In an op-ed for The Washington Post this week, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang urged Asian Americans to combat a recent surge in anti-Asian hate by “embrac[ing] and show[ing] our American-ness in ways we never have before.” He praised Japanese Americans who volunteered for military service from WWII concentration camps “to demonstrate that they were Americans” — conveniently ignoring the state violence that narrowed their choices, and erasing those who were enlisted against their will — and concludes that Asian Americans who face racism today should likewise “show without a shadow of a doubt that we are Americans who will do our part for our country in this time of need.”
On March 27th, Japanese Americans across the country are joining frontline communities in urging Washington State Governor Jay Inslee to immediately release all immigrants from the Northwest Detention Center to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We know that health and safety are impossible to guarantee inside detention, because our families faced epidemics and medical neglect during WWII incarceration. Together, we say “STOP REPEATING HISTORY,” close the camps, and keep everyone, including immigrants, safe during this pandemic.
On February 27, 1942, the Seattle School Board accepted the forced resignations of 27 Nisei women working as clerks for the school district. Four decades later, those women fought for, and won, a resolution to apologize and compensate them for their wartime dismissal. It was a small but powerful early victory for the Japanese American redress movement — and an indication of more to come.
The name Miller Freeman has been in the news this past week after a Day of Remembrance installation at Bellevue College by artist Erin Shigaki was defaced by a school administrator. Shigaki’s art installation, “Never Again Is Now,” depicts two Japanese American children in a WWII concentration camp, and an accompanying artist statement described the impact and ongoing legacy of Japanese American incarceration.
Despite torrential rains in Tacoma this weekend, Tsuru for Solidarity supporters showed up in droves to raise their voices in opposition to immigrant detention. They gathered outside the Northwest Detention Center, where up to 1,500 individuals at a time are held as they await the outcomes of their immigration trials. Sometimes that wait last years in this for-profit facility where detainees have staged hunger strikes to protest the poor quality of medical care and food and inadequate access to legal support.
We’re gearing up for our Day of Remembrance, Day of Action at Northwest Detention Center on February 23rd, and we hope to see you there! This event commemorates the 78th anniversary of the Executive Order that incarcerated 120,000 citizens and immigrants of Japanese descent during WWII. We believe the best way to honor that history is by fighting to end detention sites today, which is why we’re partnering with Tsuru For Solidarity, La Resistencia, and Seattle JACL to say #StopRepeatingHistory and #ShutDownNWDC!
The exclusion of Japanese Americans from the West Coast during WWII came to an official end on January 2, 1945. By the end of the year, nine of the ten War Relocation Authority concentration camps had been shut down — although Japanese American “renunciants” and Japanese Latin Americans slated for deportation to Japan remained imprisoned even after the war’s end. On the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the end of Japanese American incarceration, we take a look back at some of the images from this moment in history.
As one of Densho’s 2019 artists-in-residence, Mari Shibuya recently completed a mural that visualizes the histories of three Pacific Northwest Japanese American families. In this guest blog post, she reflects on her artistic process, what she learned about what it means to be Japanese American, and why this history remains so important today.
As we witness everyday reminders that “Never Again” is right now, it’s become clear that stories of Japanese American WWII incarceration matter today more than ever. Last year we launched an artist-in-residence program that allowed us to collaborate with some amazing artists to spread that message far and wide. We continued that program in 2019, and we’re excited to share a look at the incredible work this year’s artists have created.
The Colorado River “Relocation Center”—more commonly referred to as Poston—was located in the Arizona desert a few miles from the California border. The largest and most populous of the War Relocation Authority (WRA) administered concentration camps (with the exception of post-segregation Tule Lake) with a peak population of nearly 18,000, Poston was unique among WRA camps in a number of ways.
- after camp
- book review
- camp life
- current events
- Densho statement
- film review
- hidden histories
- In memoriam
- open letter
- oral history
- Pacific Northwest
- photo essay
- popular culture