire there's guard towers, uh, with soldiers there, with the guns pointed in, at the Japanese Americans. It's not that they're, they're being protected from the outside people.
Speaker 1 00:30:08 And so that, you know, they basically lost everything. And, um, and I think over half of them were American born citizens and my grandparents were not allowed to be citizens at that time. Legally, there was no way that, uh, an Asian person could become an American citizen. So, I mean, I mean the other enemy aliens, but they had no choice. They, they couldn't become Americans, even they wanted to. So, um, so yeah, they're in these house, these barracks in the middle of nowhere, um, my, my father was able to get out after six months, uh, the Quakers, uh, helped him and other college age students get out and go to colleges away from the west coast. Um, but my one, one aunt was fairly young when she went in. So I, I think she was there for the duration of the war and as were many of the older Japanese, because, you know, they had no place to go and yeah,
Speaker 0 00:31:14 Mm-hmm <affirmative> and then what happened after the war ended then?
Speaker 1 00:31:19 Uh, well, after the war, some of my relatives went back to California and like my, my father, some people just did not wanna go back to California. It's just like, it just felt so still dangerous. And, and people were, were still not welcoming for the most part. So we ended up in Chicago first and other parts of the country when I was growing up. So it's, it's kind of like the great dispersion or whatever that, and that is in fact, when, you know, a lot of people came from the camps a lot, went to Chicago and many came to New York and that's how my church got founded. Well, the church, my, my church was already there, but it kind of grew in size because a lot of Japanese Americans from the camps came towards the east coast.
Speaker 0 00:32:14 Thank you for sharing that, Jerry. And I think I, I, I wanted our listeners to hear some of that because then when they hear what, you know, they think about what you, what you articulated about that need to forgive. Like that's a pretty profound story of, of, of, of what needs to be of, of unforgivable. Let me say that. Right. Right. So, thanks. Thanks for that. So just shifting gears a little bit, Jerry, I'm wondering, how are you cultivating hope today?
Speaker 1 00:32:47 <laugh> um, well, well, I, I think, you know, God has given me several opportunities in this past two, two and a half years to speak out on this issue of Asian, American racism and stuff. And, and, and that, that has given me, you know, a great deal of hope and meaning and direction in my life at this time. Um, and, and again, this is where, you know, I think God prepared me, you know, cuz you know, you know, I started out as an actress and that has given me the skills and confidence to speak in front of groups because when I was growing up in school, I was very shy and very quiet. And uh, but, but because you know, now I'm an actor, so I, I can feel comfortable talking in front of, um, groups of people and, and I think that's been a, a real, you know, blessing for me. And um, yeah, and, and I think just the more I, I share the story and as I listen to other people's stories, I, I think that gives me hope and resilience because, uh, there's a great deal of value for me to hear how other people have dealt with this same or similar situation that, uh, you know, they, they respond in different ways. They come up with ideas that I hadn't thought about. And then that, that, that, you know, uh, increases my ability for hope and resilience.
Speaker 0 00:34:18 Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, I'm wondering like, can you give like an example or two of like, what are some of the things that you've heard, uh, from others that have been inspiring in that area and that have kind of helped you as you're catalyzing, because it's clear Jerry, that God is kind of catalyzing you forward to continue to develop and share your story, your family's story, and really, um, help people and systems think about how do we dismantle racism in all its forms, right. In systems of oppression, but particularly to dismantle some of these untruths, some of these misconceptions around, uh, our Asian brother and sisters and, and, and Asian American brothers and sisters, especially, I'm talking about the us context mostly, but, um, but I'm just wondering, like some of the things that you're hearing that have been particularly inspiring to you.
Speaker 1 00:35:12 Well, um, well, one thing I I've been hearing about, uh, you know, some Japanese Americans, because of what happened with the internment camps, you know, some of them have, uh, really kind of organized together to speak out against, uh, you know, the injustice of these immigration issues of families being deter detained at the border or children being from their parents. So, um, I, you, you know, I do know some Japanese Americans who have gone down there to protest to show their support and solidarity, and it's like, you know, never again, I mean, this happened, uh, with the Japanese Americans, this mass incarceration, and we don't wanna see this happen to other people groups, uh, who are being discriminated against today. So, so something like that, you know, really inspires and encourages me that, uh, that there, that there is hope and that when we work together, we, we can accomplish meaningful change for our society.
Speaker 0 00:36:16 Mm-hmm <affirmative> well, that's so inspiring. Thanks for sharing that. Yeah. So as we're finishing up, Jerry, I'm wondering if you have a project or anything at all that you're working on that you'd like to share, or that's part of your story with our, with our listeners?
Speaker 1 00:36:35 Well, I, I, I, I mean, I, it occurs to me that tomorrow I'm participating in the dismantling racism, um, prayer gathering and, uh, I, I I'm really, you know, looking forward to that, uh, because one aspect they, they asked me to speak out on is, you know, the relationship between Asians and African Americans. And there are times when we do support each other, you know, during the civil rights era, um, many Asians, um, you know, stood in solidarity with the African Americans, cause it's like, yes, we understand this systemic racism. That's pushing us all down. And, and they partnered together. And, uh, um, well, in fact, my, my father, when we were in Richmond, he, he was teaching at Virginia union university and he was at the seminary there. And he said he met Reverend Dr. Martin Luther king because, uh, Dr. King would come to the seminary to talk to the African American students and, uh, professors and my father had an opportunity to meet him.
Speaker 1 00:37:42 And then fast forward, uh, 1968, when king was assassinated at that time, my father's teaching at an all white seminary in Siwan, Tennessee. Um, but he, and some of the seminary professors and students went to Memphis, uh, from Siani to kind of protest and to stand in solidarity with those people. So it's like, you know, my life personally has intersected with, uh, the African Americans. But, but, but also, I mean, there, there are times when, you know, there's friction between Asians and Africans, African Americans. And, um, so, so I mean, this is something that, that really interests me, the, that, uh, you, you know, my people group is not free from prejudice and racism too. And that, you know, if we're going to dismantle racism, it, it has to happen inside of each one of us. We, we, can't just be saying, oh, you know, you are a bad person, you're a racist. But if we don't recognize that racism crops up within us too, with our assumptions in a way that we relate to people, then, you know, we're not being totally honest and, you know, real change can't happen until you, you know, we look inside ourselves too. And, you know,
Speaker 0 00:39:09 So that sounds like God is calling you into kind of the next iteration or kind of the evolving mm-hmm <affirmative>, uh, of this work that you're doing is that now you're gonna, you know, you're being called to engage in a different, you know, a different aspect of it, which I, I so appreciate. And it's so fascinating to me, you know, I didn't know that piece about your story of where your dad taught or that kind of intersection with, um, civil rights. And so I see that also as part of God's plan, right? Yeah. As you're living into this calling that you do have some of that in your background, um, your life experience, your family's life experience. So that's exciting, Jerry. And so, um, unfortunately when this podcast airs, you will have already engaged in the first part of that dismantling racism, prayer gathering, but I believe it will be in time.
Speaker 0 00:40:05 So folks that are listening, um, when this podcast first drops, we'll be able to come back for the second time, uh, later in the month. And so I'll make sure that I've got that in my, uh, in my follow up, uh, comments just of how they can tune in to engage with you and with the dismantling racism, prayer movement. And then Jerry, I know also there's recordings of different things that you've done. So, um, I just am gonna make sure that, uh, that people have that access, uh, to be able to listen a little bit more to the things that you have already shared and glean your wisdom and your, um, expertise from your life experiences. So, um, also Jerry, that if folks wanna connect with you, if they have questions or if they just need a resource, um, you're willing to share your email address. Right. Can, can I just go ahead and share that with folks that it's Jerry Yoda, Gmail, right. That's the one that you prefer?
Speaker 1 00:41:07 Yes, yes, that's fine. And, and I, I would also add, like I said, I, I enjoy giving presentations. So if there is a group that wants me to, to speak and share my story, or to kind of lead a workshop, um, one of the things I was able to do with the Reverend grace for whos on your guiding coalition, she invited me twice to speak to her at her Taiwanese Presbyterian church in New Jersey. And that, that was a, a really wonderful experience to talk to a, a different Asian American group and share my story and listen to their story too. I, I, I learned so much. And so, um, I, I, I really, you know, enjoy interacting with the, you know, different, uh, church groups or community groups. And, and I would, you know, welcome that. And, you know, also being able to do that via zoom or virtually, uh, since traveling still is a little difficult. So, um, that that's an option. So yes, but that, that is my email and I'm happy to share that
Speaker 0 00:42:11 Wonderful Jerry. That's great. And I know I've heard wonderful things from people that have been able to be in your story sharing, uh, workshops. So I'm so glad you brought that forth as an opportunity for our listeners. If they have a group that would like to avail themselves of that. I think that that's a wonderful, wonderful thing. Thank you for sharing that. So, Jerry, thank you for being here on the lavish hope podcast today. Is there any final thing that you've left unsaid that you would like to say before we sign off?
Speaker 1 00:42:40 Well, uh, just, just thank you so much, Liz for inviting me, I've really enjoyed this conversation and, uh, you know, many blessings to you in your ministry, as you continue to, you know, invite people to share their stories of hope and resilience. I think we're all strengthened by it.
Speaker 0 00:42:58 Oh, thanks so much, Jerry. And God bless you as you continue to share your story and encourage others to really engage in this matter of dismantling racism and particularly where it pertains to Asian Americans and also to learn the history. It's so important. So thank you so much for being with us today. All of best to you. God bless.
Speaker 1 00:43:20 Okay. Thank you. God bless you too.
Speaker 0 00:43:28 Thanks so much for listening. I hope this episode has offered insights and sparked ideas for what lavish hope, resilience and overcoming mean for you in your own life and calling. If you'd like to connect with Jerry, she'd love to hear from you. You can email her directly at Jerry dot Yoda, gmail.com. That's G E R R I dot Y O S H I D [email protected]
. You can also learn more about dismantling racism, resources that Jerry is a part of, including standing with the, a API community and the dismantling racism, prayer [email protected]
front slash dismantling dash racism. That's rca.org front slash dismantling dash racism. If you enjoyed this lavish hope podcast, please subscribe, leave a review and reshare any place here on social. You can also connect with me [email protected]
. This episode is brought to you by faith word.org, an online learning community where you'll find ideas for living out your faith reflections on scripture and church stories about how other Christians are following God's call and resources to bring your own church or organization along for the ride. The lavish hope podcast is produced by Anna Radcliffe with assistant production by Lorraine Parker sound designed by Garrett Steiner and web support by grace Reuter hosted by yours, truly Liz Tesa. Until next time, may you find ways to cultivate lavish hope, build resilience and seek justice each and every day. God bless you.