From the Archive
Incalculable Losses: Japanese American Financial Damages
"I got a thousand dollars for things that I lost, but that is such a small amount for the loss that I had, because I lost everything."
-- Peggie Nishimura Bain
In these times of economic woes, we stop to reflect on how much better Japanese Americans would fare in a recession if their families had not suffered such severe economic losses during World War II. While former detainees succeeded remarkably well at gaining financial security, despite the years of setbacks, stories in Densho's archives raise example after example of potential fortunes lost. Prosperous malls, condos, and suburban developments stand on land once farmed by Japanese Americans. Densho narrators ruefully remind us of how the property changed hands.
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Densho Poll: Focusing on Education
This month's Densho survey invites you to share your education priorities and suggestions. In past focus groups and casual conversations, supporters have told us that beyond preserving life stories of Japanese Americans, Densho should reach out and educate the public about the injustices they endured during World War II. Education has always been at the core of our work. This year we are evaluating the social studies lessons we've created. We recruited a dozen elementary, middle, and high school teachers from eight Washington school districts to teach and assess three social studies curriculum units: on constitutional issues, immigration conflicts, and media analysis. The feedback and student work they submit at the end of this school year will help us improve the Densho civil liberties curriculum for future classroom use.
Here are the results for the March poll on favorite Japanese American actors:
"Paving the Way"
1. Pat Morita
3 Jack Soo
1. George Takei
2. Tamlyn Tomita
3. James Shigeta
1. Masi Oka
2. Suzy Nakamura
3. Christine Toy Johnson
A characteristic response to the question as to whether Asian American actors have escaped stereotyping is this: "Racial stereotypes in the entertainment industry die hard. The women are still cast as exotic sex objects and the men are nerdy brainiacs." We hope the younger generation of Japanese American actors will see a richer choice of roles.
>> Take the education survey
New to the Archive
Look inside the Archive: A Traumatic Memory
This month's sample of the Densho Digital Archive is excerpted from a recent interview with Aya Uenishi Medrud. Raised in Seattle, Aya relocated to Utica, New York, after being released from the Minidoka incarceration center. She worked in Japan for the U.S. Army of Occupation, and for the Tokyo General Army Hospital during the Korean War. As a Quaker and pacifist, Aya now does community work with civic organizations in Boulder, Colorado. In the clip featured on the "About the Archive" webpage, Aya describes a traumatic episode she experienced after visiting wounded Nisei soldiers.
>> See the featured sample from the Densho Digital Archive
>> Register for the free Densho Digital Archive
National News and Events
"Outside Inside" Lectures at University of Oregon
The University of Oregon, Eugene, will present the Joel Yamauchi Lecture Series "Outside Inside." Four talks will examine the legal, social, and cultural implications of the Japanese American incarceration in the Pacific Northwest. Lecture dates are April 8, April 15, May 6, and June 3. The speakers are Tetsuden Kashima, Professor of American Ethnic Studies, University of Washington; Peggy Nagae, lead attorney in Yasui v. United States; three Nisei alumni of the University of Oregon and a 442nd veteran; and Wendy Janssen, National Park Service Superintendent, Minidoka National Historic Site. The events are free and members of the general public are welcome.
>> Read more about the lectures
Founding Event: Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality
On Saturday, April 18, Seattle University School of Law will host an all-day conference, "Looking Back, Reaching Forward," to celebrate the founding of its new Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality. The center advocates for social equity of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, disability, age, and religion. Participants in the event will include members of the Korematsu family and the legal teams for the Korematsu, Hirabayashi, and Yasui coram nobis cases. The sessions will look back on the historic struggle for equality, focusing on the World War II Japanese American incarceration cases, and will bring together advocacy groups and academics to forge partnerships in pursuit of equality. Reservations are required; please respond by April 8.
>> Read more and make a reservation