Densho Digital Repository
Seattle JACL Oral History Collection
Title: Sharon Sobie Seymour Interview
Narrator: Sharon Sobie Seymour
Interviewers: Kristen M. Eng, Bill Tashima
Date: December 15, 2020
Densho ID: ddr-sjacl-2-27-9

<Begin Segment 9>

SS: And it took the... I did leave, I think you have to know that I did leave on December 2000. I decided right there, that's when I decided. I was at a party, it was a party of everybody. We didn't have a meeting, we had a little holiday celebration. And anyone talks to me, I felt ignored. And I would rather be yelled at than be ignored. I mean, go ahead and yell at me. Because either I'll take it because I feel I deserve it, or I'll give it right back at you twice as hard. But ignoring me, made... it took the wind out of my sail. And I thought, huh. That now I gave up too much to be here. I gave up my family, you know, raising my little girl, being with my husband, being with my family to do this. So, I thought now it's okay. I'm proud of all that happened. I can't change any of it. I did it to the best of my ability. I did it with the most pure heart as I could. And I felt like I took on some of the hard issues and questions that a lot of people, I was kind of the bad cop. And I've actually taken that and moved forward with my work and with other things. I now am the bad cop. If there's a good cop and a bad cop, I'm the bad cop, and I guess I'm kind of comfortable with it now. I take it as, the bad cop is the person who does the dirty work. And it's okay, I can do it. I'm kind of a tough chick, so I can do it. But that was that was my answer. I think it was quite difficult. I don't want to go into too much more, because it doesn't matter. But it really doesn't matter because it's not the same anymore. So, I went to my first JACL Installation Banquet. I went to two since I've left. One was at, when you guys did, we all got interviewed again. Remember, Bill?

BT: Yes.

SS: We did, that was a... no, 75th, maybe?

BT:  No, you know, I thought it was our 88th or 90th.

SS: Okay.

BT: It wasn't that long ago.

SS: Okay. And then...

BT: And I... by the way I've been trying to locate those tapes. Lori Matsukawa interviewed us.

SS: Actually, I don't think it was Lori. It wasn't Lori. It was a news camera person, but it was not Lori.

BT: Oh, Lori interviewed me. I remember that.

SS: Okay.

BT: Ryan Chin, I thought just had his camera. Taking pictures.

SS: Oh, no, no. So, the one I'm thinking of, and I don't know. I know that we were interviewed by someone from channel 5, but it was not Lori because I knew Lori. I did not know this woman who interviewed me. She interviewed me, she interviewed Janice, Jeff, those are... and David because we were kind of boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, and at the same time. And it was a camera crew from channel 5? Channel 4? I don't know. One of the two. Anyways, I forgot now what I was saying. I went to, the last one I went to was 2017? No, 2000? Maybe? Yeah, maybe 2017. When we were talking about the 75th and the LC, big award of LC. Anyways...

BT: [Inaudible].

SS: Yeah, maybe. So, that was 2017, something like that. Anyways, when I saw you guys take a picture of the chapter, all you guys got together and took that picture afterwards, I almost started to cry. I just, I just almost started to cry. It just made me feel so good, and it made me so proud. And I thought, you know what, if all the stuff that I went through helped lead to this, then I'm okay. I'm okay, I'm okay. It's okay, it's okay. Again, I have some war wounds, but you know, I'm a tough girl. So...

BT: Well, Sharon, I have to say, because like I said, your year was my first year on the board. And I think I was a little oblivious to some of the things you're saying.

SS: Oh, no. I didn't know that.

BT; I actually don't, sometimes I'm missing things that I should be, pay attention to. So, if... I had no intent for any slight or anything to you, because I always thought you were a good president. Not that I knew how to measure, a measurement because I didn't know any other presidents. But I was... the only other person I really knew on that board was Elaine Akagi because we were such good friends for years.

SS: Right, right.

BT: But I wanted to say that I was unaware that you were the first hapa president, and I actually didn't even, I didn't even think about it until you said that. And I think it's because people of my generation -- all my friends -- very few married Japanese, Sansei. Part of it was just the way it was. When you're looking for a partner, there's not a lot. If you're going to be picky like that, you're really narrowing the field.

SS: Well, yeah.

BT: Especially for me, if you're gay, and that's even, real narrow. But, I didn't think about that. And I think what you were saying at first, part of it might have been that parents, Nisei, they may have been used, gotten used to the idea that their children would not marry. But I mean, but they didn't think about the grandchildren. And so maybe that was part of the... it's kind of like when you have a grandchild, when you have a baby, it doesn't matter. Everybody just thinks all babies are so cute. And there's... but as they get older, then grandparents get more worried. "Oh, I wonder what's gonna happen?" I see that with Colby's grandma right now. And that may have been part of it. But they get used to it. Then, just think about it, Sharon. Afterwards, we had Tatsuo Nakata, who was hapa, and he was younger. He, and I don't think people gave him a hard time. And then, since that time, I think almost all of our presidents -- because we've had such young presidents -- have been hapa. And then, I don't, I never heard even anybody say anything about HyeEun Park, who was our president in 2013. We've had our first Korean American president.

SS: That was wonderful.

BT: Yeah. So, I think that things have changed. And I'm sorry if there was those issues with you. The other thing I wanted to mention, and I won't go into detail...

SS: Well, first of all, Bill, you don't have to apologize for anything. I don't want anyone to... it's okay, like I said.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2020 Seattle Chapter JACL. All Rights Reserved.