Featuring Shizue Seigel

It wasn’t just drugs and AIDS and violence that killed, but a soul-rotting sense of worthlessness. The community volunteers felt better by making the world safer, one condom at a time.
Shizue Seigel 2017.jpeg

About Shizue

Shizue Seigel is a San Francisco writer and visual artist who explores marginalization, displacement and cross-cultural social justice through memoir, poetry and essay, as well as photography, painting, mixed media and cartography. Her books include In Good Conscience: Supporting Japanese Americans during the Internment, A Century of Change: The Memoirs of Nellie Nakamura and Distillations: Meditations on the Japanese American Experience. She is finishing her memoir, Miss Goody-Good Grows Up, with support from a San Francisco Arts Commission grant. As a largely self-taught writer, she leads community-based freewrites and her work has been published in several anthologies. www.shizueseigel.com

We had a chance to interview author Shizue Seigel, whose essay "Swimming in the New Normal" appears in All the Women in My Family Sing. This is what we learned...

What inspired you to write your essay for this anthology?

My beacon is my Bachaan, my immigrant grandmother, whose deep Buddhist faith carried her though poverty in Japan, and prejudice and mass incarceration in the US. She lived in the here and now, without bitterness and fear, with boundless compassion for the less fortunate.

What is one of the most memorable challenges you have experienced as a woman of color in the 21st century?

The challenge is get back to basics. Take only what you need, and share the extra. Focus on what you can directly impact, and trust that others are working on their own piece. Stay connected with the unity and love at the source of existence, and act with integrity and compassion even when others may not. No one can take away your power unless you let them.

Give an example of women’s roles in today's social justice movement.

We are surrounded by nameless, faceless women who do the right thing every single day. As teachers, mothers, organizers and administrators, already lead by their actions; they become leaders when they recognize their power.

What have your experiences been in leadership as a woman of color? 

My community writing projects have taught me how eloquent people can be when given the chance. Everyone has a story. Every honest word has the potential to heal the writer and illuminate others. We do not have to see the fruits to keep planting seeds.

What do you most hope readers will take away from reading this book?

We are not alone. We are legion. Our hearts and perceptions do not lie. There is a collective muse that can lead us to the work we want to do, and in the end we will prevail.