My name is Sean Yokota. I am a third generation Japanese American, born and raised in San Francisco. I rebelled against the “model minority” stereotype in my mid-teens by running with an older tougher crowd. I soon became enamored with the criminal lifestyle and quickly adopted many of the habits and social norms that go with it.
I got arrested at the age of 19 and subsequently fought my case for the next two and a half years. Once I resolved my case, I left the Bay Area to get away from my old life and obtain a degree in business. But the allure of the streets pulled me back and I find myself incarcerated yet again.
I first heard of Kingian Nonviolence the day that East Point Peace Academy ran a two-day course in the dorm that I was housed in. Before the workshop began, I thought, “here comes some hippy people trying to preach some kumbaya, peace and love crap.”
It was much more entertaining and informative than I was expecting. I had always thought of Dr. King as a historical figure, someone who should obviously be lauded for all that he accomplished for civil rights, but not someone whose philosophy had any direct impact on my life. After the workshop, I came to realize that his philosophy of nonviolence still has relevance in today’s society.
One thing I have learned throughout the course of the training is the complexity there is to such a seemingly simple concept. On the surface, the concept of nonviolence seems pretty simple, but upon deeper examination, I have learned about the different types and levels of conflict, the principles of nonviolence, the steps of how to apply it and more. I’ve come to realize how difficult it is for nonviolence to become a way of life, and yet how necessary it is to create a more just world.
Through these trainings, I hope to gain a greater ability to resolve conflicts in my life and to incorporate these teachings into my daily life. I hope to inspire some of my fellow inmates to go through the training.
This philosophy can help many people in my community, to provide an alternative to all the lessons of hatred and violence that are unfortunately taught to many of us.
Violence – and therefore nonviolence – is a cause that touches everyone. We all encounter conflicts in our daily lives, and the ability to resolve them nonviolently is essential because we know that violence begets violence. Nonviolence is needed to break this cycle.
By supporting East Point, you have the ability to impact so many lives. Besides giving people a nonviolent alterative to resolve conflicts, you are empowering communities. Giving them a framework to combat social injustices like poverty or discrimination.
Too often in the news, you see violent protests that dissolve into riots that ultimately end up changing nothing. Kingian Nonviolence gives a blueprint for a nonviolent movement that is informed about the issues, who can articulate their demands and are willing to negotiate. The transformative potential is incalculable.