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Abuse has a long half-life

These are the remarks I prepared for yesterday’s press conference marking the Trump Administration’s failure to reunite children with their families. From the complete annihilation of families through the massive abuse and enslavement of African Americans to the forcible removal of Native and Indigenous children into the horrific Indian Schools to the internment of Japanese Americans to the separations necessitated by the Muslim Ban, this nation has a shameful history of destroying families of color. WE CANNOT REMAIN SILENT UNTIL THESE FAMILIES ARE REUNITED AND GRANTED ASYLUM because they are all now victims of abuse by the government of the United States of America.


Good morning my name is Reverend Leslie Takahashi and I am here today to ask us to begin with a summoning of the resources of our spirit as well as our minds and our hearts. I asked us to do this because we summon our spirit when there are issues larger than the resources obvious before us. Our spirit connects us to the largest truths including the truth that every life has value, worth and dignity. I also asked us to bring into our hearts today image of a child that we love or the image of someone we love as a child. This morning I bring into my heart–and I hope into yours the image of my father as the preschooler he was when he was forcibly relocated as a Japanese American citizen in a time of national hysteria. My father was young, he was with his family and they got out early using a provision that allowed them to move to the East Coast in response to a labor shortage there. The conditions he endured were not anyway as heinous as those faced by the children we witness for today and yet abuse has a long half-life and his experience in that camp shaped his life and mine and continue to even touch the lives of my children for traumatic experience is transmitted generationally often through substance abuse and violence and other self-defeating behaviors.

That is why we are gathered here today because the lives of the precious children and their parents that have been imperiled by these immoral policies must now be held in OUR EMBRACE not just in this moment but in many moments to come for so much damage has been done and those who have perpetrated this must be held to account.

As we hear the knowledge and facts that the speakers who will.come after me impart, let us do so knowing that our faith will also be needed for the journey before these precious children and their afflicted families is a long one. To be faithful is simply to embrace a hope beyond our knowing and we must act in hope and faith for these children and to ensure that other children do not suffer the same horrors. Because of what has been done, we now must do whatever we can to affirm the rights and dignity of these lives which will now forever wrestle with questions of their own worth.

My father died three years ago this week and even to his last hours he was affected by the internment, an internment again on which he had his mother and three older siblings with him. Immensely gifted he got scholarships and a Ph.D. in biochemistry and yet the demons within him ultimately deprived him of the accomplishments and connections which make life meaningful. My father died three years ago just short of his 80th birthday and even in his last articulate hours, the trauma of his preschool experience was with him. Within the confusion of his dementia, he thought the thickened water they were giving him to keep him from checking was the bitter water of the dessert at the Poston Arizona internment camp. His confusion and his fear cleared only for a moment when he asked my sister and me to keep working for racial justice. That is why I am here and why each of you are here because these children and their families need to know they are not forgotten. Not now and not in the years to come for what has been done to them will not be easily undone. NO life is expendable and no life should be sacrificed for political gain

In the spirit of resistance, resilience, restoration and the faith to keep showing up even when the path is not clear, we gather today.

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