Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
In this podcast, Shizue picks up where she left off in Part 1. Her paternal grandmother, Shige, had just located her husband in Stockton. Shizue goes into more depth about her grandmother's life.
Her dad, Barry, grew up in Stockton and went to UC Berkeley. He was set to graduate in June 1942. But then Pearl Harbor was bombed in December 1941. The order to "relocate" Japanese-Americans to internment camps was issued in February 1942. Her mom's family had been in camp in Arizona.
At this point in the conversation, we springboard to a larger, broader talk about the dominant, northern European culture in this country and what it's like not to be part of it.
Shizue worked for many years at the J. Walter Thompson office in San Francisco. At first a fine arts student, she switched to commercial art at the Academy of Art here in The City and got the job in advertising. She describes a white, male-dominated work culture and how she navigated that.
We rewind to talk about Shizue's early life. Her parents met shortly after WWII, when Japanese-Americans who had been forced into internment camps were now free. Her dad joined the Army and so the family moved around. Shizue was born in Baltimore. Around the time she was 12, they moved back to California and eventually up from the Santa Clara Valley to San Francisco, where Shizue went to high school.
She describes being a shy, bookworm-ish kid who strove to fit into the "model minority" demographic. That ended when she was a teenager and had an existential crisis.
After her work in advertising, she ended up doing HIV prevention outreach to folks living in subsidized public housing. It was through this work that Shizue started to turn her attention toward people of color. She also started writing poetry.
We end the episode with Shizue's thoughts on our theme this this season: "We're still here."
Shizue's personal site is https://www.shizueseigel.com/.
Her creative writing for people of color website is https://www.writenowsf.com/.
We recorded this podcast at Shizue's apartment in the Outer Richmond in November 2021.