Korematsu, Travel Bans, and Resisting History’s “Gravely Wrong” Injustices as They Happen

On February 19, 1942, the White House issued Executive Order 9066 which led to the forcible detention, removal, and incarceration (see JACL’s Power of Words) of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese American citizens in hastily-erected detention centers and concentration camps. Assumed (without evidence) to be Japanese spies, Japanese American men, women, and children were imprisoned without due process behind barbed wire fences. There, entire families were crammed into single-room shacks and held at gunpoint in some of America’s bleakest and most desolate landscapes for over four years.

Fred Korematsu was one of a handful of Japanese Americans who courageously defied Executive Order 9066. Refusing to obey the order that he join other Japanese Americans in reporting for forcible relocation, Korematsu instead went on the run. When he was eventually arrested and charged with refusing the military’s relocation order, Korematsu challenged the constitutionality of Japanese American incarceration. That case – Korematsu v. United States – was found against Fred Korematsu, and it would go on to become a landmark Supreme Court decision; moreover, it would be one decision that most legal scholars now agree was decided in error.

Indeed, earlier this month, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a rare rebuke of its 1944 decision against Korematsu. In the Trump v. Hawaii majority decision, Chief Justice John Roberts said that “Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided,” and invoked the dissent penned by Justice Robert Jackson wherein he described Japanese American incarceration as having “no place in law under the Constitu­tion.”

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Reappropriate Reads: Week of June 29, 2018

By Reappropriate Intern: V. Huynh

What it means to be seen as a queer Asian American

“Everywhere I turn – nightlife, zines, Instagram, my local coffee shop – I see queer Asians flaunting their attitude, their platform heels, and a smoldering, IDGAF look that inspires me to be louder, prouder, and fearless.

But when I leave my New York City bubble, it’s a different story.”

In ‘Soft Power,’ David Henry Hwang flips the ‘East meets West’ trope

Inspired by the 2015 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” Tony winner David Henry Hwang has set out to flip that trope through a new work: Instead of a Western visitor teaching the King of Siam how to govern his own country, what if the main character came from Asia and saw the United States as a strange and barbaric land to be civilized?

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Ours is a History of Resistance

Asian American protesters at an anti-war march in 1972. (Photo credit: Asian Pacific American Photographic Collection, Visual Communications Archive via LA Times)

By: Karin Wang (@naragirl), Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Since we launched “Write Back, Fight Back” two months ago, we have witnessed the power of words to name our struggles, reclaim our identities, and voice our power. We close out our series by centering the story of Asian immigrants challenging racism through the courts and in many cases, winning and changing the course of American history.

No current narrative of Asian Americans is more closely tied to white supremacy and historic white nativist policies than the model minority myth. First coined and promulgated in the mid-1960s by white Americans, the term referred to Japanese and Chinese Americans, focusing obsessively on their seeming success in the face of discrimination. The model minority myth gets denounced on a regular basis lately, and many journalists, writers, and activists have analyzed and challenged the economic and class implications of the myth and the damage it does less privileged Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

But there’s another insidious side to the model minority myth that needs the same unpacking and deconstructing:  the narrative of the quiet and obedient Asian – the one who works twice as hard and neither complains nor challenges authority. The myth was born at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, deliberately juxtaposing Asians against other racial minorities. It’s an image used not only to keep Asian Americans in their place but one that upholds white supremacy.

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The Trauma of Childhood Separation: Reflections of a Korean American Adoptee

A Honduran child plays at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center after recently crossing the U.S., Mexico border with his father on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/Spencer Platt)

By Guest Contributor: Mia Ives-Rublee (@SeeMiaRoll)

The cries of children echo in my head after listening to the ProPublica recording of children crying at a detention center. It reminds me of my own experiences as a young child.

I was adopted at the age of three from South Korea. My biological family left me at an orphanage when I was a few days old and I lived at an orphanage for almost a year before going to a foster home.

I spent almost a year with my foster family and had grown attached to my foster mother. It was extremely traumatic for me to leave my foster family. At the time, I was too young to know what was going on. All I knew was that my foster mother was not near me and that I was in a strange environment.

I remember spending many nights literally crying in terror and my adoptive mother trying to sooth me. This happened for several years after my adoption.

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Reappropriate Reads: Week of June 22, 2018

By Reappropriate Summer Intern: V. Huynh

These Tiny Desk Contestants Set Stories of The Asian-American Experience To Music
“Entrants Julian Saporiti and Erin Aoyama, two doctoral students in American Studies at Brown University, create songs that illuminate the Asian-American experience in their multimedia project No-No Boy. The pair’s Tiny Desk Contest submission “Two Candles In The Dark” tells the story of Aoyama’s grandmother who was incarcerated in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.”

‘At Least During the Internment …’ Are Words I Thought I’d Never Utter

“And yet, in one core, horrifying way this is worse. At least during the internment of Japanese-Americans, I and other children were not stripped from our parents. We were not pulled screaming from our mothers’ arms. We were not left to change the diapers of younger children by ourselves.”

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