Thanksgiving Day Parade, Gila River Japanese Concentration Camp, 1942. During World War II, over 120,000 American citizens of Japanese descent were imprisoned. At the time, they used euphemisms such as "relocation" and "internment" to soften the perception of white supremacist, totalitarian policies like Japanese mass incarceration on Native American reservations like the one pictured above. As a Japanese-Filipino American, I've always struggled with Thanksgiving mythology because it reminds me of the erasure of my people (and of so many people) from United States history.
Even now, mass incarceration, mass deportation, and many other forms of institutional oppression still exist. Language is being used to normalize hate. This morning, I talked with my parents about the proposed "Muslim registry" where "Japanese internment" was used as legal precedent for it and how people do not see anything wrong with it. In fact, people (some of whom are my family and friends) in the United States just voted for it in the presidential election.
But now is not the time to despair. Difficult conversations will be had as our loved ones come together to break bread this holiday weekend. We must work to be present with each other even when we disagree. I just wanted to write this reflection for the person who might have a hard time on holidays like Thanksgiving or Columbus Day and so on--you are not alone. And for everyone who wants positive change in their family, community, and world. It's a blessing to be here to do the work together.
I love you all. In solidarity, Koji.