During the height of World War II, over a hundred thousand Japanese Americans were forcibly incarcerated in American concentration camps (see JACL’s “Power of Words” handbook) on the basis of their race alone. Removed to some of the harshest and most isolated regions of the continental United States and Hawaii, incarcerees — most of them United States citizens — were housed in makeshift huts behind barbed wire fences under the constant watch of armed guards.
The incarceration was politically popular, particularly among the West Coast’s White farmers who stood to gain (through short sale, or outright theft) the land and property Japanese American were forced to leave behind following the federal government’s removal order. However, at the time, few non-Japanese American citizens were also aware of the deplorable conditions of the camps that Japanese Americans were forced to endure over the course of this incarceration.
History documents the occasional artist or advocate who ventured to the camps, and — horrified by what they found — tried to bring to light the story of this American injustice.