Little Tokyo Nikkei

Evelyn Yoshimura

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Coming of age in the 1960s, Evelyn Yoshimura and her Asian-American peers were already being pigeon-holed as “model minorities.”

As a civil rights activist and one of the founding editors of Gidra ― a newspaper written for and by members of the Asian civil rights movement ― Yoshimura railed against the myth of the quiet, socially obedient Asian-American.

In one Vietnam-era essay, she pointed out the parallels and kinship that should have existed between Vietnamese people and Asian-Americans in the U.S.

“We must destroy the stereotypes of Asian women, and Asian people, as a whole, so we can define ourselves, and be free to realize our full and total potential,” she wrote. “Just as the U.S. government, through forced control, denies the Vietnamese people of their right to self-determination and self-definition, the racism needed to maintain that control cripples us as Asians in America.”

Tammy Duckworth
Sesshu Foster: PoetryLA