Friday, September 24, 2004

Picking a Bone with Yuri

I finally received Yuri's memoir Passing It On from UCLA this afternoon. I was so excited and happy. It's like I just hit the lottery.

My friend Ben has photocopied the chapter from the memoir where Yuri wrote about me. I felt honored that Yuri wanted to include my poem in her memoir.

I started to read the memoir right away. I had to read many of the articles about Yuri in magazines and books. However, I didn't have much knowledge of her immediate and extended family. As I was reading the chapters about Yuri's children and grandchildren, the waves of inspiration sweat through me continuously. They're such extraordinary human beings and they exemplify the true revolutionary. When I read about the tragic death of Yuri's son Billy and daughter Aichi, my heart ached and eyes filled with tears. Why do so many good people always die young?! The beautiful thing is that their legacy lives on.

So I couldn't help myself by flipping to chapter 12 to read my autobiography at 33 poem again. As I was reading it, I noticed something's missing from the poem. After a second reading, I realized that the two places where Yuri's name was mentioned were missing. Yuri has taken her name out of my poem. I couldn't believe it.

Yuri is so selfless and humble that she didn't want her name to be praised. That's why I have a bone to pick with Yuri. By taking her name away from my poem, it altered the significance of the poem and its history.

Below are the places where Yuri took out her name:

- "My shero Yuri Kochiyama and a young sister named Monica, who is very pretty, wanted to come visit me."
- "They didn't know I've been introduced to Che, Yuri Kochiyama, Paulo Freire, Howard Zinn, etc..."

I don't feel that I'm worthy to be included in Yuri's memoir. However, it is Yuri's memoir. It says more about Yuri's character to embrace me.

I have only love and respect for you, Yuri.

You are my shero!

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