George Takei at Rohwer Camp in Arkansas, where he and his family were imprisoned during World War II.
Look, this post just made me start crying and I was going to just say everything I had to say in tags but there’s too much.
I learned about the Japanese Internment camps in high school. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m on the west coast and most of the people imprisoned were from this side of the country, but I’ve talked to a lot of people who weren’t taught as much as I was. And let me make this clear: I was told the happened. That was pretty much it.
Nobody said “We were so wrong to let this happen in our country.” Nobody said “This was grossly racist and wrong and we should all feel horrified by this.” Nobody said “It’s wrong that the government thought that paying each of these people $20,000 decades later could make up for homes lost, businesses lost, lives stolen and the humiliation, shame, and horror of being imprisoned by your own country for the crime of your ethnic ancestry.”
We were wrong. This was horrifying.
The fact that it doesn’t get taught, doesn’t get talked about, that it’s one of those terrible things that happened that people excuse (my own grandmother excuses this!) because “war requires hard choices and sacrifices” is disgusting.
So kudos on so many levels to Mr. Takei. He’s right. This place matters. This place matters so fucking much.
I feel so freaking lucky that a local substitute teacher in my school district came to speak to our class about her experiences as a kid in one of the internment camps. Having a woman you’ve had teach you on and off since kindergarten tell you about how she still sees the search lights that were on all night flash in front of her eyes when she closes them really makes the lesson of ‘we did this not too long ago to our fellow Americans and that’s terrible’ stick with you.