I first learned about the Japanese American Internment through an 8th grade English class while reading Farewell to Manzanar (J 940.547 H81), a memoir of one girl’s experience at the Manzanar camp and the aftermath. I think I may have learned more about the Japanese American Internment through that book than in the US history class I had later taken - and I had learned a lot of other things in that US History class. I understand that given the limits of time and print space, not everything can be covered in depth. You’d have to seek out other ways of exploring, learning, and enhancing what you’re just starting to know.
I would like to bring your attention to the below video set to the song, “Kenji”, by Fort Minor, a hip-hop project managed by rapper, Mike Shinoda. The song speaks of the Japanese immigrant experience during World War II and the Japanese American Internment through the eyes of the titular character, Kenji. Interspersed are excerpts of interviews Shinoda held with his father, who was born in an internment camp, and his aunt. The video isn’t the official music video but a project created by a student, Venus Ko. The pictures chosen in this video came from the national archives and various digital libraries and hit on the bleak reality of a time that has seemed like a bad dream. Watch it and compare what you hear, see, and feel in the music video to Wheelock’s summer reading book, Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor was Divine.
This post is the second in a series that will explore the topics found in this year’s Wheelock summer reading selection, When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka.