Kuiper sits in a grove of blooming cherry trees.

Remembering Japanese Internment

1. Kuiper sits under the Japanese-American memorial cherry blossom trees in downtown Portland.
2. “Through the car window, A glimpse of pines, Oregon mountains. My heart beats faster, Returning home.”
3. “Sure, I go to school. Same as you. I’m an American.”

History is complicated. As discussed, FDR was responsible for the New Deal & WPA, but he was also responsible for one of the darkest periods in American history. On Feb 19th, 1942, 3 months after Pearl Harbor, FDR signed Executive Order 9066. This led to “evacuation” (i.e. imprisonment) of 70,000 native-born United States citizens from WA, OR and CA. Their crime? They were “Nissei”; their parents had been born in Japan.

47,000 “Issei” (Japanese-born legal residents) were also “relocated.” Curiously, although Hawaii had more Japanese people than the rest of the US combined (~158,000), only a few thousand were imprisoned. Hawaii concluded that removing over 1/3 of their population would be a logistical nightmare, and would have caused the local economy to implode. 🤔

“Voluntary evacuees” could only bring what they could carry. 💼 They were forced to abandon homes, businesses, farms, and yes, pets. The camps had guard towers, searchlights and barbed wire perimeters. Many internees slept in hastily-converted horse stalls. Famed photographer Dorothea Lange was assigned to document life in the camps. She was so incensed at what she saw that she worked 16 hr days for over 6 months. Her images were so striking that they were withheld from the public for several years. When the prisoners were finally released (some not until 1946), they were handed $25 per person ($319/2018) and train fare. Returning home was sometimes impossible; property had been sold for pennies on the $.

Curious how the Nissei and Issei were identified? The government used data from the 1940 Census. Due to this historical precedent, in my opinion we should probably be careful what information beyond headcount we decide to track in 2020. Besides, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution states that everyone should be counted, regardless of immigration status, race or national origin.

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bh1pkPYgY0k/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *