Densho Digital Repository
Seattle JACL Oral History Collection
Title: Janice Deguchi Interview
Narrator: Janice Deguchi
Interviewers: Alison Fujimoto, Joy Misako St. Germain
Date: November 11, 2020
Densho ID: ddr-sjacl-2-24-7

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AF:  I'm all out of questions. Joy, if there's anything you want to add, you can go ahead.

JSG: No, so I learned a lot about you, Janice, that I didn't know, and it's wonderful to have worked with you, too. But I just think, just one question about the future of JACL and your thoughts about it. Because I think JACL is still relevant, as you pointed out, with the recent letters that you talked about with King County Equity Now, Decriminalize Seattle. What are your thoughts about how just the future of JACL, and what you might suggest that JACL might focus on to make sure that there's continuity and sustainability of the organization as we approach this 100 year time frame?

JD: Yeah, that's a really interesting question. I mean, I think that, you know, like I said, I don't think I would be here without JACL. And I know it's not a leadership development program like ACLF or EDI, it's not a leadership development program. But it creates leaders through its activism and through its mentorship and through its mission. And I think, you know, there's so much work to do. There's so much work to do to repair all the wrongs in society and just thinking about, like, our own reparations that we were able to win for our parents and grandparents. And is there... can we -- and I think we talked about this when we talked with Bill, that JACL has taken a position in support of reparations for formerly slave, you know, descendants of enslaved individuals. And so, you know, if there's some leadership that can be had around that, you know, or you know, locally too, like what is the repair and the reconciliation that needs to happen? I mean, I don't know. I mean, I think, you know, part of it is, like, what is the interest and the passion of the current membership of JACL, too, and that was kind of the beauty when I was in JACL. There was this fund for the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, and I was really passionate about telling this story that hadn't been told. Or I-200, I mean, that was a big thing that I cared deeply about. And so I don't think I would be the right person ask, I think JACL needs to ask its members and its board and the people that are going, the young people that are going to keep JACL going and what's relevant to them, and what, what's their passion for what JACL can do. Because, you know, it has a hundred years of history, that can help create that credibility to do the next thing. I mean, and that's why with APDC, like, it was one thing when I when I when I got there and took the chair, but now it's something different, because, for me, what I wanted it to be was leadership and networking and some advocacy and holding people accountable, and I wanted to be more inclusive. And so as the membership changes, as leadership changes, then JACL needs to change based on, you know, what's going to be responsive to them, and what direction they want to take it. So I guess I put that back on you, maybe Alison or Joy, like, where do you see JACL going?

AF: I think... I don't know. I'm kind of interested to see how my generation gets involved with JACL. Because I feel like a lot of the Japanese American friends I have don't know about Japanese history. And kind of like you said, Janice, I didn't learn about this history until I entered U-Dub, basically, and I started taking these courses, because this isn't taught in my high school. This isn't taught in middle school. So I think that's something that's really important is like, how do we talk about Japanese American history and get it implemented into our education system, because it's so overlooked. They spend like, maybe a paragraph on it, that's all I remember. So I think I'm interested to see, maybe yeah, how my generation could get more involved with just learning about Japanese history, and then how you branch from the Japanese community helping other communities. That, like, often suffer from the same, like, oppression or difficulties that we face in society. So yeah, that's what I want to kind of see where JACL goes with that, and their involvement with the younger generations, yeah.

JD: Yeah, yeah. And I would agree. And I don't think my son or my daughter got any of that either in their high school. I know I didn't. Because, I mean, my daughter's school was different, her elementary school. Like me, and my mom and my daughter, we all went down to one of her, like her third grade class. And I'm like, "This is my mother. She was in a camp," and read the story Baseball Saved Us and we talked about it. But not every school is inviting like that, not every school is like that, or you're never you're never going to have that kind of experience. But things like, like the Minidoka pilgrimage, my son participated in the Minidoka pilgrimage for the first time in 2019, and it's life changing. It was life changing. So he's a different person than before. Yeah, I mean, and, you know, there's different things for everybody, and some people are into that and some people are into civil rights or whatever. But yeah, yeah, there's definitely, you know, if you can find that whatever, spark or thing that that helps people or connects people, then yeah, that's where you should go.

AF: Yeah, definitely. Cool. Okay, any more questions, Joy, you have or any last thoughts you want to ask?

JSG: No. It's just nice to connect with you, Janice. And I hope to come to one of your APDC meetings, too, now that it's virtual.

JD: I know. It's a lot easier now that it's virtual.

AF: And I guess if we have any follow up questions, we can just email you again like last time, yeah. Thank you so much again for this.

JD: No problem, yeah. Thank you.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2020 Seattle Chapter JACL. All Rights Reserved.