Age: 72

Hometown: Culver City, CA

Generation: 1st - Issei, 2nd - Nisei, 3rd - Sansei

Biography: Mike Murase has been involved in community and political activism since the 1960s. He co-founded the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, GIDRA (an Asian American Movement publication), and Little Tokyo Service Center. He was a leader in Asian Americans for Peace, Los Angeles Free South Africa Movement, and California Rainbow Coalition. Besides his involvement in the Japanese American community, he was an organizer in South Central LA for over two decades. He was Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ district director for 13 years. 

He is currently involved in efforts to build Terasaki Budokan, a community gym in Little Tokyo. His hobbies include point-and-shoot photography, hiking/walking, sports, and dumping Trump.

Name of Piece: Express Yourselves. Do It Together (Let It Out, Let It Go)

We all face stresses in our daily lives. We often hold them in or do not deal with them in healthy, productive ways. We think of them as individual issues that are not of much concern to others. The burdens of these stresses are often greater for people of color, women, young people, and others who are oppressed. I’ve been active in community and political causes since I was a young adult and one enduring lesson I have learned is that we can better cope, we can overcome, and we can change by doing it together with other like-minded individuals. Self-reflection, confiding in friends, or seeing a therapist all help, but I believe that unity and community, collective action, expressing ourselves as a group, and fighting together can make a world of a difference. 

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed point-and-shoot photography as a means of expression. Of the thousands of images I’ve taken, I wanted to share four pieces that reflect the strength of people coming together. Sometimes, we can fight the demons within us; other times, we fight to change the external evils—the injustices—that exist in society. I’ve always felt that social service(individual counseling, therapy, etc.) and social change(efforts to change what is around us) go hand-in-hand.