Elaine Ikoma Ko

Elaine Ikoma Ko is the former Executive Director of the Hokubei Hochi Foundation, a nonprofit that helps The North American Post, Seattle’s Japanese community newspaper, where this article was first published. She is a member of the U.S.-Japan Council, an alumnus of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) to Japan, and leads spring and autumn group tours to Japan.

Updated April 2021

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Bill Tashima: Gaining His Identity and Acceptance - Part 3

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Bill, the earlier period was obviously a hard time for you. Today you are married to your husband, Chris, and have a stepson, Colby. Can you talk about your current family and how you moved forward with your life?

This part is both “storybook” and “commonplace” at the same time. I did not go out socially for years after Lou’s death. When I was ready to start seeing people again, I was terrified. How do you put yourself “back on the market” when you are in your 50s?

The storybook part is that I met the …

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Bill Tashima: Gaining His Identity and Acceptance - Part 2

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What were the internal conflicts you struggled with? How did you manage it or how did it impact you from the standpoint of your mental health, personal self-image, and confidence?

I loved my parents and they raised me to be proud of my JA heritage. We went to movies that featured JA actors. I remember seeing Go for Broke (1951) in the 1950s and they taught me to persevere if taunted about being JA. But they also instilled the thought that somehow my actions reflected on all other JAs, so if I did something wrong, then …

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Bill Tashima: Gaining His Identity and Acceptance - Part 1

Bill Tashima is a beloved community volunteer in the Seattle Nikkei (Japanese ancestry) and Asian American communities, having been involved with many nonprofits and receiving awards for his service. Yet, readers know little about his life journey as a gay man, losing his partner to AIDS, and his family’s love and support that has allowed him to evolve into the wonderfully whole and healthy person he is today. This three-part series will explore his extraordinary story. 

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Bill, while many people know you, there are many who are not familiar with all your community activities. As …

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Larry Matsuda, A Masterful Life - Part 3

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What raised your consciousness about the incarceration camps and tell us about your involvement in developing the Pride and Shame exhibit during the 1970’s.

As a child, I remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I mouthed the words and did not say them out loud because I knew they did not apply to me.

The Civil Rights Movement of the ’60s and reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965) motivated me to move from “thinking about history” to “taking action.” As a teacher at Sharples Junior High, I started the first Asian-American history class in 1969. …

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Larry Matsuda, A Masterful Life - Part 2

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You became involved in the social and racial justice activism of the late 1960’s. What was it like and tell us about your groundbreaking success with UW’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)?

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was exciting. African Americans were in the lead and later Asians became active. In Seattle, there were Asian American counter-culture community newspapers like “The Asian Family Affair” with activists Al Sugiyama, Kathy Sugiyama, Frank Irigon, Eugene Tagawa, and others who published the monthly. I believe the local “International Examiner” was taken over by community activists a short time …

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