(H/T: Hyphen Magazine)
From, the awesome 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors:
A Japanese American woman, now a grandmother, was interned at Tule Lake during WWII. Recently, on Reddit, she was featured on their “I Am A…” schedule. For hours, she answered user-submitted questions, which were translated and typed up by the woman’s daughter and granddaughter.
Through the course of the interview, the granddaughter learned that her grandmother was a “no-no boy”, having answered ‘no’ to two loyalty questions distributed to internees a year prior to the end of internment. Those questions were:
Having been born a United States citizen, the IAmA internee featured on Reddit spent a great deal of time agonizing over her answers before choosing to answer “no”. In so doing, she renounced her American citizenship and became statesless; after internment, she eventually regained her citizenship. She writes (with her granddaughter adding comments in the brackets):
We renounced our citizenship about a year before we left [the internment camps] to stay with our parents. One of the questions was “Did we have any loyalty to the Japanese Emperor?”. Many people didn’t like that question. We were born in America. Why would we have any loyalty to the Japanese Emperor?
(She’s referring to the loyalty questions. She didn’t talk about it this time, but she usually tells me that after the questionare came out, they had meetings every night to try to figure out what to answer. At the time there were rumors going around that everyone would be shipped back to Japan. If they said they weren’t loyal, they would be alienated in Japan (as well as the United States). If they answered yes, she would probably be able to stick with her parents.)
I also learned through this post about the internment camp stockades, basically a jail built to hold unruly interns. It’s described here:
She didn’t know much about them at all. I personally had never heard of it until I went to the pilgrimage. I was like 14 at the time so I don’t remember much, but here’s what I do remember. I remember that it was built to only hold somewhere around 30 people and something like 100 people ended up there. It was built using really nice concrete, so it’s the only building that remains standing. Someone was really nice and donated a cover that was built over it so it would be preserved. We got to go inside and it was really dark and creepy and there were poems on the wall (and graffiti from taggers). It’s not surprising though. If people would go through and dig up a cemetery, graffiti on a wall is nothing.
The full feature is quite fascinating. This link contains the cleaned up version of both questions and answers (minus Reddit user comments).
While we’re on the topic, check out the website for Allegiance, an upcoming musical starring George Takei and the incredible, incredible Lea Salonga, which follows a story set in Japanese American internment camps. The show opens at the Old Globe in San Diego Sept 7-19.
With all the buzz surrounding K-Town on the blogosphere, Jen over at Disagrasian warns us to tone down the joking. And she’s right — this is serious, folks. Jen warns that K-Town could invoke a new, very harmful, stereotype against Asian Men…
I applaud Jen for being vigilant in this matter. As she describes in her post, the consequences of this stereotype to hard-working, honest Asian American men is profound. We could be talking about scores of Asian men turned away by employers who require shirts be worn every day of the week — even Casual Friday! Thousands of Asian men might find themselves applying for jobs in fields where they won’t be unfairly penalized due to the anti-shirt stereotype. Do we really want our Asian brothers forced to work as strippers, cabana boys, and life guards?
Think about the self-hate and shame that will be invoked amongst decent, well-meaning Asian men when they hear phrases like, “Hey, dude, chill out! Keep your shirt on!” or “What are you, a nudist who lacks commitment?” Think of the pain Asian men will have to endure when they become targeted by new racial slurs, like “shirt-hater”, “Chippendale”, or “nipple-flasher”. And will Asian men who take their shirts off — even while performing reasonably no-shirt activities like swimming or taking a shower — be accused of being sellouts for perpetuating the shirt-hating stereotype?
But, I do disagree with Jen on one thing: let’s put the blame where it belongs. The “shirt allergy” stereotype against Asian men did not begin with Peter Le, Young Lee or Joe Cha. No, these boys are mere symptoms of an institutional stereotype that just hasn’t received sufficient media attention until now, when K-Town finally exposed the stereotype’s full impact on our Asian brothers. These poor souls are only acting as they think they’re supposed to, because the “Asian men hate shirts” stereotype has been so deeply internalized into their self-identity. In a way, these men are heroes, for bravely shedding light on a silent oppression.
Consider how many other innocent Asian men have fallen victim to this syndrome:
So, you ask — whom should we really be blaming?
Well, I think the answer is clear — the blame lies squarely on the man who first brought this dastardly stereotype to American audiences.
That’s right: Bruce. Effin’. Lee. That frickin’ nipple-flasher.
Act Now! I’m declaring August 1st to be National Asian Male Shirt Solidarity Day. Wear a shirt and show your support. Spread the word.