Empowering New York’s Asian American Community Since 1989

Suki Terada Ports'S
New York City

“Hearing Suki’s stories felt like a trip down memory lane. It’s New York but with so many traces of history and family struggle in every nook and cranny. This inspired me to translate them visually like a heavily congested road of nostalgia, starting from the stairs of Morningside Park and leading up all the way toward the sunset.”

—Kezia Gabriella, Illustrator

Get Suki's poster as a gift with a donation to Hope Against Hate. Digital downloads start at $25 and printed posters start at $150. All contributions, regardless of amount, fund critical programs that keep Asian Americans safe in New York City and beyond.

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About Suki Terada Ports

At age 86, Suki Terada Ports has long been an esteemed statesperson in her neighborhood and an activist for the larger diverse—and AAPI—community. She grew up as a Japanese American in Harlem, New York right at the peak of Japanese racism during World War II. This experience has left her with a wealth of fascinating stories and a unique perspective on her cultural and ethnic identity.

WHERE AM I REALLY FROM?

“New York. Do you want the apartment number? I’ve lived in the same neighborhood for 86 years. People can’t believe that, with the face I have, New York is where I’m really from.”

—Suki Terada Ports

Quaker Camp

“When my sister and I were eight and twelve years old, we went to a Quaker summer camp in Pennsylvania. The Quakers were the only people in the US who took care of Japanese Americans at that time. And on parents’ visiting day at camp, everybody’s parents came except ours. Years later, my mother said, ‘We would have visited you, but the FBI wouldn’t let me leave Manhattan.’ That was when I learned my mother had been under house arrest during all of World War II.”

Dinner with Soldiers

“The only time we had Japanese Americans come into our house was when the 100th and 442nd battalion soldiers came through New York. One of the cousins in the battalion called my mother and said, ‘Auntie, will you cook rice for us before we go to fight in Europe?’ Well, she didn’t expect 20 guys to come clomping into the apartment. Of course they took off their boots, but 20 guys each having two or three bowls of rice…my mother realized she didn’t know how to make 60 cups of rice.”

Kimono

“When I was in college in Massachusetts, they had something called International Students Day. And people would say to me, ‘Suki, go back to the dorm and get your costume on.’ That was the only day all year people would point out to me that I was inappropriately dressed. That I should get my real outfit on. Do I have to go back to New York and borrow my mother’s kimono, or what?”

Public Education

“Public low- and middle-income coop housing facilities were being built in our neighborhood. The builders asked the local university if they could buy one of their buildings to convert it into a public school—the one my children would be zoned to attend. I visited it and was horrified at the overcrowded two-session school. So when I was appointed to the local school board, we were able to design an early childhood school based on the best school systems in the US. Our public school was the first early childhood school of its kind in New York City.”

Protest in the Park

“The community rejected a project proposed by the local university to use our public land to build a gymnasium in Morningside Park. At the final hearing on the use of this public land, I along with a small group sat in front of a bulldozer protesting the build. We got arrested and over time students began to join us in protest. Eventually the university relented and abandoned their plans. Today, that space in Morningside Park is a beautiful community area for everyone to enjoy. There’s a waterfall that empties into a lovely pond where birds swim, seasonal flowers and a weeping willow tree.”

Cross-Country Train

“My parents grew up on the West Coast and took the train to New York. At the time, there was a professor of Japanese ancestry at Columbia who invited Japanese students to his home for the holidays. And in those days, you didn’t take a plane across the country just for the holidays. So they both went by train. And that’s how my parents met, at his house.”

MEET THE ARTIST

Kezia Gabriella

Kezia Gabriella is a Dutch, Chinese, and Indonesian illustrator based in Singapore. Her vibrant, detailed compositions evoke a distinct sense of nostalgia and history perfect for representing Suki’s layered story.

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Combat AAPI hate with a donation to Hope Against Hate today, and get a limited-edition travel poster. Digital downloads start at $25 and printed posters start at $150. All contributions, regardless of amount, fund critical programs that keep Asian Americans safe in New York City and beyond.
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