Featuring Janine Shiota

I am just a person, whose color comes from my collective life experiences.

About Janine

Janine Shiota has a varied background in theater arts, production, fundraising, community outreach, real estate and hospitality. She currently serves as a commissioner for the San Francisco Arts Commission and is a founding board member of ArtCare. She lives in San Francisco with her handsome hubby, continues to work on a script called Legacy and hopes to finish it…one day…soon…really. After she gets home from work, she picks up her four-legged child from doggy day care and does another load of laundry. She is beyond thrilled to be included in this anthology.

We had the opportunity to interview author Janine Shiota, whose essay "AWOL WOC" appears in All the Women in My Family Sing. This is what we learned...

What inspired you to create this anthology?

The realization that I had always rejected my gender and race as a marker of identification.

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

I think one of the biggest challenges was the idea of being “woke”.  I was lulled by the Obama years and ethos.  I thought his election was a promise of evolved change in perpetuity.  The subsequent backlash and election made me realize that there is racism, misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia.  I think I had denied or minimized how strong that tide ran in the country.

What is your perception of women’s roles in today's social justice movement?

Women are nurturers by nature.  We birth life by biology.  I think broadly generalizing that women approach things from a different lens and that as they run for more political offices and community leadership roles which is happening in droves (a good result of the current political landscape is the activism it is inspiring) women will change various approaches to education, criminal justice, economic development, civic and community development.

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

I am fortunate and often take for granted the very liberal and inclusive city that I am lucky to live in.  There are opportunities here because of its true diversity initiatives that in retrospect, may not have happened elsewhere or were not possible really possible as an open door even in the not so recent past in San Francisco.

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

Identity politics can be fraught and I do believe that seeing the world through any single lens can lead to an extremism of thought and action.  My hope is that as a society we can create the same framework  this book has.  A place where each voice sounds a unique, individual, and beautiful note, that weaves into a powerful chorus, a tidal song, a clear bell of safe harbor on a long dark night.