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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BRING IT ON: The Japantown Festival Controversy

The Japantown Festival threat controversy alone is bringing a ton of attention to Akit's Complaint Department and I will not let this issue down until Japantown's festivals will be saved and kept, and the tenant's association and developer apologizes in writing for their absolutely hateful letters. The Nihonmachi Street Fair may be over, but I won't give up.

Outside of the Japanese American media, I am especially greatful to the folks at Curbed SF and SF Citizen for their efforts to spread the word.

Reading Curbed SF's comments, I came around to reading this very hurtful comment left by an anonymous poster (comment #15):
What a group of losers! Your street fairs stink and your know it. I live on Bush and Laguna and look at those pathetic festivals as the last gasp of a gang of out-of neighborhood activists who don't even live in the 'hood. What's Vietnamese BBQ, the SFPD and sellers of cruddy womens clothes have to do with this neighborhood or its heritage. Sorry dudes, trying to save those lousy malls with their tired businesses will never make it. Time to put a Whole Foods/Trader Joe's in there -- something people actually want. Time for you to move on since none of you live here -- suspect most of you are mostly bridge and tunnel anyway with your parents parked in their segregated retirement ghettos.

Here is my reaction that I posted about one hour after it was posted (comment #16):

EXCUSE ME? If you don't like Japantown, get lost.

I am appalled that you do not have any respect for the Japantown neighborhood. We have been kicked out due to internment and redevelopment. We can't help it if our malls don't look nice on the outside because redevelopment screwed Japantown and forced many people to move somewhere else, such as the Richmond District, and even the East Bay. If you have ever patronized Japantown in any way, you should not give any disrespect to this community.

Understand this, while only about 10% of Japanese Americans still live in Japantown, many of us do come back when we can to patronize restaurants, help out the community organizations, and meet friends.

Let me say that one more time, a lot of us don't live in Japantown, but we still love it and support it. Come meet a bunch of my friends who have volunteered for this community for OVER 40 YEARS. Why not visit Kimochi, the non-profit organization still going strong, and talk to the hard working volunteers that keep the organization moving with great programs like their lunch program.

Although my late grandmother passed away, she is considered the "Godmother of Japantown" for her leadership to fight for redress for all Japanese Americans interned in the camps during WWII, and her endless volunteering to her community; from preparing meals to serve the elderly every single day to fundraising over a million dollars to build a senior care live-in facility. And she also lived on Bush and Laguna.

You know what, I don't mind that the festival sold Vietnamese food. We have a social responsibility to help out others as well. During my tenure as the leader of the Save Japantown movement in 2006, I said to the Filipino American community that we could use their support because we all have a responsibility to help struggling communities. Japanese Americans were out there supporting the protests at the International Hotel and we needed their support as well. That message alone brought in 3,000 petition signatures in just 24 hours.

That's the spirit of Japantown for you. We are a proud community.

--Aaron "Akit" Kitashima
Owner and Blogger of "Akit's Complaint Department"

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1 comment:

jwb said...

Misters McInerney and Zisser would be better off if they bent their minds to filling their ever-vacant ground floor retail space, instead of wasting their efforts antagonizing the neighborhood.