Saturday, July 05, 2008

Whose America? Who's American?

I am privileged to have spoken today at a remarkable conference organized by the Enduring Communities project of the Japanese American National Museum. I was on a panel with Cynthia Kadohata, moderated by Naomi Hirahara--gifted writers both.

When I was first invited to this conference I thought there must be some mistake. What could I possibly have to say that would be of interest to a gathering of people with a specific historical background of which I had no part? But all day, between my sessions, I've listened to an array of speakers examine the Japanese American internship experience, the redress movement culminating in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, and the larger meaning of these to America and to the world,

I'm deeply touched by the incredible inclusiveness of this program. When I spoke on my panel and later read with Cynthia, I became aware that my books, about a very different cultural experience, were still seen by the audience as relevant to a larger story. This afternoon's plenary session included a presentation by Dr. Anan Ameri, of the Arab American National Museum. And then there was the presentation by Adam Schrager, author of a biography of former Colorado Gov. Ralph Carr who sacrificed his political career by standing up for the rights of Japanese Americans. And much more. There's a generosity of spirit here that inspires, enlightens, and empowers. I'm very grateful.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Updates and Downloads

My student Nandini Bajpai sends this lovely picture of her daughter's Josefina doll, dressed in salwar kameez.

Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee, Savitri by Aaron Shepard, and my book, The Broken Tusk, are all featured on The Horn Book's list of recommended titles on Hinduism and Buddhism.

Shenaaz Nanji's richly textured YA novel, Child of Dandelions tells the story of a family of Indian origin exiled from Uganda in 1972.