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← Racism and america’s concentration camps | Mas Hashimoto | TEDxMeritAcademy

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Showing Revision 12 created 01/17/2020 by Leonardo Silva.

  1. How many of you are familiar
    with the Japanese-American incarceration?
  2. Oh! Thank you, and good night.
  3. (Laughter)
  4. You guys are wonderful.
  5. I was a prisoner of war,
  6. during World War II,
  7. held by my own country.
  8. I was six years old.
  9. This is my prison number:
  10. 125 -
  11. 12524.
  12. I'm the letter D.
  13. My family had 12524.
  14. My family and I were incarcerated
    for three and a half years,
  15. in Poston, Arizona,
  16. during World War II.
  17. As a teacher, I would ask my students,
  18. sometimes on the first day of school:
  19. "Draw an American for me.
  20. Okay? Take out a piece of paper,
    and draw an American for me.
  21. Okay?"
  22. And then I would go around the room
    and check the drawings,
  23. and sometimes the drawings
    would be of a stick figure,
  24. not much better than kindergarten.
  25. Excuse me, Marsha.
  26. Marsha is a kindergarten teacher, my wife.
  27. (Laughter)
  28. Draw an American for me.
    You get somebody in mind?
  29. Hmm?
  30. How many of you
    thought of drawing a woman?
  31. Thank you.
  32. A majority of Americans are women.
  33. Who says it's a man's world?
  34. Men!
  35. Women can do everything
    a man can do, and more.
  36. How many of you thought of drawing
    a blonde, blue-eyed, hunk of a guy?
  37. Hitler would have been so proud of you.
  38. To many Americans, WASP is the American:
    White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.
  39. If you're not White,
    Anglo-Saxon Protestant,
  40. you're not really an American.
  41. You know, I'm not Japanese.
  42. I've never been Japanese.
  43. I'm an American, of Japanese ancestry.
  44. My father was Japanese, my mother was
    Japanese, but I'm not Japanese.
  45. When I go to Japan, and I speak,
  46. they laugh and they go:
    "We don't talk like that anymore."
  47. They know I'm a gaijin, a foreigner.
  48. When I was in London, shopping,
  49. and I had a nice conversation
    with the sales lady,
  50. and at the end she says:
    "Oh, you Yanks."
  51. She's looking at me, and I'm a Yank.
  52. But in this country,
    in parts of this country,
  53. I'm a damned Jap.
  54. And I don't mean just the South.
  55. There are parts of Idaho,
    Montana, North Dakota and such.
  56. It's kind of dangerous for me to travel.
  57. Racism still prevails in this country.
  58. After 9/11, the attack
    on the twin towers in New York,
  59. there was talk about rounding up
  60. all the Arabs and Muslim
    Americans in this country,
  61. and incarcerating them
    in concentration camps.
  62. Now to his credit,
    George W. Bush, the president,
  63. he called a Cabinet meeting,
  64. and he told his Cabinet members:
  65. "We're not going to do to the Arab
    and Muslim Americans in this country
  66. what we did to Norm Mineta
    and his family."
  67. And all talk about rounding up
    the Arab and Muslims stopped.
  68. And we were grateful.
  69. Now, why was Norm, his family,
  70. and 120,000 Japanese
    and Japanese-Americans -
  71. two-thirds were American citizens,
  72. from Washington, Oregon, and California -
  73. incarcerated after the attack
    on Pearl Harbour?
  74. Well,
  75. Cabrillo College instructor
    Sandy Lydon, historian emeritus,
  76. said the Japanese strawberry farmer
    of Watsonville had nothing to do
  77. with the attack on Pearl Harbour.
  78. Did you know that there were 158,000
    Japanese and Japanese-Americans
  79. living in the territory of Hawaii -
    it wasn't a state yet -
  80. who were not incarcerated,
    with the exception of about 2,000.
  81. They're in the war zone.
  82. Well, they needed the Japanese
    and Japanese-Americans in Hawaii
  83. to run the economy of Hawaii.
  84. They were the plurality,
    they were 37% of the population -
  85. a census was taken in 1940.
  86. Their general Evman said,
  87. "It's not necessary to do this.
    There is no plan for sabotage."
  88. We, who were 2,500 miles away
    from the war zone,
  89. we get incarcerated.
  90. Why?
  91. I have to take you back a little bit
    in American history.
  92. The United States Constitution
    legalized slavery.
  93. The U.S. government condoned
    and practiced racism.
  94. The Naturalization Act in 1790:
  95. Asians could not become citizens
    of the United States.
  96. The Cherokee Nation.
  97. You've heard of the trail of tears?
  98. They were forced out of their homes.
  99. Dred Scott decision,
  100. He was a slave,
  101. even in a free territory.
  102. There was an anti-Irish-Catholic
    mentality in this country.
  103. There were signs that were printed,
    and displayed: "No Irish Need Apply."
  104. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
  105. Plessy vs. Ferguson:
  106. "Separate but equal."
  107. How can the separate be equal?
  108. A. Mitchell Palmer Raids, 1919-1920.
  109. The communists, and Jews too,
    were deported without trial,
  110. just placed on a ship and shipped out.
  111. Immigration Act of 1924.
  112. The Japanese could not
    come to this country anymore.
  113. Fred Korematsu case.
  114. Our history is a history of racism,
  115. and discrimination regarding
    immigration as well.
  116. In the early 20th century,
    it was said in the newspapers -
  117. The Examiner, The Chronicle,
    The McClatchy papers, you know,
  118. Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee,
    and The Sentinel -
  119. that the Japanese race is an alien race
  120. which can never be assimilated
    into the American way of life;
  121. there is nothing of value
    of Japanese culture.
  122. Nothing of value.
  123. How many of you have eaten sushi?
  124. (Chuckling)
  125. Oh yeah, sushi's good for you.
  126. What about bonsai?
  127. Ikebana flower arranging?
  128. Origami?
  129. Wax on, wax off?
  130. (Chuckling)
  131. Karate?
  132. Ah,
  133. Japanese culture is rich.
  134. And so many enjoy participating
    n Japanese culture.
  135. To make sure the Japanese did not
    assimilate into this country,
  136. laws were passed.
  137. Asians could not own property,
  138. marry whites,
  139. become citizens of the United States.
  140. After the attack on Pearl Harbour,
  141. December 7th, 1941.
  142. John L. DeWitt,
  143. commander of the Western Fourth Army,
  144. at the Presidio of San Francisco,
  145. had the ear of the President
    of the United States.
  146. He said,
  147. "A Jap's a Jap.
  148. It makes no difference
    whether that Jap is a citizen or not."
  149. J. Edgar Hoover said: "Mr. President,
    we don't need to do this."
  150. Francis Biddle, who was
    the Attorney General at the time, said:
  151. "Mr. President, I don't think
    we can do this."
  152. There were no ...
  153. lawsuits filed on our behalf.
  154. Executive Order 9066
    was passed 75 years ago.
  155. You know, there was one group, nationally,
    one group, that supported us:
  156. The American Quakers,
  157. the American friends.
  158. They were the only ones.
  159. Nationally, not even
    the ACLU supported us.
  160. Locally,
  161. luckily, we had some friends.
  162. City attorney of Watsonville,
    John McCarthy,
  163. our police chief, Matt Graves,
  164. school teachers, public school teachers,
  165. and many others supported us.
  166. You know -
  167. The reward?
  168. They were called '"ap Lovers"
    for supporting us.
  169. They had their homes and cars vandalized.
  170. And they were among the very first
    to welcome us back.
  171. We had some very dear friends.
  172. In 1942,
  173. our homes were searched,
    without search warrants.
  174. The FBI came into our homes -
  175. they got the information
    from the Bureau of the Census.
  176. The Bureau of the Census
    is not supposed to do that.
  177. We were hacked.
  178. There were no trials,
    except for four people.
  179. But for the rest of us, we had no charges,
  180. no attorneys,
  181. no due process of law.
  182. This, the Constitution
    of the United States,
  183. ceased to exist for us.
  184. There were ten major camps,
  185. and from the camps,
  186. our men and women volunteered to serve
    in the United States Armed Forces.
  187. The men, many of them were
    in the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team,
  188. the most decorated army unit
    for its size and length of service.
  189. My two brothers were in the MIS,
    Military Intelligence Service,
  190. because they could read
    and write Japanese.
  191. They went to Japanese school
    after high school each day.
  192. They fought against the Japanese.
  193. We used the Japanese language
    as a weapon against the Japanese.
  194. The MIS
  195. stayed after the war,
  196. with the restoration,
    occupation restoration of Japan.
  197. Their service during the war saved
    countless American and Japanese lives.
  198. It is estimated that it shortened
    the war by two years.
  199. Congress formally acknowledged the work
  200. of the 100th/442nd and MIS
    with a Congressional Gold Medal.
  201. We're grateful.
  202. Our forced removal
  203. was illegal.
  204. Right?
  205. No.
  206. No.
  207. It's legal.
  208. The government of United States
    can evict anyone from their homes,
  209. if under the guise of
    "military necessity."
  210. Today, we won't use that term.
  211. We'll use the term "national security."
  212. Congress and the president apologized
    for our wartime experience.
  213. The Civil Liberties Act
    was passed on August 10th, 1988.
  214. We have an official apology.
  215. You know,
  216. of the 120,000,
  217. the government expected
    60,000 to have died,
  218. and 60,000 were still alive.
  219. But we fooled them.
  220. 80,000 of us were still alive.
  221. You see, sushi is good for you.
  222. (Laughter)
  223. There's only one race.
  224. That's the human race.
  225. There are those who wish
    to classify us, you know,
  226. "Oh, you're Caucasian American,
  227. you're Asian American,
  228. you're Hispanic American,
  229. or Black American."
  230. There's only one race.
  231. You know dogs?
  232. We call them German Shepards,
    French Poodles, and Chihuahuas.
  233. They go to anybody, right?
  234. They're color-blind.
  235. I wish humans were color-blind.
  236. (Sigh)
  237. Today, the present administration
  238. is constantly issuing
    new executive orders and policies
  239. regarding immigration,
  240. contrary to the spirit of America.
  241. Fortunately,
  242. now,
  243. we have the Southern Poverty Law Center,
  244. the American Civil Liberties Union.
  245. We have so many groups,
  246. and individuals,
  247. supporting what really is of true America,
  248. something we didn't see in 1942.
  249. Will it happen again?
  250. Memory is short.
  251. No, not under the guise
    of military necessity, no.
  252. So who's the biggest threat?
  253. Some suspect it will be
    the reporters and producers of fake news.
  254. It doesn't have to be
    an individual or a group,
  255. a national group or a racial group.
  256. It could be an occupation.
  257. The days of Walter Cronkite,
    the conscious of America, are long gone.
  258. Now we have the internet,
  259. radio talk show hosts,
  260. TV commentators.
  261. I'm grateful to be living here
    in Santa Cruz County,
  262. the second most
    iberal county in the nation.
  263. You know, if you know
    the history of Santa Cruz city,
  264. it wasn't always that way.
  265. Yeah, minorities were not
    welcome in Santa Cruz.
  266. Growing up, I didn't come
    to Santa Cruz very often.
  267. But that all changed.
  268. How?
  269. Thanks to Cabrillo College,
  270. and University of California
    at Santa Cruz.
  271. The intelligentsia came,
  272. and it changed the whole county.
  273. Today, this is the most wonderful place
    in the whole world to live.
  274. And I kid you not.
  275. Gordon Hirabayashi.
  276. He was a student
    at the University of Washington,
  277. a Quaker.
  278. He was arrested,
  279. convicted,
  280. imprisoned.
  281. The prosecuting attorneys
    lied to the judges.
  282. Yeah, he spent some time.
  283. Now, his conviction was vacated.
  284. Not overturned, vacated.
  285. Gordon Hirabayashi said,
  286. "Ancestry is not a crime."
  287. Today, we would add,
    "Islam is not a crime."
  288. With our newfound energy,
  289. we have a lot of work to do.
  290. You know those, there was
    a gentlemenwho live not too far
  291. from Charlottesville, Virginia,
  292. at a place called Monticello.
  293. Thomas Jefferson,
  294. "Eternal vigilance is a price of liberty."
  295. It's up to us, all of us,
  296. to work in peace,
    and harmony, compassion,
  297. to overcome hate and bigotry.
  298. And we can do it.
  299. Thank you.
  300. (Applause)