More thoughts on Richard, by Mo Nishida
- Revised 9/24/12 -
Why I say Richard is/was my respected friend, komrad, mentor and crime partner in an earlier statement and the feedback that I used fine words, but gave no examples of what I meant. I accept that criticism and this is my response.
Early in his life, Richard was made to be conscious of his responsibility for his brother and later in his life, taking care of his mama. In our Japanese (Jpse.) culture, these responsibilities are grouped under the term “oya koko,” familial loyalties and responsibilities, usually associated with parents. Many, like myself are not good examples, but we know the real deal when we see it and can dig/respect the practitioner.
Later on in his life, his curiosity takes him into the world of the ‘left’, organizationally and academic study wise. In fact, he was one of the most well read dudes that I know/knew. All or much of the stuff he read, like Hegel, Capital, Bakunin, etc. I only heard of, except possibly Chairman Mao. He had read, studied and more importantly, had thought seriously about what he had read and wanted to discuss it with anyone who was interested from a practical perspective.
By the time he gets to Merrit college, he is a veteran and a weapons expert. He can take apart an M-1 carbine, Garand, not to mention the famous 45 caliber pistol, and reassemble all of them blindfolded. That was the ideal or goal, blindfolded! I put in three years active duty, two of them in the airborne and the best I could do was get skinned up knuckles. I like to shoot ‘em, not clean ‘em. But that’s the dialectic, if you shoot, you gotta clean ‘em.
He also was an advocate of armed self defense, not militant pacifism that was so popular behind Saint Martin at the time. Made sense to me, I wouldn’t turn the other cheek. The teachings of brother Malcolm X, “By any means necessary” came to life in this era of the “Deacons for Defense” and Robert Williams chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
Many of us, in this era of segregation, lived shoulder to shoulder with Black folks, others with Brown/Red folks. Richard’s life was about developing Black, Yellow unity and when he went to Berkeley in the Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA), he advocated and built Asian/Pacific Unity and through the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF), he worked on People of Color Unity and not forgetting white allies. He also promoted and practiced International Solidarity. All the while, many if not most of us, still lived, ate and breathed in our ethnic communities and cultures.
For me, Asian Hardcore was mostly Jpse. Ditto Community Workers Collective (CWC), as was the East Wind Collective and I did “Serve the People” work out of the Office of” Asian Involvement of the “Japanese American Community Services” (JACS-AI). But, we also did coalition work with the KDP, a revolutionary Filipino youth group, with I Wor Kuen (IWK) and the Red Guards Party that were mainly Chinese youth and Omai Fatasi Samoan youth. We all were conscious of building Asian Pacific Unity.
In building Third World unity, we did support work with the American Indian Movement (AIM) at Wounded Knee; the Brown Berets (Chicana/o & Mexicana/o youth), Los Tres, the Chicana/o hi-school blow outs; And many new Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalist organizations including the Panthers and the “Free Huey” campaign and with pre-NAPO celebrations of Malcolm’s and Uncle Ho Chi Min’s birthday. Our International Solidarity work included opposition to the Viet Nam war, apartide in South Afrika and the “hands off Cuba” solidarity movement to name a few. We were all on the same path: Unite the many, isolate the few, under 3rd world / People of Color leadership.
While at Berkeley, as spokesperson for the Asian Amerikan Studies(AAS) central committee, far reaching practices were initiated. One of the demands at both San Francisco state’s strike and Berkeley’s, was the use of university resources to serve our communities directly. AAS rented a house off-campus, called it “Ho Chi Min” Hall and ran programs for the community in the community.
The issue of student empowerment and democratic practices saw the student evaluation of Instructors put into practice with teeth, when a particularly arrogant instructor was not asked to come back on the recommendation of the students. In another revolutionary innovation, the whole payroll was collectivized and “survival pay” bottom line was developed and implemented, the result? More people were able to be hired for the bucks coming in.
He left Berkeley at the height of his popularity and innovations. The school, Berkeley, was gearing up to fire him. They were bringing in another Jpse.-american, an opportunist, who dismantled and ripped the guts out of the program, in the name of “academic excellence” as opposed to “Serve the People” and our community. Richard never took credit, always serving the central committee.
All those years in the community college system were summed up at his memorial service, where People of Color, workers, students, both individuals and organizations, community groups all came and paid tribute to a bratha. He showed, although not a part of a revolutionary collective, he could still “Serve the People.” This is classical Mao, “lean to the left.” Many who took straight jobs only thought of their own survival and upward mobility, he showed that you could be principled and outspoken and still be respected by your peers.
This was shown in a series of meetings and gatherings, since Dianne’s book receptions and especially since the jerk’s attack, when many, many folks out of Richard’s past have come forth to honor the Bratha. No one that I know of has attacked him or claimed they were injured by any of his actions. So, weigh the evidence, a long history with many friends and cohorts versus the FBI’s files and two old run down FBI agents. Still a no brainer to me.
When he retires and hits the streets, he is hip-deep in the people’s work. He was working with Yuri on promoting a general strike in the Bay, opposing the invasion Iraq and Afganistan. We worked together promoting a national conference to see the effects of incarceration on our communities. It didn’t happen; we couldn’t generate support from the many newer Asian/Pacific ethnic folks out there, who had other pressing needs and priorities that were more important.
Finally, his ability to talk to almost anyone and see revolutionary potential in all its different disguises was always a joy for me to listen to and then to meet some of these folks was too kool. His “revolutionary morality” too was sometimes mistaken for the “nice Japanese man” stereotype. The topper is, of course, he had mellowed and was charming, sincere, warm, witty and had a great sense of humor. Pretty charismatic? Damn right!
Now that we’ve had a little time to think and look at the “big picture,” this is what it looks like to me. This is to answer the question, Why now? Dianne Fujino’s book was getting good reviews and her book tour was successful, especially in the bay area. The jerk, has only a small segment of his book on Richard. Yet he piggybacks his opening to take advantage of the popularity of Dianne’s book. His attack is a full court press in the bay area, every media outlet is blasted! Now who planned and financed all this? The publishers? Not! I don’t think so.
The man has used all opportunities to attack revolutionaries, people of color, workers, eco-fighters, sistas, any body that stands up to their (the 1%) bullshit. In the recent past, look at 9/11 and what do we get? The patriot bill and other right wing crap. Katrina, help for the people? Naw, we get ethnic cleansing. So. Why not use a wannabe jerk to attack Richard and belittle and discredit our movement and people.
Our movement is growing by leaps and bounds, not only here, everywhere. Why not take this chance given by the jerk to try and destroy the reputation of a peoples’ warrior, make our movement look untrustworthy, split ethnic communities. They can try and they sure as hell will try. But it ain’t gonna fly, just as Richard represents the fighting spirit, warriors’ heart and the tradition of resistance to repression of our people, there be youth and others out there that can see the oaky doke and will pick up the stick and the flame of eternal hope to beat the attack back.
With what I’ve written, I hope that you can see what kind of cat the Bratha was. A snitch? That white boy ain’t got no mama, ‘cause he sure ain’t got no soul. Richard Lives!!!
All Power To The People/Aluta Continua mo