“Her Only Crime Was That She Looked Like the Enemy”

Yesterday, my class learned from Sally Sudo, a survivor of the Japanese American internment camps and I sure wish Mr. Donald Trump (along with many other politicians who have voiced such strong and terrifying sentiments towards Syrian refugees or Muslims in general) could have joined us as I think we/we all could learn quite a bit from Ms. Sudo’s story.

She had a lot to say about her experience being Japanese-American during this time when, as she put it, her only crime was that she looked like the enemy. She described her family’s experience with the hysteria and fear of the “other” of WWII. She explained the living conditions and the persecution she, and others, experienced. She told us what it meant for her and others when, finally, in 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act that apologized for the wrong done to Japanese-Americans during WWII.

Have we forgotten so soon?

When asked why she thinks we should know her story today, she answered, “It is so easy to revert back to this mentality… this mentality of fear… If we don’t protect others, than we are apt to repeat the same mistakes again. It is important to know your rights and to protect the rights of others.”

In conclusion of this unit, I am having my students read the following article where Japanese-Americans who experienced the internment camps are asked to speak into what is happening with Syrian refugees. Check it out – it’s powerful stuff!

The dark memories of seven decades ago have bubbled to the surface in recent weeks for many people who were sent to Japanese internment camps.

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