Staying Home From the Protest When People Are Dying

Rick Kitagawa (he/him)
5 min readJul 19, 2019
Photo by DDP on Unsplash

It was 11:45am when I saw a friend post about the protest in downtown San Francisco scheduled at 12pm.

I wasn’t even fully dressed yet, I had to send handouts to the copy office for my class I was teaching later that day, and I had also planned to watch the Women’s World Cup game between England and the US before doing some grading.

If you’re a media sponge like me, you might have also woken up that Tuesday to read about AOC’s visit to the southern border camps, where women are being told to drink water from toilets, children are being left in cages in extreme weather conditions, and all in all nothing good is happening. Children are dying (literally), and all in all, no matter your stance on illegal/undocumented immigration, it is hard to not call what is going on a humanitarian crisis.

After reading about the visits and the inhumane conditions going on down there, I was filled with anger, frustration, sadness, guilt, and was pretty overwhelmed. It could be because two days earlier I had just gone to the Then They Came For Me exhibit (still up until Sept 1, and free!) in San Francisco’s Presidio, which highlights the struggles of Japanese American citizens who lived through the internment camps of World War II.

The exhibit was extremely visceral for me. Not because of graphic photos or anything like that, but because it was also the story of my grandparents.

I could trace my own ancestor’s trail from the Stockton assembly station to the camps at Rohwer, Arkansas.

The poster talking about the difficulty of coming back after the camps reminded me of the brick shed that “mysteriously” burned down that had all of my grandparent’s possessions in it.

Via Wikimedia Commons and the public domain

Seeing what my grandparents had to live through in the form of real photos made it all that much impactful, and I was alternating between fighting back tears and choking down rage while I walked through the exhibit.

The fight for civil rights for all has been baked into me ever since I first learned of the internment camps. My hero in college was the…



Rick Kitagawa (he/him)

Amzn best-selling author talking trust, leadership, #NFTs, creativity, and horror fiction — Co-Founder,