To Niqab or not to Niqab?

March 31, 2015 at 12:20 pm
Terry Watada

By Terry Watada I don’t understand Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent vitriol against Muslim women who want to practice their religion.  I mean, has someone attacked him for his Christianity?  In any case, he condemned the niqab or face veil as a symbol of “a culture that is anti-women”.  He was, at the time, defending himself against Liberal charges that he and his party were engaged in divisive politics.  Still, attacking the Muslim tradition of covering the face in public is a little like hitting a kitten with a hammer. It can be argued that his stand began in 2011.  Then-Immigration Minister Jason Kenny (in a seemingly reactionary declaration) banned anyone from taking the citizenship oath with her face covered.  The issue came to a head when Zunera Ishaq was due to take the oath back in 2013.  After immigrating to Canada in 2008, she followed all the rules on […]

Stale off the Boat

March 1, 2015 at 10:44 am
Terry Watada

By Terry Watada Fresh off the Boat, ABC’s anything-but-fresh sitcom about an Asian American family going through culture shock in Orlando, Florida, during the mid-1990s suffers from bad writing and stereotypical portrayals.  The show centres on a Taiwanese-American family moving from Washington DC to Orlando to realize the father’s dream of opening a steak restaurant with a wild-west theme. Well okay, but the premise is hard to swallow.  Why would an Asian American family have so much trouble moving from one American city to another?  The parents and children speak perfect English even if the parents have accents.  The father’s, played by Randall Park, by the way keeps switching from forced Chinese to North American.  Another problem: is Washington DC located in East Asia?  The mother doesn’t understand an American supermarket in episode one.  Really?  Has she never walked into a DC market other than in Chinatown?  The reason for […]

Racism is Over?

January 5, 2015 at 4:46 pm
Terry Watada

By Terry Watada. In the recent film festival favourite Dear White People, written and directed by James Williams and Teyonah Parris, the president of a fictitious Ivy League School, Winchester University, in the US declares that racism is over in America – especially in the wake of Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency.  Perhaps it is for white people but is it true for the so-called Visible Minorities and other minorities based on gender and sexual preference? I heard this same declaration during redress.  Many Nisei and Sansei told me the issue of redress was a non-starter; after all, “racism was over”.  It wasn’t like it was back in 1942 anymore, they insisted.  Of course, that was beside the point.  Redress was a human rights issue.  Still, they felt it was not relevant to their lives. But that was the 1980s.  After all, it is 2015 and surely racism is […]

Yuri Kochiyama: a Hero amongst Heroes

July 5, 2014 at 1:14 pm
Yuri Kochiyama

By Terry Watada. Rev up your search engine and type in “Yuri Kochiyama”.  You’re bound to learn about the Nisei Japanese American woman who fought for the rights of the dispossessed, the freedom of political prisoners and redress for interned Japanese Americans.  You’ll see the Life Magazine photograph of Yuri cradling Malcolm X as he lay dying on the stage of the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem in 1965.  And you’ll be impressed by the fact that she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 through the “1,000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005” project.  That was the legend. In 1983, I met Yuri at Oberlin College when Asian American Student Coordinators Tommy Woon and Becky Lee invited me to open a student conference on Asian American Art and Artists.  I played my music and then listened to a dynamic Nisei woman speak about activism.  She reminded everyone […]

Take Me Out to the Ball Game 2014

May 6, 2014 at 8:48 pm
Terry Watada

By Terry Watada. Japanese baseball players have certainly had an impact on Major League Baseball.  From the idiosyncratic style of Hideo Nomo to the hitting prowess of Hideki Matsui (Godzilla), Japan has contributed a great deal to the old ball game.  Ichiro Suzuki, Yu Darvish, and this season’s pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka (and so many others) have thrilled fans from the get-go.  Mind you, they were superstars for their prospective teams back in Japan. In Toronto, Munenori Kawasaki is a fan favourite, even if he keeps bouncing up and down to and from the minor leagues.  Often described as “light hitting”, he is however a talented reliever at shortstop and can be counted on to get on base and steal.  He is famous for declaring to the Toronto press, “I am Japanese!”  In the stands, the spectators have concocted the “Kawasaki Bow” out of respect (I believe).  He is wonderful […]

Saying Goodbye

April 13, 2014 at 12:52 pm
Terry Watada

By Terry Watada. I could hear his voice almost it was clear,   articulate sharp to the ear, serious with a bit of an accent i couldn’ever place he told me to    remember. we are the children … i have a photograph, his image comes back like a corona spill  on the horizon his long hair,  his drooping moustache his thin smiling eyes behind aviator glasses in sandals, worn blue jeans and a black kimono   jacket his one fist raised above like an American Black     nation athlete in defiance of a cruel and racist state. he was young and strong then; held up by Malcolm, Stokely    and Angela Davis Yuri, and “Charlie” and Chris & Joanne and the matsuri swirled behind him  with the toshiyori resting on chairs  observing and smiling. the smells of tempura salmon gohan so-mein, chow mein  (Cumberland and otherwise) soaked like  smoke into his kimono and shone […]

Word Play – Part Two

March 9, 2014 at 11:38 pm
Terry Watada

By Terry Watada Last month, I looked at words coined during the Nisei and the beginning of the Sansei era.  This month, let’s look at the Sansei era proper and the Yonsei era with the help of the OED Birthday Generator. 1960            bouffy (as in bouffant hairdo, now that’s a word for its time) 1961            chocoholic 1962            blag (a tall story or bluff) 1963            cyberculture 1964            Beatlesque (still with us today) 1965            bada-bing (the Sopranos live) 1966            computernik 1967            mockney (this is Beatlesque) 1968            gasp 1969            megastar (must be related to Superstar) Other words of the 1960s: in-joke, foodaholic, expat, people-watch 1970            laugh-out-loud 1971            reboot 1972            guilt trip 1973            recyclist (the recycling movement begins) 1974            internet 1975            brainiac 1976            punkster or punk rock (Sid Vicious becomes prominent) 1977            nip & tuck (cosmetic surgery becomes a fad) 1978            gazillion 1979            bagsy (to claim something for yourself) Other words of the 1970s: Bollywood, Monty Pythonesque, number […]