My dad moved here when he was in his early twenties and started his own business. My mom and I moved here when I was one. My parents gave me and my sister everything we could ever ask for. They are the strongest, most resilient, and selfless people I know. To me, they embody what it means to be an immigrant in this country.

December 7th was my least favorite day throughout elementary school.

Every year on that day, an intercom announcement would blast through the classrooms to owe remembrance to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Every year, I would sit in my seat and pray for the moment to pass. My sister and I were the only Japanese students in our school district, and I single-handedly carried the feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and shame at the mention of my home country. Back then, I didn’t quite understand where those feelings came from, but my discomfort showed through flushed cheeks and sweaty palms.


Graphic by Virginia Jansen, found on

Welcome to the 21st century.

In this strange digital world, social media heavily influences everything from mundane daily communications to fast-paced meme exchanges, to the ways in which we confront pressing social issues like racial injustice. We’re seeing that this reality has only been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has further replaced the bulk of our previously in-person interactions with Tweets and posts.

From what I’ve seen even just in the past two weeks, the display of public outrage over the most recent wave of injustices against Black lives has unfolded new dynamics in the space of social media…

Image found on

In the past week, I’ve had three friends tell me that the way I talk about social justice makes them feel judged, talked down to, and strains our interactions at times.

And damn, that one hurt.

It hurt because the last thing I want to do is to make the people I care about, feel like they’re walking on eggshells or unable to speak their minds around me. I am lucky to have friends who make me feel that they care to listen to what I have to say, and I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to reciprocate that…

Risa Takenaka

Big fan of creative storytelling. Passionate about creating intentional solutions to tackle complex social issues.

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