HIEA 114 Post 2

Reread Cooke’s “Letter on a Plague Year” with one of the Japan-related readings assigned in this course (of your choice). Has your reading of Cooke’s piece changed now that you are re-reading it in week 10? How has thinking with your classmates about mutual aid and solidarity in Japan, in the middle of a pandemic, been like? What additional conversations would have been helpful in this moment?

While rereading Cooke’s “Letter on a Plague Year”, I chose to read the Japan-related reading assigned in the course by Mark Caprio called “The Forging of Alien Status of Koreans in American Occupied Japan”. I believe that my reading of Cooke’s piece after re-reading it has not changed that much. There are still many things that feel similar or the same due to forms of mutual aid being very similar and how people usually act in a certain way. I believe that it may not have changed the way I read it now but it definitely has enhanced some of the details due to being able to learn more about different types of mutual aid and exactly how it has gone for different groups, although again most mutual aid is similar in how they function.

The main goal of most mutual aid is also almost always the same. The main goal is usually to provide in a community to each other what external larger factors such as government or society could not provide to those communities. Therefore, the communities will come together and support each other in their times of need. In the example of “The Forging of Alien Status of Koreans in American Occupied Japan,” the Koreans were being treated extremely unfairly by both the Japanese government and Japanese society. They were not treated the same as Japanese citizens in society. Therefore, the only way was for the Koreans to come together along with other immigrants and formed a black market. These black markets allowed them to have a place in which they felt a sense of belonging. Due to the fact that society nor the government wanted to help them, these black markets were formed as a form of mutual aid in order for the community to help themselves.

I believe that thinking with classmates about mutual aid and solidarity in the middle of the pandemic has been an eye-opening experience. All these forms of mutual aid we have discussed can be seen in many different communities in the United States during COVID. Especially since the pandemic has amplified all of the problems with society and the government, and with tensions high forcing communities to come together to do something about it.

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