The world recently lost Yuri Kochiyama, human rights activist and survivor of U.S. sanctioned Japanese internment camps. In a recent blog post on Edutopia, José Vilson writes in her memory in reminding us that we all play a part in the betterment of the human experience. He writes, “We need to consistently talk about what would help people feel included, whether in our school or in our lives.”
His suggestions for doing so are fairly straightforward, yet in practice much more difficult. His first suggestion is to “keep both ears open.” By this he means to listen to what are friends and colleagues are saying and taking time to process their communication before responding. Being heard is powerful, but so is being able to hear. The next suggestion Vilson offers is “diversity of thought and experience.” He argues that diversity is more than just the obvious, but also includes the experiences we bring to each project, classroom, and situation we encounter.
Vilson’s final suggestion is “voice is an agency.” Here he brings this piece back to the powerful activist work of Yuri Kochiyama, who used her voice to advocate for the civil rights of Japanese Americans, and all those oppressed by systems of power and privilege.