fix bar
fix bar
fix bar
fix bar
fix bar
fix bar

Browse > Theme > Working class struggles

26 articles

Forsaken Fields (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Displacement, Necessity of work, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Documentary film on the impact of wartime incarceration on Japanese American farming in California.

View

Hawaii, End of the Rainbow (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Immigrant experience, Injustice, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Available

Kazuo Miyamoto (1897–1988) was a Nisei doctor and author who was interned at various incarceration camps for the duration of World War II as a result of the publication of his observations during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). During his incarceration at Sand Island, Miyamoto began writing Hawaii, End of the Rainbow, which took him seventeen years to complete. Although a fictional account of the experiences of Japanese immigrants spanning nearly seventy years from their arrival in the Islands to World War II, it provides key insights from a participant in these important events.

View

Las Vegas Charley (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Temptation and destruction, Vulnerability of the meek, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Hisaye Yamamoto about an Issei man named Kazuyuki Matsumoto, who works as a dishwasher at a Las Vegas restaurant while gambling away his wages. In flashback, we learn of his life story: boyhood in Kumamoto prefecture, then migration to the U.S. where he becomes a successful farmer in Santa Maria, California, and is soon joined by a "picture bride" wife, Haru and two sons. But Haru's death in childbirth after the birth of their second son changes Kazuyuki's life decisively. He sends the two boys to live with his mother in Japan and becomes a migrant laborer. At first, he sends regular remittances home, but he soon picks up a gambling habit and the payments gradually come to an end. He later brings his Kibei sons back to the U.S., where they start a new farming venture in Orange County, California, this one less successful. Then comes ...

View

Memories of Place: Clarksburg's Japanese Language School (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, History
  • Importance of community, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short documentary film on the Holland Union Gakuen (Japanese language school) in Clarksburg, California.

View

An American Christmas (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Family – blessing or curse, Immigrant experience, Motherhood, Working class struggles
  • Available

Short story by Alice Nash centering on an elderly Issei woman in contemporary New York. As she struggles to carry a bag of rice home to her apartment, she reflects on her arrival in New York with her late husband after leaving the concentration camp and the kind Yamaguchi family who put them up while refusing to take money from them. They eventually opened a cleaning shop that helped pay for their only son's college education. A successful businessman in California, the son takes her on a trip every year, but largely keeps her away from her grandchildren due to his white wife's discomfort with her. When she gets back to her apartment, the family of the building's supervisor, the Gonzalez family, invites her to their home to help decorate their Christmas tree.

View

Drops of Water (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Capitalism – effect on the individual, Immigrant experience, Individual versus society, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Ferris Takahashi. A presumably young Sansei social worker and a colleague discuss the case of an elderly Issei homeless man who seems to want to remain homeless. Sections written from the perspective of the Issei man reveal his life as a laborer first on Hawai'i sugar plantations, then in the continental U.S. and the impact of his wartime incarceration and the razing of the residential hotel he once lived in.

View

Flowers from Mariko (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5
  • Grades 3-5
  • Children's, Historical Fiction
  • Growing up – pain or pleasure, Heartbreak of betrayal, Optimism – power or folly, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Picture book for children about a Japanese American family's World War II incarceration and difficulties in restarting their lives after the war, told from the perspective of a young girl of about nine of ten. Mariko, her little sister Emi, and their parents live in Los Angeles before the war, where their father works as a gardener. When they are forced to leave, he leaves his gardening truck and equipment with their landlord. When Japanese Americans are allowed to return to the West Coast in 1945, the family makes plans to return. However their father finds that his truck and equipment have been sold, and the former landlord is nowhere to be found. The family is forced to live in a government-run trailer park upon their return, and her father is unable to find work. One day, he finds some old equipment in the trash, along with some flower seeds. ...

View

The Floating World (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Coming of age, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Working class struggles, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Widely available

Acclaimed coming-of-age novel largely set on the road centering on Olivia Osaka and her itinerant family in the 1950s.

View

From Bullets to Ballots (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Quest for power, Role of men, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Documentary film on Japanese Americans from Hawai'i as part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and their role in the political realignment of Hawai'i after the war. From Bullets to Ballots was one of three short films directed by Robert A. Nakamura and produced by Karen L. Ishizuka in conjunction with From Bento to Mixed Plate: Americans of Japanese Ancestry in Multicultural Hawai'i, an exhibition produced by the Japanese American National Museum in 1997.

View

Maybe (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Capitalism – effect on the individual, Necessity of work, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Wakako Yamauchi about a middle-aged Japanese American woman working in a sweatshop with a group of undocumented immigrant workers from Latin America. Divorced after twenty-five years of marriage, Florence wanders into a garment factory with a help wanted sign and is hired on the spot and given a relatively responsible position despite her lack of qualifications due to what she thinks is the owners' stereotype about "Japanese." In her first person voice, she introduces various workers as well as the owner's much younger Colombian immigrant wife who takes an immediate disliking to her. She befriends a young couple who were forced to leave their young son back in Mexico and are unable to bring him to the U.S.; the husband semi-jokingly asks Florence to marry him so that he can get a green card. At the end of the story she recalls her and her family's confinement ...

View

Pleasure of Plain Rice (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Desire to escape, Self-awareness, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Essay/story by Hisaye Yamamoto on racial identity that focuses on her month-long stint as a domestic in Springfield, Massachusetts, during World War II. She begins the piece by noting various white Americans she knows who have changed their ethnic-sounding last names to less ethnic sounding ones, noting the futility of her doing such a thing as a Japanese American, citing the mass incarceration during World War II. Anxious to leave Poston, where she and her family ended up, she and two of her younger brothers are allowed to leave for Massachusetts in the summer of 1944. While her fifteen-year-old brother Yuke is placed in a summer camp in the Berkshires, the War Relocation Authority office in Boston assigns her and her seventeen-year-old brother Jemo to become domestic servants for a wealthy widow in Springfield. Both initially dislike the stern and formal family and the job duties that had to be ...

View

Biography Hawai'i: Koji Ariyoshi (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, Biography
  • Working class struggles, Change versus tradition, Convention and rebellion
  • Widely available

Documentary film that profiles journalist, labor leader, and former Manzanar inmate Koji Ariyoshi. Produced as part of the Biography Hawai'i series, it aired on public television stations in Hawai'i in May 2005.

View

Floating Home (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Facing reality, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Reunion, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story about a family returning to Little Tokyo from Rohwer. When fourteen-year-old Mari returns home with her parents, she expects to go to their old house, but is dismayed when they go to a run down residential hotel instead. Her father explains to her that they had rented the house they had lived in before the war, and they it was now being rented to someone else. Mari decides to walk to the house to take a last look. She finds an African American girl about her age on the swing in front. Initially suspicious, the girl becomes friendlier when Mari tells her why she and her family had to leave and invites her inside.

View

Ganbatte: Sixty-year Struggle of a Kibei Worker (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Capitalism - effect on the individual, Convention and rebellion, Empowerment, Important of community, Injustice, Rights - individual and societal, Self-awareness, Working class struggles
  • Available

Kibei-Nisei labor organizer and communist shares his life story, including his unique experiences during World War II as the husband of a white woman with a mixed-race child incarcerated while he served with the Military Intelligence Service in the Pacific Theater.

View

Mackerel Sky (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Immigrant experience, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • No availability

Short story by Jeff Matsuda in which a young Sansei man recalls various stories about his Issei grandfather: visiting him and his grandmother when he was a child; recreating the old man talking about his youth in Japan and his early years as a laborer in the U.S.; and visiting him with his mother when he was in college, and his grandfather was a nearly deaf old man. In the process, the narrator recalls his grandfather's internment: as a fisherman on Terminal Island, he was arrested a week after Pearl Harbor and sent to Bismarck and then to an unspecified camp in New Mexico, while the rest of his immediate family spent the war years in Japan.

View

Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Convention and rebellion, Evils of racism, Empowerment, Importance of community, Working class struggles
  • Available

Documentary film profiling Nisei political activist Yuri Kochiyama co-produced and co-directed by Patricia Saunders and Rea Tajiri.

View

Crossroads: Boyle Heights (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Importance of community, Immigrant experience, Working class struggles, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Widely available

A documentary film compiled from life histories of past and present residents of Boyle Heights, a working-class neighborhood east of downtown Los Angeles. From the 1920s-1950s, Boyle Heights was a racially and ethnically diverse home to immigrants from Mexico, Japan, England, Germany, Russia and Armenia as well as people from the east, the south and the southwest portions of the United States who lived, worked and worshiped in the area. The film also explores how the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans and their postwar return affected businesses and friendships. While many Japanese Americans faced hostility in other parts of Los Angeles, residents of Boyle Heights share stories of a deeper empathy with the plight of those incarcerated. Crossroads: Boyle Heights was originally produced to accompany the exhibition Boyle Heights: The Power of Place (2002) at the Japanese American National Museum.

View

Masao and the Bronze Nightingale (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Expression through art, Lost love, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Rubén "Funkahuatl" Guevara about a Nisei zoot suiter and saxophone player in East Los Angeles before and after World War II. Masao Matsui and his buddies Lil' Joe Casillas and Isamu Imoto grow up in Boyle Heights playing jazz and dressing in elaborate zoot suits prior to the war. Masao dreams of leading a band one day. His dreams are interrupted by World War II and his forced incarceration at Manzanar. He passes time playing jazz records and plays in the Jive Bombers in camp. After the war, he returns to Little Tokyo and works as a janitor, while soaking up the local jazz scene that sprang up there as part of "Bronzeville," the African American settlement that formed during the war. Then, one night at a club, he meets a dazzling singer who called herself the Bronze Nightingale, and his life is turned upside down.

View

My Name Is Yoshiko (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Names – power and significance, Optimism – power or folly, Role of women, Working class struggles
  • Available

Memoir of an ordinary Nisei woman that includes her wartime incarceration in American concentration camps. Yoshiko Kawaguchi (born in 1921) was the eldest daughter in a farm family in Downey, California. After attending sewing school, World War II hits and the family ends up in the horse stalls of Santa Anita, then in the Rohwer, Arkansas, concentration camp. Resettling in Michigan, she eventually gets a job at a fancy restaurant. She meets and marries a Nisei from Kaua'i and settles in Chicago, where her sisters and parents also eventually settle. Her husband becomes a mail carrier, and they adopt a girl. Later, they move to back to Downey and retire in Kaua'i.

View

Farewell to Manzanar (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Popular memoir that tells the story of one family's forced removal and confinement at Manzanar through the eyes of a young girl. First published in 1973, Farewell to Manzanar has sold over one million copies and is one of the most widely read accounts of Japanese American incarceration and its aftermath.

View

And Then a Rainbow (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Role of women, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Memoir by a Nisei woman who renounces her citizenship at Tule Lake and lives in Japan for thirteen years before returning to the U.S.

View

Doka B-100 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Character – destruction, building up, Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Short story by Ernest Nagamatsu on the difficult adjustment to civilian life of a group of World War II veterans. Written in the first person voice of an ex-GI named Hamamoto in 1954, "Doka B-100" coveys both Hamamoto's alienation and the welcoming embrace of Little Tokyo Los Angeles. Estranged from his domineering father because of the way he left the service (despite serving heroically in the 442nd, he quit before his time was up) and his choice of social work as an occupation, Hamamoto's wife had decided to go back to her family in Chicago with their daughter to get away from the arguments. Finding a small apartment in Little Tokyo and a part time job in a diner, he finds a niche in starting to counsel the veterans who would gather in a Little Tokyo pool hall. That work eventually leads to a paying job with the Veterans Administration. ...

View

Nasakenai (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Facing reality, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Short story about an Issei couple in the San Francisco Bay area in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Both work as servants—the husband as a gardener and the wife as a maid—for prominent white families in a wealthy adjacent community and support three children at home, with a son in the army. After the attack, the husband goes to work and is assured by his employer that she will not fire him despite community pressure to do so. But the wife, who has worked for the family of a prominent lawyer for over a decade, is fired, since the lawyer represents a farming organization that supports anti-Japanese actions. An Issei gardener who works for the same family is also fired. Afterwards, the wife visits briefly with the family of the gardener and goes home to work on her garden, vowing that things will be okay.

View

The Summer of '43 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Evils of racism, Individual versus society, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Short story centering on Akira Koyama, a Nisei man who has left an unspecified concentration camp to attend college in Utah. There, he stubbornly tries to find a summer job in the face of rampant discrimination. After being turned down for a draftsman position because of his ancestry, he visits a laundry owned by an acquaintance's family in search of other leads. Meanwhile, Dale, a white navy veteran and one of his college roommates, suffers from stomach pains that resemble appendicitis. Akira accompanies him to the hospital and waits as Dale has successful surgery. After a conversation with the doctor, Akira is offered a job at the hospital.

View

Through the Lens of Russell Lee: Mathias Uchiyama's Story (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Power of the past, Working class struggles, Displacement
  • Widely available

Short documentary film about a Japanese American family that left the Portland Assembly Center to engage in farm labor in eastern Oregon, produced to accompany the traveling exhibition Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps during World War II.

View