Sunday, February 19, 2017

Executive Order 9066

Today marks 75 years since Executive Order 9066 was issued.

This is a picture of my family.  

All but my grandmother were American born.  Everybody hear was interned, including my 10 year old dad.  They lost their business and home, and were separated into different camps. When your own country does this to you, it impacts the rest of your life.

Growing up, I heard very little about the internment.  They talked about the barbed wire that kept them in.  They talked about how polite all the Japanese Americans were.  My dad remembers having to sleep in a horse stable.  And...that's kind of it.

My dad is quiet, serious, a worrier who internalizes his worrying.  Stoic.  Outwardly unexpressive.  He's kind of the stereotype of what you'd consider a traditional old Japanese man to be.  What I find interesting, however, is that he told my mom (who then told me) how he used to be less serious and less of a worrier before internment.  He was...a kid.  In many ways, his childhood ended at 10, when he was imprisoned by his country.

I always jokingly say that only my face and my name are Japanese, since I identify so strongly with being American.  I am eating a cheeseburger as I type this, and I'm watching Cars :)  I'm also, apparently, an 8 year old.  Growing up, I was not aware of people treating me any differently because of my ethnicity (they probably did, here and there, and I just didn't realize it...), and even now, when I'm confronted with overt racism with negative intentions, my first reaction is confusion.

But if Japanese internment were to happen again today, I would be interned.  It doesn't matter that I was born in California.  It doesn't matter that I can't speak, read, or write any Japanese.  It doesn't matter that I will always choose the cheeseburger over sushi :D  (I really love cheeseburgers, you guys.)

This seems, unfortunately, like a much more important subject to broach at this time of history.  

Yes, bad things happen from time to time.  But staying open to the good means that sometimes you're going to let bad things in.  I suppose it's just a matter of understanding that the good will outweigh the bad.

I have a food analogy, of course.

Chipotle accidentally poisoned a bunch of people, right?  Yet, we did not close down and ban all restaurants.  We didn't close and ban all "Mexican" restaurants!  (is that what chipotle is?)  We...didn't even permanently close Chipotle!  Most people forgave Chipotle and went back!  And yes, there are some people who reacted with, "Uh, I'm gonna pass on the Chipotle, thanks."  But they're not trying to shut down all restaurants.

This is the best analogy I can think of right now.  I also have a fever, so that might be fever talk.