Densho Digital Repository
Seattle JACL Oral History Collection
Title: Gabrielle Nomura Gainor Interview
Narrator: Gabrielle Nomura Gainor
Interviewers: Ana Tanaka, Dr. Kyle Kinoshita
Date: December 17, 2021
Densho ID: ddr-sjacl-2-29-2

<Begin Segment 2>

AT: So you mentioned being part of JACL and things. How would... how did you become involved in that? What got you into it? Things like that.

GG: Yeah. So back to what we were discussing with the... wow I wish I had majored in Ethnic Studies, because I think I probably would have been less full of rage. When I was going to Western for my undergraduate degree, I was studying dance and journalism. And I was in a very white environment, surrounded by whiteness, really. And kind of went through this period -- I think a lot of us go through this when we're growing up. I feel like I've seen various writings about this for how people of color kind of go through this identity-forming phase, almost like an adolescence or young adulthood of figuring out who they are and also kind of going from, wow I want to be just like everyone else, I just want to blend in, to like, no, what happened to me is racist and it's not okay. And this is now going to be like, and now I'm kind of coming to embrace what makes me different. And so I was just like, I was going to school in this very white environment, but I was really craving just like a sense of identity. And so I was doing all sorts of just, I think I was just kind of doing what I felt I needed to do, which I was like, I was taking taiko classes with Stan Shikuma. I was reaching out to the JACL in Seattle because I wanted to get in involved. And I think it was even, I even reached out to this woman, Kazuko, who I've been working with with the Japanese dance. Because I think I was just really craving a sense of belonging somewhere and probably being in this very white environment only underscored how lonely I was. And just I wanted to feel centered and reflected somewhere. A lot of my JA family are in Los Angeles. So, I feel like I've really had to work to cultivate that sense of family and community. Oh, I also volunteered at what used to be Nikkei Concerns and then became Keiro Northwest because I think I just, again, like I missed being around -- I missed my great grandparents, I just missed being around Nikkei elders, and I miss being around family. And, so I think Bill Tashima just responded to my query -- Bill Tashima from Seattle JACL -- responded to my query on Facebook and kind of just like had lunch or coffee with me or something. Hey, Mika. And kind of just got me involved.

AT: Hello.

GG: And, yeah, and so Bill -- hi, baby. So Bill got me involved. And it really, it was amazing. It really does... I feel like, with the volunteering at Nikkei Concerns and the JACL, it really does, I can't speak for everyone in the JACL community, but it really, it is like another family. Like it is a community, but it really does give me that feeling of being around my aunties and uncles and cousins and like Baachan and Jiichan, and like all that, and it just, yeah, I think it was really important for my growth in so many ways, like my just kind of spiritual health to be around that sense of family. And then also just like my professional growth of just getting more comfortable speaking in front of people and getting to work together on projects and finding my voice. And, my mom actually got involved with the board after me, and it's been similar for her too. It's like, she is deathly afraid of public speaking and I think JACL has really given her a sense of family and community, and she's grown a lot and even does some public speaking. [Laughs]

AT: That's really cool.

GG: Yeah.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2021 Seattle Chapter JACL. All Rights Reserved.