Photo album from "Hysteria, Racism, Politics" forum


Preview story: The present echoing the past will be examined at Sacramento State in “Hysteria, Racism, Politics: Parallels Between the WWII Japanese American Internment and Attitudes Toward the Muslim Community.”

Congresswoman Doris Matsui will be the keynote speaker at the free public forum, which will examine similarities between today's anti-Muslim rhetoric and a dark period in U.S. history 70-plus years ago.

Panel discussionA panel discussion featured (from left): Tim Fong, professor of ethnic studies; Ahlam Abdul-Rahman, a Sac State graduate student; Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Sacramento, and Marielle Tsukamoto, a retired teacher and principal from Elk Grove. (Sacramento State/Rob Neep)

The forum will be Friday, Feb. 19, at the Harper Alumni Center. A reception will be held from 4 to 5 p.m., followed by opening remarks and the keynote address from 5 to 5:45 p.m. After a brief break, a panel discussion will run from 6 to 7 p.m.

Scheduled panelists include:

  • Marielle Tsukamoto, a retired teacher and principal from Elk Grove who is well known for her work in educating the public about the Japanese American experience and the World War II relocation and internment.
  • Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Sacramento, a nonprofit that seeks to protect civil liberties, encourage dialogue, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding. He also co-founded a youth leadership program at the State Capitol and organizes an annual College and Career Fair at Sacramento State.
  • Ahlam Abdul-Rahman, a Sacramento State graduate student in the English Department. She has taken part in several public awareness projects on the necessity of promoting peace despite societal stereotypes and differences.

“In recent months, we have seen an alarming rise in fear-based rhetoric against the Muslim American community that runs counter to our American values,” Matsui says. “It is more important than ever that we remember the lessons of our past and join together as a community to find common ground. That is why I am so pleased University President Robert S. Nelsen and Sacramento State have created this forum, and I’m looking forward to participating.”

“It’s important to look back at the Japanese American experience during WWII to derive lessons of how innocent Americans suffered due to war hysteria and hate,” says Elkarra.

Tsukamoto notes the philosophy of the Nisei – second-generation Japanese Americans. “We speak and tell our story ‘for the sake of the children. … Never again!’ ” she says. “We have learned ‘justice is a matter of continuing education.’ ”

“It’s definitely important to look at the past because our perceptions of events and the feelings we derive from them are shaped by the past,” says Abdul Rahman. “Our past can never be ‘dead.’ In fact, it shapes our life on a daily basis.”

The address and forum is just one of many spring campus events that seek to celebrate and enhance Sacramento State’s diversity. For more information, visit – Craig Koscho

In the media:

"Congresswoman leads forum at Sac State," Fox 40

"Forum on 'Hysteria, Racism, Politics,' " KCRA 3