Please, oh please, immediately after you read this post, order the book They Called Us Enemy. It is an ever so powerful and important book and a part of our American history. The graphic novel is the story of George Takei’s personal story of the years he and his family lived behind barbed wires, prisoners due to his ethnic background. Although this story touches me personally due to my own connection to the Holocaust, I was unfamiliar with how the Japanese-Americans were treated in America during the war. It is crucial that we all know about this part of history and how this legalized racism existed, not so long ago.
Similar to George Takei, my father in law, a Japanese American, spent time in an interment camp. He was actually born in one. Yet, his proud Japanese-American parents, trying to put the past behind, never shared much about their experience either to their children or grandchildren (including my husband Ken). It wasn’t until Ken was in middle school that he put two and two together and figured out his father was born in an interment camp. This book isn’t just important to Japanese Americans, but to all of us.
A brief summary is that in 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard. In this book, Takei describes the pain, terrors, and joys as a boy in a camp. This graphic novel is a quick read and a book you cannot put down once you start. My 10 year old son read it which has led to great conversations and discussions about racism and our country. Thank you, George Takei, for sharing your story and educating so many of us. I never knew any of this history and now feel it is my duty to share it with you all.