Week 10: Spring Break 

Week 11: March 21, 2017. The West at War: Homefront and the Pacific

March 23, 2017. Life in the Camps: Japanese America Incarcerated

whitehouseletter

Primary Sources 

Evacuation-Notice-for-Japanese-Internment

evacuation-notice-back-side

Evacuation instructions for Japanese Americans “relocated” or imprisoned in Tanforan.

Map of Japanese American Relocation and Evacuation Centers
Map of Japanese American Relocation and Evacuation Centers

General_douglas_macarthur_meets_american_indian_troops_wwii_military_pacific_navajo_pima_island_hopping

Eleanor Roosevelt at Gila River War Relocation Center, Arizona

World War II in the West & Pacific Gallery

Three children playing behind houses in Boyle Heights
Three children playing behind houses in Boyle Heights
Chavez Ravine residents confer with Councilman Roybal after eviction.
Chavez Ravine residents confer with Councilman Roybal after eviction.
Street scene of the Mexican American community Chavez Ravine, located near present day Elysian Park and Dodger Stadium.
Street scene of the Mexican American community Chavez Ravine, located near present day Elysian Park and Dodger Stadium.
Photo taken of Beatrice & George Valdez who was a medic in the army standing next to a building at Camp Beale in 1945; Camp Beale was activated on October 15, 1942; in 1945 Camp Beale was used to house German prisoners during World War II; Camp Beale is now called Beale Air Force Base (Calif.)
Photo taken of Beatrice & George Valdez who was a medic in the army standing next to a building at Camp Beale in 1945; Camp Beale was activated on October 15, 1942; in 1945 Camp Beale was used to house German prisoners during World War II; Camp Beale is now called Beale Air Force Base (Calif.)

7ce3ebdd5290d75600c302162786dd3b 29fc709d573748fc798b8d1f0f0b166b 323349b74b205f95e282bc5836303a28 b68bf033678f18a5e33be5de7ee905d3

Mexican workers await legal employment in the United States, Mexicali (Mexico)
Mexican workers await legal employment in the United States, Mexicali (Mexico)
Lapel buttons for Chinese Americans
Lapel buttons for Chinese Americans
High school boys look over Buchanan Street scene, prior to evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.--Photographer: Lange, Dorothea--San Francisco, California. 4/4/42
High school boys look over Buchanan Street scene, prior to evacuation of residents of Japanese ancestry. Evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration.–Photographer: Lange, Dorothea–San Francisco, California. 4/4/42
Signed in medium, bottom right corner: H. Sugimoto. Written on back, top left corner: "Goodbye My Son"; top left: 32 1/2" x 26"
Signed in medium, bottom right corner: H. Sugimoto. Written on back, top left corner: “Goodbye My Son”; top left: 32 1/2″ x 26″

d9c72d1892b225eac86eb2c44dff5a17 4_2_2_c 4_3_1_c-jpg 4_3_3_c-jpg 4_4_1_c-jpg 4_4_main_c-jpg 4_8_1_c-jpg 4_8_2_c-jpg 4_8_main_c-jpg 4_10_main_c-jpg 4_11_main_c-jpg 8eb1132834f53c3b34343e3eb1b119b9 370c6b45260f5d4a2ef5b95569d8ee6b 2000-35-3 2000-35-5 2004-1-18_edit 2006-20-1d_edit_0 a66-95-505_edit_0 a67-137-42015-1_edit_2 a67-137-42073-8 a67-137-42094-4 a67-137-94822_edit_0 d9c72d1892b225eac86eb2c44dff5a17 d920caf0eb47aaa4ef7cd02160ed49b1

Alice McGrath and Sleepy Lagoon defendants in Chino. 1944.
Alice McGrath and Sleepy Lagoon defendants in Chino. 1944.
Zoot suiter: drawing Delgado, Manuel, 1924-1999, Artist Date: 1943 or 1944
Zoot suiter: drawing
Delgado, Manuel, 1924-1999, Artist
Date: 1943 or 1944
Manuel and Peggy Delgado
Manuel and Peggy Delgado

 

 

Weekly Assignment 

The protagonist in Nisei Daughter continually grapples with her national identity versus her racial identity. Identify three of these moments in the text. What literary techniques does Sone use in her autobiography to convey this conflict to the reader? How does she situate this struggle in larger historical contexts?

 

Multimedia [Note some of these oral histories use the same opening frame sequence in their playlist, but when you click on them individually they are different].

Impact of the Alien Land Laws in California – Eiichi Edward Sakauye Oral History

Cherry Kinoshita – Oral History

Oral History – Fumiko Hayashida

Oral History – Tsuguo “Ike” Ikeda

Oral History – Kara Kondo

President Roosevelt Declares War

Rosie the Riveter Homefront Oral History Project

BBC History of WWII Hiroshima


BBC History of World War II Hiroshima [Higher quality available on Netflix] 

Want to learn more? Check out the following: 

  • Eduardo Obregon Pagan, Murder at the Sleepy Lagoon: Zoot Suits, Race, and Riot in Wartime L.A. (2003)
  • Brian Hayashi, Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment (2008)
  • May Sky: There is Always Tomorrow: An Anthology of Japanese American Concentration Camp Kaiko Haiku (Sun & Moon Classics)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Rhae Lynn Barnes is a member of the Society of Fellows at USC and Assistant Professor of American Cultural History at Princeton (beginning 2018). She earned her Ph.D. at Harvard University and B.A. at U.C. Berkeley. She is the co-founder of U.S. History Scene.
  • bennett shafer

    Attending Japanese school is one of the first clashes Sone uncovers in her book. I found her experience in Japanese school to properly capture her culture straddling. Mr. Ohashi’s strict enforcement of the rules, including proper posture at all times, painted an accurate picture of the cultural differences. Obedience is a key feature pushed into the minds of the kids. In the story, it is clear that Sone struggles with the rules and has a deep disgust of Japanese school. It is a small example, but it reflects her attitude toward Japanese culture in the great portion of the book. She takes the reader through her struggle and reluctance to adopt aspects of Japanese culture.

    The second passage I will address deals with the contradictions of being a Nisei. On page 120, Sone outlines the feelings among Japanese after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. In one moment, a few Nisei talk about how they must “halt the oil and stop the Japs!” They are speaking about the United States’ sending of oil to Japan. Later in the scene, some elders reply, “Who do these Nisei think they are? Don’t they realize they, too, have Japanese blood coursing through their veins?” It appears that the Nisei felt that they were Americans, but would later be treated as Japanese. This shows how racial identity was an important tool for the U.S. government to answer these distinctions.This is a recurring theme for the Nisei. Who are they? Americans, Japanese, or both? The chaos and fear of war coupled with made it nearly impossible to answer these questions. I find this scene to accurately depict the national vs. racial identity struggle.

    As the book goes on, the reactions by the U.S. government become even more confusing. For proper context, Nisei were rounded up and basically branded as enemies of the state. On page 198, Sone reveals the perplexities of the government when they ask Nisei men to participate in the war. It is almost as if the government is as confused with how to classify the Nisei as the Nisei are with identifying as American or Japanese. Many Nisei men decide to volunteer for the war efforts, and I think that it reflects the back and forth of patriotism they feel. They were just imprisoned in camps considered to be enemies and now they are going to risk their lives for the same country that did that to them? If this does not exemplify their devotion to America then I do not know what does. Furthermore, Nisei men joining the war effort highlights their desire to be American. Most of the book is told from a stance that suggests that Nisei are trying to prove that they are American. They are trying to prove to themselves and to others that they fit in with every other American.

    The book takes the reader through Sone’s discovery of identity. In line with the themes of war, the book reflects the constant battle that Sone has with her own identity and how she continually fought to carve her own life. It is important to recognize the small but powerful scenes she places in the book to highlight the teeter-tottering between two cultures. For instance, when her brother refuses to take his shoes off in the restaurant in Japan. The fact that she strategically places these scenes in her book can be interpreted as her internal struggle with the two cultures.

    Another important theme she touches on is what it means to be an American. With it being quite relevant to current politics, Sone challenges what it means to be American. What do you have to look like, act like, talk like? This is shown well throughout the book when people comment on her good English and her focus on her parents’ struggling English. I would suggest that Sone puts an emphasis on the different levels of English because it is seen as a gauge for how American you are. Do you have to speak perfect English to be considered American? I find that Sone discovers more positive experiences with her good English and uncovers the importance of language in identity. Also, language can act as huge barriers. The scene with Sone’s mom and the teacher gives a clear image as to how language can present difficulties.

    Given how the book fits into the larger historical context, important themes of race quickly surface. As the U.S. government admitted later on, the diverse war time atmosphere led the government to take racially motivated actions. Sone gives us an up-close look at the struggle many Japanese faced, and how they eventually created a new identity for themselves.

  • Linda Rose

    The first passage I chose to look at is at the very beginning
    of the narrative as Kazuko, age six, first becomes aware that she has “Japanese
    blood.” Sone uses an abundance of imagery to illustrate that, although she has always
    identified as an American she is immersed in a family that has at least one
    foot resting in Japanese culture. She describes her mother preparing “steaming slippery
    noodles and “fragrant pork broth” to be served with rice, tea and pickled
    vegetables. She also is able to show the mixture of cultures as she uses
    chopsticks to eat and yet drinks milk. She also uses a simile to describe Henry’s
    use of chopsticks as awkward as he was “trying to bring under control with his
    chopsticks the noodles swinging from his mouth like a pendulum” (3-5).

    Another passage where Kazuko struggles with her identity is
    when she is in the sanitarium. She again
    uses a simile to describe the realization that she was not quite as “American”
    as she believed as “discrepancies (that) came as tiny shocks to me” (139). She
    uses the vivid imagery of “blood red nail polish” and “violent purple lipstick”
    to show that she felt comfortable about her birth-country’s culture. However she
    then contrasts this with aspects of her personality that she feels betray her “Japanese
    blood.” In comparing the two Nisei
    patients with her other friends she observes that her politeness and quiet ways
    strongly resembled the Nisei girls.

    The third moment is from the end of the book. Kazuko again
    uses a simile to illustrate her thoughts and feelings. In describing how she
    has become more comfortable being a Nisei she tells her parents that she “used
    to feel like a two-headed monstrosity, but now I find that two heads are better
    than one” (236). This amazing imagery is so packed with descriptive language.
    The first part of the sentence reveals so much about the turmoil she felt in
    dealing with being of two distinct cultures. The second half shows that, not
    only has she learned to accept who she is, she has gained valuable insights
    into her country of birth and the cultural background passed down from her
    parents. She has been able to “blend” the two parts of how she and others perceive
    her and found herself “whole.”

  • Moises Cortes

    The first time that Kazuko realizes that she is of Japanese blood is when her mother tells her and her siblings that they ‘have Japanese blood.’ Like Kazuko said after making this discovery, she felt nothing inside. But she drinks from her glass milk then eats her food with chopsticks; two different identities.

    A different time in which she grapples with her identity is when they are in Japan, on their way to visit their grandfather in the country side. ‘On country roads, farm folks seemed to know instinctively that foreigners were approaching.’ (96) Leading up to the time that they go visit their grandfather, Kazuko and her siblings encounter cultural changes that they have, perhaps, never heard of nor done. Although Kazuko does not state it outright, her time in Japan feels as though she really is a foreigner, while looking like her relatives and people living in Japan.

    A third instance is when the news has spread that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Right after her brother says ‘Doesn’t my citizenship mean a single blessed thing to anyone?,’ Kazuko responds, most likely mentally, in frustration. ‘Once more I felt like a despised, pathetic two headed freak, a Japanese and an American, neither of which seemed to be doing me any good.’(158) Her use of the term ‘two headed freak’ implies that both her identities are trying to survive, but neither is wanted. Neither at home in the US nor in her blood country, Japan. Her brother most likely felt the same way. The hundreds of thousands of Japanese in the US probably felt this way as we. Two identities in which they, from my knowledge, associated more with being an American. But even their birth citizenship means nothing.

  • Paul Delio

    One of my favorite moments in the book when nation identity and racial identity conflict is the Itoi New Years Eve. The family is deciding what meal to eat for the holiday. The original option is to make the traditional Japanese holiday meal of buckwheat noodles. This idea is eventually rejected by the family and they decide to eat apple pie instead. Another example is when the Itoi parents inform their children that they will have to attend Japanese school after regular school. Kazuko protests this statement saying she does not want to learn about being Japanese because she sees herself as American. I think these two instances are telling of Kazuko’s racial crisis. This is exemplary of what many other Japanese Americans faced during World War II. Much like Kazuko and the Itoi family, Japanese Americans saw themselves as american and struggled with life after the Pearl Harbor attack.

  • Kyra Schoonover

    One of the moments in which Kazuko grapples with her dual identities occurs when she realizes for the first time that her family is Japanese. She explains how she struggled to understand being both American and Japanese, seeing it as “like being born with two heads”. Her initial perception of herself as a “Yankee” is clearly colored by her upbringing in America, although her family’s ethnic culture still surrounds her.

    A second example of Kazuko’s national and racial identity coming into conflict occurs when she is discussing her experiences at the hotel. She notes how Mrs. Matsui has tried to mold her into a “ojoh-san”, the Japanese term for a refined young woman. According to Kazuko, being an ojoh-san was impractical with her current life. She could not practice her bows to hotel patrons, or as she puts it, sit quietly in a parlor and contemplate flowers as her cousins in Osaka might do. Life in America demanded a different set of behaviors than that of the traditional Japanese woman.

    A third instance is at the end when the book comes full circle. Kazuko finally realizes that being both American and Japanese is a blessing, not a curse. In a literary reference to one of the first moments of the book, she proclaims that “two heads are better than one”, which shows that she has come to accept her Nisei heritage and the unique perspective of being a second generation American. Although the book does illuminate Kazuko’s struggles as a Nisei, it ultimately shows how her life is enriched by having both Japanese and American cultures, despite her hardships.

  • Krystal Cervantes

    The first passage I would like to look at is when after Kazuko and her siblings were told they were Japanese they were also told they would have to attend Japanese school after their regular school hours. Kazuko became very upset and I feel that this was her first big struggle with the widening of her identity. She exclaimed that becoming Japanese meant losing her freedom to play and hated that her blood was intruding in her regular practices. Her perceptions of what it means to be Japanese and the clash between her “freedom” as an American child is distinctive. This is also a vital introduction into perceptions on the lives of Japanese children.Later, Kazuko compares being Japanese and a Yankee like being born with two heads because she could not understand how one could be both. This moment in her life is extremely important because it’s the beginning of the clash between her “Yankee” self and her Japanese self.
    Although there are several scenes, the last I will discuss is when she had decided that she wanted to take dancing lessons. Dancing within Japanese culture and American culture were two highly distinctive practices that took on different meanings. Her father had his own perceptions on being a dancer and she had her own ideas of what it meant to be a dancer, or Geisha, in Japan and had a skewed thought process concerning kimonos. Cultural practices clashed both in her mind and in her home like I am sure was extremely common among first generation born children of any migrant family, including Japanese. Her growth as a young girl and into womanhood was quite exemplary and her coming to terms with her dual heritage proves that even if the journey is tumultuous it can be beneficial in the end.