Japanese American Citizen Essay examples

Submitted By nochoa1
Words: 1803
Pages: 8

Final Paper Japanese Americans are in many respects “model citizens”, who exemplify middle-class virtues such as a strong achievement of motivation, long-range goals, the importance of keeping up appearances and the respect for law and order (Connor, 1976). They arrive to America penniless with barely more than the clothes on their backs and with eagerness, notable work ethic and dedication to education-they are soon achieving the American dream (Wu, 2013). This great perception toward Asian Americans in general did not help Japanese Americans during WWII. On February 19, 1942 President Roosevelt issued and executive order that all persons of Japanese ancestry residing on the United States mainland including-men, women, children and the elderly to be incarcerated (Howard, 2004). Over 120,000 people were interned of whom 77,000 were American citizens placed in desolate concentration camps without charges, trial or evidence of disloyalty to the United States (Perea, Delgado, Harris, Wildman, 2001). Fast forward, 71 years later I had the privilege to submerge myself in the Japanese culture this year. This summer I attended the 58th Annual Japanese Ginza Holiday Festival located at the Midwest Buddhist Temple in Chicago. I know this sounds cliché and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit but I had no previous knowledge of the Japanese culture other than the attack on Pearl Harbor, sushi and origami. My world was awakened by such rich culture, anguish and passion that Japanese Americans have endured. While attending this festival I received a lot of literature concerning Japanese culture and the preservation of their civil rights. Japanese American Citizen League (JACL) was founded in 1929 and is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the United States. The JACL is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community (Japanese American Citizen League, 2008). Japanese Americans being “model citizen” the JACL made the decisions to join forces with the U.S. government to promote Nisei (second generation off spring) as loyal and demonstrate their assimilation to American society. Although, the JACL was harshly criticized for participating with the U.S.-because members believed that the organization should have done more to defend Japanese Americans (Lyon, 2008). After the war, the JACL became active in turning back discriminatory legislations and in the late 1970’s the United States government acknowledged it’s wrong-doing in the Civil Liberties Act, and awarded each living individual who had been interned $20,000 (Howard, 2004). Today, JACL continues to support and fight for not just the rights of Japanese Americans but all Americans. JACL is strongly dedicated to addressing and help shape the identities of the youngest generations of Japanese Americans. While at the Ginza Festival there were young adults giving out information regarding the Kansha Project. This program connects Japanese American young adults to their ethnic identity and community history by learning about the Japanese American incarceration experience during WWII. On this trip they visit the Manzanar incarceration camp. They tour the barracks, explore the desert, listen to stories and instill a greater appreciation for the previous generation struggle and gain a new found respect for their grandparents and their people as a whole. At the 58th annual Ginza festival I also had the privilege to experienced taiko. The character for tai means “large” and the character for ko refers to “drum”. Since the early 1960’s in Japan taiko is a new genre of group drumming which emphasizes “ancient” or “authentic” roots of the Japanese…