Nisei Radicals: The Feminist Poetics and Transformative Ministry of Mitsuye Yamada and Michael Yasutake

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by Diane C. Fujino

University of Washington Press

12/31/2020, paperback

SKU: 9780295748269


Demanding liberation, advocating for the oppressed, and organizing for justice, siblings Mitsuye Yamada (1923-) and Michael Yasutake (1920-2001) rebelled against respectability and assimilation, charting their own paths for what it means to be Nisei. Raised in Seattle and then forcibly removed and detained in the Minidoka concentration camp, their early lives mirrored those of many second-generation Japanese Americans. Yasutake's pacifism endured even with immense pressure to enlist during his confinement and in the years following World War II. His faith-based activism guided him in condemning imperialism and inequality, and he worked tirelessly to free political prisoners and defend human rights. Yamada became an internationally acclaimed feminist poet, professor, and activist who continues to speak out against racism and patriarchy.

Weaving together the stories of two distinct but intrinsically connected political lives, Nisei Radicals examines the siblings' half century of dedication to global movements, including multicultural feminism, Puerto Rican independence, Japanese American redress, Indigenous sovereignty, and more. From displacement and invisibility to insurgent mobilization, Yamada and Yasutake rejected stereotypes and fought to dismantle systems of injustice.


"Diane Fujino, the chronicler of Japanese American radicalism, has written another remarkable book about remarkable people. Fujino deftly and sensitively traces the lives and activism of Yamada and Yasutake." -- Judy Wu, author of author of Radicals on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism during the Vietnam Era

"A delightful blend of biography, social history and poetics that shifts our reading of Japanese American history. Readers will certainly be inspired if not emboldened." -- Karen Umemoto, University of California, Los Angeles

About the Author:

Diane C. Fujino is professor of Asian American studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. Her books include Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama and Samurai among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance and a Paradoxical Life.