Date/Time: Wednesday, November 18, 4:30pm Pacific Time/7:30pm Eastern Time.
This event is co-sponsored by our friends at AARP and Comcast
The Japanese American community is one of the few to have a continually growing majority mixed population in the United States. With more members of the community growing up mixed race, experiences, and ties to their Nikkei identity and community are changing in new ways. However, this has not come without discrimination and ostracizing from others in the community. Understanding the history and experiences of mixed race Nikkei is vital to the understanding of what it means to be Japanese American now and in the future. Our webinar will include a presentation on the history of mixed race Nikkei from Dr. Curtiss Takada Rooks followed by a panel discussion featuring Matthew Weisbly, Christine Munteanu, Vini Taguchi, Sarah Baker, and Mariko Rooks. The event will end with breakout discussions for participants to discuss their own experiences in and around the community. We look forward to you joining us for a thoughtful discussion!
Curtiss Takada Rooks, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator, Asian Pacific American Studies at Loyola Marymount University, where he also served eight years as Associate Dean, Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Rooks teaches courses in AAPI multiracial identity, Japanese TransPacific diaspora and contemporary AAPI community issues. His teaching also includes short-term study abroad programs in Japan. Research interests focus on Asian American multiracial identity examining the role of multiracial Japanese Americans in US Japan relations, global Nikkei identity and he has spoken widely on multiracial identity issues, including a TEDxLMU Talk entitled: “The Story of Is: Navigating the Intersectionalities of Growing Up Mixed.” A second trajectory of engaged scholarship includes participatory community-based research focusing on cultural competency in community health & wellness, ethnic community development and college/university persistence and retention.
Matthew Weisbly is the current Daniel K. Inouye Policy Fellow for the Japanese American Citizens League in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in Japanese and Japanese American history, and a double minor in East Asian Languages and Cultures, and cinematic arts. His senior honors thesis explored demographic data and oral histories of Nisei soldiers with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In school, he was formerly the President of his school’s Nikkei Student Union, Vice-President of the Mixed Race Student Community, and was part of the collegiate taiko group, Kazan Taiko. All while working part-time for the Asian Pacific American Student Services office on campus. A long time JACL member, he also served as the Youth Representative for the Arizona Chapter and as the inaugural Ted T. Namba fellow for the PSW district.
Christine Munteanu is an assistant director in Northwestern’s Multicultural Student Affairs Office, which supports LGBTQIA+ students, students of color, and Native and Indigenous students. In her role she focuses on supporting the APIDA (Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi American) student community through programs, advising, and advocacy. Prior to coming to Northwestern, Christine worked for 7 years at the Japanese American Citizens League, where she helped run anti-hate, education, and leadership programs.
Sarah Baker currently serves on the JACL National Board as the Vice President of Public Affairs. She is also on the board of the Seattle Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) where she recently finished serving for four years as Board President. She presently works for Communities Rise, an organization that provides pro bono legal services to nonprofits and small businesses within the state of Washington. In addition to this, she also holds a part-time job at Pike Place Market where she has worked for the past 16 years and is a graduate student at Seattle University. She is passionate about exploring intersectionality as a queer, mixed-race person, and loves to lead identity workshops. A Seattle-born Japanese American, Baker enjoys working out, sensory deprivation tanks, and expression through different forms of movement such as dance.
Vini Taguchi is a shin-sansei with respect to when his grandfather moved from Sapporo, Japan to Brazil, but he is a shin-issei with respect to when he and his parents immigrated to North Carolina in 1996. Vini now serves on the executive board of the JACL Twin Cities chapter in Minneapolis, Minnesota and recently organized and facilitated a series of virtual workshops challenging anti-Blackness in Japanese American communities. Vini is a PhD candidate in civil engineering at the University of Minnesota where he studies green infrastructure and stormwater management. And Vini is dedicated to ensuring that environmentally-friendly cities are also socially sustainable by partnering with community organizations to prevent green gentrification.
Mariko Rooks is a senior at Yale University, where she is double-majoring in the History of Public Health and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. She is also a dual MPH candidate in Social and Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in U.S. Racial Health Justice. As a part-time Connecticut resident (Quinnipiac land), Mariko has the privilege of serving as the Eastern District Council (EDC) representative of the JACL’s National Youth/Student Council. Originally from Los Angeles, California (unceded Tongva land), she also is a longtime member of Japanese American community institutions such as Kizuna, Senshin and Nishi Buddhist Temples, and Sansei Baseball.
In her spare time, Mariko plays water polo for the Yale women’s team and serves as the research lead for USA Water Polo’s Racial Equity and Reform Task Force. Additionally, she writes and performs with Yale’s Asian American spoken word group JookSongs, serves as an executive board member for Yale’s Black Solidarity Conference, conducts historical research on medicine and the slave trade, and interviews changemakers and creatives as the Arts and Intersectionality Lead for Changing Womxn Collective, a literary platform designed to uplift the stories and work of women, femme, and non-binary BIPOC.