Imagine being separated from your family, taken and put into a camp, and arrested because of the color of your skin. This is exactly what happened with the internment of Japanese Americans from 1942-1945. After Pearl harbor took place, President Roosevelt thought it to be best if people of Japanese descent be contained. Roosevelt signed an executive order that would command the relocation of Japanese ancestry. Most of those who were detained were Americans, but because they came from Japanese descent they were still held.
The internment camps were awful. They were overcrowded and cramped, there was hardly any room to breathe let alone live a manageable life. Their “house” was built from simple framework that had no source for plumbing usage, so we can only imagine the smell, and no where to cook. Nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans were in these camps. The rations of food were nowhere near a dietary plan, some people would go days without eating.
The fact that these people were citizens of America probably made it very hard for them to see America as the promise land. The last camp was closed in 1945 and almost 24 years later, the Japanese Americans were compensated by congress for their property they had lost. So, we were trying to apologize, but it was a little late I’d say. I think their conception of citizenship has been obliviated. They had been here for years and we decide to ruin their lives because of Pearl Harbor? Because they look or could be related to those who hurt us? If I was in that position, I know I wouldn’t trust any type citizenship I was a part of.
If I was in their position, I think I would feel betrayed. I would feel as if I didn’t matter to my country and that they did not care about my freedom. I think being detained for something that I didn’t do, but could potentially do because of how I looked is insane. I think Justice Frank Murphy was right when he said internment was basically legalized racism. Being a hard working American, paying taxes and abiding by rules, should be treated as such, not a criminal, especially because of my heritage or my looks.
I’m sure at the time it seemed like a good idea, maybe even the best idea to keep America safe, but really we just looked like cowards. We could have done better. Haven’t we repeated history enough?
Keene, Jennifer D., Cornell, Saul, and O’Donnell, Edward T. Visions of America: A History of the United States, Volume2, 3rded. 2019