Japanese Americans Struggle for Equality (book)
Creators: Liane Hirabayashi
Early overview book for young readers on the Japanese American experience framed through a lens of discrimination and the responses to it. Issued as part of a "Discrimination" series on various ethnic groups by Rourke Corporation (now Rourke Educational Media), it was published in 1992.
After an introductory chapter on the concept of discrimination and its causes, author Liane Hirabayashi discusses the meaning of Japanese American generations ( Issei , Nisei , Sansei , and Yonsei ) before delving into the history. She spends two chapters on the Issei period, one on the World War II years, and two chapters on the postwar years. Chapters on the " model minority " stereotype and on notable Japanese Americans end the book. A detailed timeline, annotated lists of books and films/videos, and an index comprise the appendices. Though condensed into one chapter, the World War II treatment is fairly thorough, covering the road to exclusion, life in the concentration camps, Japanese American military service , resistance, and Hawai'i.
While the research is unusually thorough for a children's book, there are many small errors in the text. Among the more substantial: writing that the War Relocation Authority (WRA) was responsible for designing "a program to evacuate people from the military areas" and establishing the " assembly centers " (page 45–46; these duties were performed by the U.S. Army, through its Wartime Civil Control Administration ); a claim that the 1924 "Japanese Nationality Act renounced the citizenship of all Nisei" (16; this is not true, as many Nisei retained their dual citizenship , an issue that proponents of mass removal and incarceration would often cite); writing that the "the California state legislature passed a tougher version of the 1913 [alien land] law " in 1920 (32; while the 1920 law did indeed close loopholes in the 1913 law, it was passed as a ballot initiative, not by the legislature); writing that Curtis Munson, an investigator operating as part of a secret White House intelligence unit led by John Franklin Carter , was working for the State Department (41); and a claim that the highest wage earned by incarcerated Japanese Americans was $16 a week (58; it was actually $19 a month). Many others seem to be typos or misidentifications: writing of the gannenmono that all "were from Yokohama prefecture" (19; Yokohama is a city in Kanagawa Prefecture); calling lynched merchant Katsu Goto "Hiroshi Goto" (21); writing that Earl Warren was running for governor in "November 1941" (45; should be November 1942); citing Congresswoman Patsy Mink 's birth year as 1947 (83; she was born in 1927); calling the Japanese American National Museum the "National Japanese American Museum" (93); misspelling filmmaker Michael Toshiuki Uno as "Mike Toshiyuka Uno" (97).
For More Information
Marton, Diane S. Review in School Library Journal , Dec. 1992, 138. ["The writing is dry and sometimes grammatically incorrect. Hirabayashi overdoes the use of acronyms: 3 different ones appear 12 time in a half page of text."]