APEX Express

APEX Express – 7.7.22 Campu Cameras

A weekly magazine-style radio show featuring the voices and stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders from all corners of our community. The show is produced by a collective of media makers, deejays, and activists.

Show Transcript Campu’s Cameras

Good evening, everyone. You’re listening to apex express Thursday nights at 7:00 PM. My name is Swati Rayasam, and I’m the special editor for this episode. Tonight, we continue to highlight our sister organization Densho and their podcast series Campu, where brother and sister team Noah and Hannah Maruyama tell the story of the Japanese American incarceration as you’ve never heard it before.

Tonight’s episode is called “Cameras”, here’s Noah.

Archie Mia talk. His dad had a secret and it was a good one. I was playing with some friends outside and then all of a sudden, my father told me to go inside the. So I thought I did something wrong. He was going to ball me out. As you might’ve gathered over the previous episodes, privacy was basically not existed in man’s center with a one-room apartment, to a family, multiple families, to a Barrack, all watched over by armed guards to keeping secrets in the first place was difficult, but the other mentor, he had done it.

I went in the apartment and told me to sit down and they said, I gotta show you something. Dad was Tomia talkie before the war. You don’t to thrive in photography business in LA, after Pearl Harbor, the federal government made Japanese Americans turn in any contraband things like guns and dynamite, but also cameras and shortwave radios to talk.

And I was allowed to keep at least some of his cameras, but as business was reduced to take Japanese American identification photos now required by the government. When the family was forced to leave me and Taka had put most of us equipment in storage in Los Angeles, most, but not all of it. Cameras weren’t allowed with the camps.

When you talk. I knew this, so he didn’t bring it to him. He brought the lens

from Densho I’m Noah Maruyama. And this is comfort.

When I say tutorial, Mia Takei brought a lens into man’s NAR. I don’t just mean a physical camera lens, although he did bring one of those, but he also brought a unique perspective on the camps. The vast majority of the photos of the camps were taken by people who are not incarcerated. They were by and large, white and hired by the WRA.

This isn’t a surprise. Even if their cameras had been permitted by the time the Japanese Americans were incarcerated, most have turned in their cameras to their local police departments sold them, hidden them, or given them away, you were supposed to go police station and turn those contrabands I guess they called it.

Yeah. We turned our cameras into the government when we first got relocated in may of 1942, soon after. That was the first time I’ve ever been in a police station. The FBI agent opened the drawer, found this carer. You’re not supposed to have this. I said this bro. What’d he took it anyway, my cousin. Yeah.

Do we go to expensive German camera? Because he was a photographer. It took all those, but he never got to any of those back, all the cameras and the radios were all confiscated as contraband. If you have a camera, how do you better hide it? Our cameras and the arms that we had. So mystery Quetta and my two older brothers decided that they should bury these expensive camera.

I had a camera. I gave to a friend, they marched off 10 paces to the. Something like that. They had a map. So I took my camera and so they dug a big hole. They buried all this stuff, buried in the ground. And then after the war, they came back and they marched off 10 faces and they could never find it. They dug and they dug and they dug for days, but never found it crazy.

It’s gone. So camp pictures have very scarce for us, but they’re a little less scarce for us because Tomia Taka had a hunch that history would need his life. That day and the family’s Barrack apartment, our Timiya talk. Hey, recall, he says, as a photographer, I have a responsibility. I didn’t know what he was talking about.

And he says, well, you know, I’ll have to take all the pictures in Manzanar to keep a record of what’s going on here. So this kind of thing will never happen again. wasn’t alone and feeling the responsibility to document camp life. Here’s a Edward SoCo. Who was incarcerated at heart mountain. I have been a historian all my life, preserving history or a certain area or certain things.

So I began to take pictures of activities in the camp, and nobody else did. waited until spring 1943. When the Western defense command lifted its restrictions on cameras in the camps project director guy was the one day. I like to have my camera back to record some of the history negativities, a camp. So immediately he got in touch with or relocation.

Sorry. And next day I got a report says you may have your camera and photograph real quick, but back in 1942, it wasn’t clear if or when the incarcerees would get their cameras back. Some decided that if photography wasn’t allowed it find other ways to document their experiences, artists like Munio Kubo and chiro Bata used art and taught students to create their own representations.

Here’s Dr. Elena Tajima Crieff author of imaging, Japanese America, visual construction of citizenship, and the body artists never had the same constraints around what they were allowed to draw or paint or. Others wrote poetry stories kept diaries at a time when the federal government was clearly censoring Japanese American representations of the concentration camps.

All of these different forms have vital roles to play in the historical record. And as a result, their artistic record is much fuller, much more three-dimensional and filled with a full range, not just of the details of everyday life in camp, but also the emotional status of the interior. Mia talk. I wasn’t the only incarcerate who found a way to get a camera for himself.

Dave taught Suna, for instance, found sympathy and a fellow movie, man Topaz he’d left his camera with a friend before leaving for camp director cooperatives, the government man, very nice fellow walls, the hundred. I was standing next to him and all of a sudden he has a camera and he was taking it. I said behold, I give my right arm to have my camera here now.

Exactly what I said. And normally it’s against the law. You know, when he said, Dave, what is your camera? It’s an Oakland with a friend of mine. He says, I know it too. Right? Him and Matt, it was sent to me Monday. He goes to my Barrack with the camera and he says, Dave, because awful, don’t take it near the fence where the gods are, but he couldn’t exactly carry a camera around campus.

He needed a way to conceal it. Mrs. Day’s baby shoes that we used to sell in a stolen shampoo school. And later in camp, I put the camera right in that little box that like a camera touch soon. I took rare film footage of the camps. Yeah, it was very, very fortunate to have this camera without it. You wouldn’t have Topaz that’s SUNO.

Wasn’t the only one experimenting with new photographic technologies and camps. Bill Mambo used Kodachrome film, which had only been invented in 1935 to take some rare color photos of life at heart mountain, but taking the photos was just half the story after shooting them. The photographers needed to find ways to develop.

But the incarcerees were nothing. If not resourceful, friend of ours was an x-ray technician. So on a weekend, we use that dark room to make prints and stuff. The heart mountain father-son team, George and Frank here, harra dug a hole underneath their Barrack and built a dark room there. Suck our way in Mia, Taka among others, turn their barracks into dark rooms.

Here’s me a TACA, the place in the apartment where we lived, but he would put it all away by. And we wouldn’t even know it. He was doing anything, the windows we had to look for cardboards, and that was solid text boards. We went to look for those in the scrap pile. And my brother worked in the Woodward shops, putting those together.

We closed up the windows to make a dark room. I met a dark room in the corner and to lake Devin was the. Well, me and talking to others, we’re finding creative ways to document their experiences on camp. The WRA was rapidly compiling its own photographic record in spring 1942, Dorothea Lange, best known for her iconic migrant mother of a woman and her children during the great depression was hired by the WRA photographs, the forced removal of Japanese Americans just before evacuated.

She came to our home and Alice met her. Then after that, we made her again and. Lang’s photos put the ironies of the forest removal in bold relief, photos of young Japanese American girls saying the pledge of allegiance. The little boys dressed up in scout uniforms, a son in military uniform, helping his mother prepare to leave a Japanese American world war one veteran being taken away by military police.

My critique around laying out is that her photographs of internees really cast them as tragic subjects. And of course it is a tragic chapter in American history. There’s no doubt about it. My beef is just that her photographs simply frame them as tragic victims of a particular moment in history. I feel like I had taken all these pictures of us leaving and I stood in front of the pictures and I started to solve.

’cause I thought if I had to give up everything today, what I had, I mean, I couldn’t, I don’t think that I can do that. And I, it certainly hit me what my mother had gone through. photos show tremendous empathy for the plight of the incarcerees at a moment when much of the country it was demanding, they’re incarcerated.

And Lang hired to photograph the forest removal was observing Japanese Americans at a moment when they were most helpful. So again, the pathos that her camera records are literally of Japanese and Japanese Americans undergoing the trauma of removal. As they’re waiting for buses and waiting for trains and they’re tagged and they’re pulling their children to, but Japanese Americans weren’t tragic in and of themselves are resigned to forced removal and incarceration.

Some were actively resisting it in big ways and small, still the WRA was clearly threatened by Lange’s photos. They were impounded by federal sensors until the WRA closed in 1946 and remains largely unknown for decades after that. As it’s censorship of Langs of jests, the WRA encouraged heavily sanitized representations of the camps.

Photographers were explicitly forbidden from taking photos of the barbed wire guard towers and armed centuries. Instead we see smiling students, hard-working farmers, children saying the pledge of allegiance families celebrating Thanksgiving and metal. These images make up the majority of the WRS photographs and film as well.

They cast the Japanese American incarceration is good Americans. These people are not prisoners of war. That’s still in Meyer WRA director from May, 1942 onwards. They were not charged with anything except having the wrong end that, oh, that’s right. You’ve said two thirds of them are American citizens.

Didn’t do. Why would the WRA be so interested in reminding the American populace that the people that have just locked up in the concentration camps were in fact American citizens and photographing them as good Americans when the whole premise of the incarceration is that. That’s the exact opposite, even though the war relocation authority is responsible for the operation of the relocation centers.

We’re convinced that they are not good thing. Kind of a strange thing for the director of the agency tasked with running the relocation centers to set the right. We asked Dr. Elihu about it. She’s the author of the color of success. Asian-Americans and the origins of the model. Americans told themselves.

And they told the world that they were fighting a war or the cause of democracy. For some reason, locking up 120,000 people on the basis of race. Didn’t really mesh with that perception. The government also wanted to protect American citizens who had been taken hostage by the Japanese. Here’s Milton S Eisenhower who directed the WRA for the first few months of the agency’s existence.

And yeah, the brother of that, we are setting a standard for the rest of the world in the treatment of people who may have loyalties to an enemy nation. We are protecting ourselves without violating the principles of Christians. And we won’t change this fundamental decent thing, no matter what our enemies do.

But of course we hope most earnestly that our example will influence the access power. Then.

but that doesn’t entirely explain why the WRA was so invested in portraying the incarcerees as good Americans. Here’s Meyer Eisenhower. It’s not easy to raise good Americans behind Barb wire. The relocation centers seem necessary last year, but we’re finding that under the influence of the conditions and what.

Many of the evacuees are losing something very precious to them and important to the nation. There are faith in democracy, which is the only way of life led know, and the nation is losing too because these people might be, they might be working at something that’ll help the country instead of costing the taxpayers money.

There it is. The WRA was expensive, especially for our country in the middle of a war. Under Meyer. The WRA began to send people away almost as soon as that it opened the centers. But in order to do that, the agency had to convince Americans not to oppose Japanese-American resettlement in their communities.

Maybe Meyer, genuinely cared about the incarcerated. Or like Eisenhower. He wanted to show the Japanese just how well the U S was treating its prisoners. He may have thought that these humane facilities would help distinguish the allies from their access enemies or his concerned about faith and democracy was a pioneer for his conviction, that this was a waste of tax dollars.

Or he thought that this argument would hit home with ordinary Americans. Or he was just doing his job, probably some combination of the above, but regardless of Meyer’s individual motivations, the WRA was up against a slew of anti-Japanese propaganda coming from all sides. It was in the papers on the radio, on TV in cartoons.

You may even recognize the name of one of the cartoonists, Dr. Seuss, the cat in the hat. Uh, He was the one newspaper cartoon or set that time. And he drew some vicious cartoon in one of his comics, Theodore Geisel later known as Dr. Seuss depicted Japanese Americans in California, Oregon, and Washington lining up to collect TNT from a shack.

The caption reads waiting for the signal from hell the cartoon endorses. The idea that people of Japanese ancestry in the U S were loyal to Japan and helping them with the war. And plays up racial stereotypes about what Japanese people look like. They’re all men with slant eyes and big obsequious smiles on their faces.

You know, the bog standard Asian caricature that had seems so outdated today. If it weren’t still being used and say the most recent season of south park Geisel was not alone in using images to highlight the perceived racial differences of Japanese American. In late 1941 time magazine published a now infamous article that sought to educate Americans who were quote, demonstrating a distressing ignorance on the delicate question of how to tell a Chinese from a Jap picture, this horrible looking person who is obviously the enemy.

And it had a person of, uh, you know, a very kind looking face. That person must be China. And let’s not forget that the federal government was not exactly innocent to. Here’s Dr. It’s like whiplash, you know, you have in 19 41, 19 42, the government is making this blanket decision and saying we can’t distinguish between disloyal and loyal Japanese Americans.

So we’re just going to lock them all up. And so you have to get from there to convincing the public to welcome and accept Japanese American newcomers. And so there basically was a messaging public relations campaign undertaken by government affairs. And it wasn’t the only one in 1943, Ansul Adams, a landscape photography.

Took a series of photographs documenting life at man’s and R he wasn’t hired by the WRA, but gained access to Manzanar because he was friends with its director, Ralph merit. I first saw him. He frightened me. He seemed like a very big man to me, but of course we were little kids. I thought he was the youngest man I’d ever seen.

We were waiting for school to start and. Kind of following him around this gentleman came and just looked around and asked if he could take a picture of us. I told him I want to face the camera. And he said, no, you’re going to face how I told you very friendly. I said, my sister’s facing. Nope. Just took the picture.

I really, so there I am with my back to the camera. That’s how he posed us as Joyce Okazaki shows, photographers posed incarcerees to visually construct a photo is power to construct. The image was heightened because Adams was a well-known white photographer, visiting Manson art by choice, but Adams wasn’t alone and constructing images in this.

I love the anecdotal story of Dorothea Lange. Who’s photographing internees on relocation day barking orders and asking people to move vehicles around, to create an even better. There’s a lot of stage managing that has gone on behind the images of his famous documentary photographers power dynamic was heightened because Adams and Lang were not subject to the incarceration themselves.

That picture, which is not a typical that was fixed up. They knew people from Los Angeles who used to ship them and stuff. And so they made it look like it was a pretty nice apartment. They didn’t have what looks like the average flight. When I looked at, then I said, this doesn’t look like , Adam’s felt that what had happened to Japanese Americans was wrong and he wanted to, to pick them as stop me.

If you’ve heard this one before. Good America. Here’s Dr. Crieff again, he was compelled with some sense of the outrage and injustice of Japanese American citizens who were interned. He had a personal connection with someone who’d been incarcerated. Adams had a Japanese gardener who was interned, and he was so outraged that somebody, he considered a friend as well as someone in his employ was taken away, that he wanted to do something.

Adams viewed the photos. He took it mans and are some of the most important. And the photos were very controversial when they first came out in 1940 and his collection born free and equal is a harsh critique was not particularly well received and was published in 19, 19 46. But despite his good intentions, his photos fell short of depicting the real experiences of the incarcerees.

And so I thought I mentioned that everything in picture is not necessarily true. Adam’s took a lot of post portraits of smiling. Incarcerees the extreme closeup is when they’re just fascinated me because they almost look especially with the vantage point of time, like archetypes and the archetype is loyal, which is a subtitle for a born free and equal portraits of the loyal Japanese American studies.

Grief also notes that a disproportionate number of these photos were of woman, the women and all the school girls are so incredibly squeaky, clean and sanitize and, and, and bright. And they visually challenge a war time framing of the Japanese Americans as suspicious as, but sometimes this makes the camp experience look well happy.

Unsurprisingly Lang didn’t agree with Adam’s depiction of the incarcerate. Despite having initially encouraged him to visit Manzanar. She later said, quote, he never got it. Never understood what was wrong with the internment. Lang was a documentary photographer. Adams was not, he was primarily a landscape photog.

I’m that it was in his photos, looking at Manzanar, looking at interment camp life through a long distance lens where the bodies of internees are literally dwarfed as they disappear into the really beautiful, well irrigated and plowed farmland that they’re cultivating, but they disappear into the backdrop of land and earth and mountain.

Here’s Dr. Author of picturing model citizens, civility, and Asian American visual culture. This concern with landscape, uh, set aside sizes to the point of erasing the real experience of Japanese Americans and the harshness of the. What was striking to me in this was kind of the erasure of the labor, the immense amounts of labor that went into it.

It’s almost as though in order to earn the right of citizenship, which they were still nevertheless denied, they had to prove their capacity to be productive. Yeah. The Asians could prove their belonging by being good workers with later become a fundamental tenant to the model minority. The myth is often attributed to one William Peterson in 1966, Peterson wrote in New York times piece entitled success story.

Japanese-Americans. But more than 20 years earlier, the concepts underlying the myth are evident and the WRS photographic representation of the camps. I absolutely think that the incarceration experience laid the foundation for the emergence of a new way of thinking about Asian-Americans as a so-called model minority, most Americans have heard of the model minority myth.

What is it exactly? It’s a racial stereotype that Asians have a kind of model culture where they really prize family values, respect for their elders, resilience and productivity working in the defense industries, or let’s say in food production, agricultural efficiency, a reference for education. Good neighbors.

Good citizens. The most patriotic, quiet Uber citizens at the nation wanted to assimilate and blend into American society. There are various sacrifices as soldiers and as internees, so they didn’t really make waves and make trouble have complied with executive orders. in their incarceration. These characteristics can be seen through kind of the visual depiction of Japanese Americans at the camps themselves, the place where she sees the model minority myth, emerging and Japanese American incarceration, a whole set of photographs by a number of photographers.

That instead, um, paid attention to kind of the lushness or the productiveness with which the internees were able to coax vegetables and other goods from this land.

The WRS thinking was this. If Japanese Americans proved their capacity to be productive, then all the bad things that people were saying about them that they carry diseases have lots of babies can assimilate. Going to take over the west coast, all of that would be proven wrong. We’re two immigrants and their children from Asia.

They were thought of as threatening as an American as fundamentally alien to America. Okay. This threat is known as yellow peril and actually it’s inseparable from the model minority myth with COVID-19 we’ve seen firsthand how one can easily give way to the other, the model minority and the yellow peril.

They are in some ways, two sides of that same like racist. And I think what connects them is the idea that really Asians are just, there’s something in there deep inside that is just too different. You’re never really one of us, even if you seem super assimilated and successful, but it was an easy narrative for Japanese Americans to buy into one that many got caught up in.

I think the problem is they’re holding out to this idea that there is a model minority. And if you make enough money and you can move the suburbs and buy your Lexus with a 20 grand, you got the reparations to redress or whatever that somehow you’ve bought your rights to be an American in this society.

And you don’t have to deal with it anymore. Beneath the surface of the model, minority myth was extensive trauma. We’re working with people in the community, knew that there were a lot of problems with drugs drop out from school families that were broken up. There’s a legacy and the pain of that. It’s still being played out through the Sansei and the UNC generation.

And it’s still there.

You are tuned in to apex express at 94.1 KPFA and 89.3 KPFB in Berkeley. And [email protected] Coming up is the song. “World go blind” by Kultural Guerrillas.

That was “World go blind” by Kultural Guerrillas. And now back to Densho.

By the 1960s, the model minority myths was being exploited for a new purpose to fight against the black freedom movement. African-Americans were now thought of as these troublemakers, but people who were activists of the black freedom. Yeah. Then each and Americans in many ways were considered their opposite.

Right. They seem to be doing just fine recovering from the traumas of war time, not by rabble-rousing in the streets, you know, and doing sit-ins and protests, but seemingly. Not rocking the boats and getting along with everybody, the comparison ignores the vastly different experiences of Asian-Americans and African-Americans in this country.

The model minority myth is used as a term to discipline and punish other racialized groups within the U S and while it’s not as overt, we can see the comparison between Japanese Americans and other underrepresented populations emerging during world war II in how WRA photographers depicted American India.

In episode three, we discussed postin Heela river and loop, which were located on American Indian reservations story is that somehow this would be mutually beneficial that Japanese Americans and American Indians would work together, um, to make the land a better place underlying that narrative or assumptions about Japanese Americans being exceptional farmers and American Indians sitting on undeveloped land.

One WRF photo depicts, Mrs. Ruby Snyder, a chemi wavy member of the Colorado river Indian community. As saying, I hear that the Japanese are wonderful farmers. I would like to go down to see how the growth things, the caption ads, undeveloped land will be irrigated for growing crops in the war relocation center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry, living on the Colorado Indian reservation, suggesting that the Mojave and Chima wavy weren’t using that land.

That’s not. They just, weren’t using it in ways deemed appropriate by the office of Indian affairs, this introduction of Japanese Americans as somehow being superior caretakers of the land, who can demonstrate their greater capacity to farm and lives. The very material deprivations that had been suffered as a long standing result of bureau of Indian affairs policy.

But this implied comparison, a comparison that’s foundational to the model. Minority myth suggests that if Japanese Americans could make it after all they went through, why couldn’t anyone else? The model minority concept upholds or reproduces this mythology of American life. And that mythology basically says that if you work hard enough, you’ll succeed.

The cases are not at all. Even Asian-Americans don’t have one common history in this case. Applied across a whole continent, the model minority myth erases the vastly different experiences and needs of our different communities, growing everybody into one box and then slapping a label on it. And just assuming that everybody in that box is more or less alike, it’s a huge disservice to any kind of group.

Southeast Asian refugee communities are still coping with residual trauma from the Vietnam war and other forms of us imperialism. And. Sometimes native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders dealing with the ongoing colonization of their lands are also alum. Hmm, that’s not all, there are a significant percentage of Asian Americans who are without papers, right?

Or without authorization. And that leaves them vulnerable to other kinds of problems. Especially with the government. There are vast segments of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community that struggle with lower rates of high school and college graduation, and higher rates of poverty and incarceration and their needs are invisible because of statistics that lump all Asians today.

But the model minority myth has a firm hold in American pop culture, the Asian student who excels at maths and science, the Asian immigrants who work in Silicon valley, the winners of the spelling bee. So powerful is because it’s about a nonwhite groups by collapsing, all people of color into one group by validating and upholding the comparison.

The model minority myth makes it possible to sweep something else under the rug. The deck is stacks so that white people do have systemic advantages that are passed along from generation to generation. And these advantages allow them to accrue more wealth, have access to more opportunities, and certainly protect them from dangers, such as everyday police violence.

The image of the quiet accommodating Japanese Americans who passively accepted their forest removal. Isn’t actually. As Toyo Mia, Taka and the incarcerate photographers show photos of also documented Japanese American resistance. Here’s Dr. Wu. Again, there were Japanese American Zoot suiters, and it was not something I had heard of had been learning about African-American and Mexican American Zoot suiters.

You know, the kids during world war two, who had a very stylish way of dressing with the long coats and the pig pants and the big hats and the watches and the chains, and they love jazz and jitterbugging war relocation, authority, administrators, and other folks who were trying to resettle Japanese Americans from the.

To Chicago and other places in the Midwest and the east coast, I think because they really stood out. And at that time, what authorities really wanted was for Japanese American re settlers to do the model minority thing, put their head down, blend in, not make trouble. And eventually, literally the goal was that they would fade into the white middle-class.

But just because the WRA had a certain narrative for Japanese Americans doesn’t mean that it’s individual photographers always saw things the same way. Robert Ross was hired in 1944 as an assistant reports. Officer Tooley lake part of his job was taking photos of the segregation center. He documented the abuses happening in the Tuli lake stockade and smuggled the photos out to Wayne Collins, a lawyer who was advocating for the release of the stockade prisoners, the CNC depicts a brutal guards dragging incarcerees by their arms.

People trying to speak to, to say goodbye to loved ones through. Blared images taken in haste and secrecy, heart mountain draft resisters, who we talked about in episode three, also understood the importance of documenting these things. There’s a photo, a shot taken in a Wyoming courtroom in June, 1944.

But the pick 63 young men seated in rows, craning their faces to make sure that they could see the camera. I don’t remember the photo photographer, but, uh, he had this pan around me camera. So he took the picture since we were young young guys. We want to sit in the. See what all action was, you know, it says don’t hide your face, keep it so we can take your face.

So everybody had to Dodge around facing the camera. Takashi Hoshizaki had a feeling that this photo was going to be. It’s very strange because I was in the back row. And then as the guy got ready, somehow something flashed in my mind that says, you know, this picture might be famous about 50 years from now.

And so.

Some of the resistors have their arms crossed in case fearlessly at the camera. Some look down, hands in their laps, some cross their legs, some sit with both feet firmly on the ground. Some are hidden by the head of the person in front of them or by a shack. Some peer of those hats, some laugh, some smile, mechanically, others look serious, still others like deer in headlights.

They’re wearing button down shirts and sweaters and blazers and Letterman jackets. They look a little lopsided as if the camera wasn’t quite straight.

The moment of lens focusing on. Uh, shutter clicks, a photo appears on paper and a chemical bath. These can be moments of resistance. Tomia Mia talking knew this, but a lens without a camera is just a lens. Me to talk. I plan to build his camera at Manson, our suitcase into some lenses and some film holders and put it on the table.

And he was enlisting Archie to help him out. So he says, I’m going to have a cameraman. He found their carpenter and he gave him the measurement so that he could put the film holder and the back of their camera. And then for focusing the lens, there was a auto mechanic that he knew very well. So he asked him if he could make something so he could make the lens go in and out.

And he got an idea of using a drainage. So, what he did was he got the drain pipe and also the round ring that goes around it. So he could screw in this pipe in and out. So my father could focus the image. It was amazing, but then he needed to get film. And for that story, we have to go back to the 1920s to a hardware store that had hired him to take merchandise photos.

They decided to start an in-house photo. And when no longer need me to talk his services, instead of ignoring them, he went to help them set up the photo, even though it meant a loss of revenue for him, as it turns out this hardware company now had a contract with the wr. And the man they sent out to fill the WRS orders was the same man toy Mia Taka had worked with, to build the photo department all those years ago.

And my father found that out. He right away asked if he would get something for him. And this man was very cooperative because my father helped them so much making this for the department. So she said, sure, anytime you want anything, let me know. But getting film wasn’t so easy. Even outside of camp because there was already a ration to each studio, but again, Tomia Taka had a guy.

Well, this man was nice enough to take little bit from all the other studio business. He stadium. And give it to my father. And so that’s how my father was able to get the film. And then the film had to be smuggled into camp. He told my father he’ll have his coat hanging in the hallway when he takes order from the WRA people who will have it in his phone.

And whenever the thing was literally too big, he would leave his trunk of the car, a jar, but me and talk, I couldn’t just walk into the administrative offices and camp. The only way my father get these things was to have one of the policeman and these policemen were all Japanese internees. He knew a few of them.

So he would ask them, go to the administration building. And there’s a coat hanging in the hallway. There’s things in there for me. Did I say this was a secret, so maybe Tomia talk camera. Wasn’t a very well kept secret and people knew that was illegal. So when they have pictures taken, they would keep it quiet so they could have a picture that way.

He was able to keep it a secret in 1943, Ralph merit, the guy who invited Ansul Adams’ demands and our gave Torrio Mia talker permission to open his own photo studio. The merit had one important caveat there, camp directors, as you know, you can’t open a studio because you’re Japanese and we’re instilled in California and Japanese are not allowed to take photograph.

So you have to hire a Caucasian to click the shutter. If that’s okay with you, then you can open your studio. Surely the WRA allowed Japanese-Americans to buy cameras and take photos. And. But that doesn’t always change things even after the ban on cameras is lifted. Given how expensive camera equipment, developing equipment costs, especially during the.

It’s not like suddenly internees are ordering camera equipment and documenting their lives. It did mean Tomia Taka could have his cameras sent to them, giving them more primitive technology, his lunchbox camera. I think he had limited options and what he could photograph and how much technical control he could have.

Overexposures I try to track down the actual photographs he took with the famous lunchbox camera. And in my research, what I found is the scenes that he actually photographed are pretty innocent. Scenic images and they’re extremely benign. It’s the photographs that he was able to take after 1943, when he was able to get his professional equipment sent to him that his work as a camp photographer really takes off.

There was a major threats of ladies getting their hair done, baseball games, class photos. I love the representation of the mundane every day, because for me, they are reminders of Humana. Humanity and also dignity. And I think that that disappears from the big photo archives, but Mia Takei also didn’t shy away from depicting the realities of living behind barbed wire, even though technically taking photos of the guard towers.

And the fence was prohibited in one of his photos, three boys, maybe 10 or 11 years old, Peter crossed the barbed wire. This photo it’s it’s stunning, maybe one of the most stunning photos from this period of history for its inclusion of the mountains in the back, the guard tower, the century tower in the upper right-hand corner and the four strands of barbed wire that divide the photographer from the three.

The three boys are not looking at me, a talkie either. They’re looking through the fence, out into the, the thing that strikes me looking at that photo of the boys gazing wistfully past the fence is that the boys are standing on the same side of the fence. Is the guard tower, the mountains, not the camp in the background.

The photo is titled three boys behind barbed wire, but actually they were on the outside looking. That knowledge bends the premise of the photo. Are they looking out at freedom or looking in at the camp that changed the trajectories of so many lives? The ambiguity of the photo speaks to memory itself at some part of the incarcerees continued to hold onto the fence after they’d left it behind, but also in order to take this photo.

The boys had, who have crossed the fence by the time this photo is taken, rules are certainly much more lax. This would not have been taken in 1942 or even early 43. Again, Mia, Taka. Didn’t totally flaunt the rules. Can you just found ways to bend them? He becomes sort of a documentary photographer of everyday life, the mundane every day in ways that Adam’s archive is really limited.

It’s based on a couple of visits early on in the camp years, and Lang’s archive is even more limited for photographing a very specific early moment. Maybe this is the power of me to talk. Is photos of women getting their hair done juxtaposed with the little boys behind barbed wire, unlike Adams and language.

The tragedy is folded into everyday life and Mia talkies work. And let’s not forget that even in his most mundane, benign photos, we can find an act of resistance, the symbol of Japanese Americans who demanded the right to record and render their experience visible and to create a mark that’s symbol isn’t any one photo that he took a man smell.

It’s the Wednesday

you’ve been listening to compa. Who’s take the time to subscribe, like share review on apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you’re tuning in. We love reading the reviews and hearing your feedback. Or Hey, just pass the word along and a big, big, thank you to everyone. Who’s helped out so far. Visit denture.org/campu for additional resources.

And this episode’s transcript comp was produced by Hannah and Noah. . The series is brought to you by Densho. Their mission is to preserve and share the history of the world war II, incarceration of Japanese Americans to promote equity and justice today. Follow them on. Twitter and Instagram at, at Densho project support for combo comes from the foundation.

Special. Thanks to the Pasha foreigner, Brian, the, uh, Andrea Simon’s dad, Alaina Tajima Crieff T Fu and Ellen for their assistance. With this episode. So it included excerpts from 25 bento oral histories, as well as interviews conducted by Frank obey for this film conscience from the constitution.

the names of the narrators featured in this episode are Archie Mia, Taka mijo Koetsu boy Nakagawa bill Hiroshi, Shima Arturo got me. Henry Sakamoto, Frank Konishi victory. George forgot me. Bill Watanabe, Joe Ishikawa, H G Edward . Dave Tutte SUNO. Ben Tanaka are issued a Lori Sasaki, Carlene co katsu Masa, qui I Arco to-do Tawny Tyra Fukushima, Joyce Okazaki.

Randy sends Zaki Michiko Francis Chica HISA Dave Kawamoto MITs Koshy. And Takashi Hoshizaki. Thanks for listening.

[00:49:09] Miko Lee: This is Miko Lee and I am reading from this book called Dear Ms. Breed, True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During WW II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference. By Joanne Oppenheim. So this is a white woman librarian that was in San Diego. She was a librarian of San Diego library. ‘

Here’s Clara breed herself describing the scene when people were sent away.

The scene was unforgettable. The station was packed. The platform overflowing. But there was no confusion, not a baby cried, not a voice was lifted an irritation or complaint. The boys were dressed in boots and dungarees and plaid shirts while the girls were there, slender figures look dainty and feminine and slacks.

Babies were delectable in soft pink and blue. Well, one little toddler in trousers and coat of bright red looked like an animated doll. The soldiers who seem to have been chosen for their height, towered above the crowds. But there are authoritative was courteous and considerate. And one saw in the faces, honest American interest in the human spectacle and sympathy for the participants. Only at the very last when the procession filled slowly toward the train did one old woman break down and sob uncontrollably.

Margaret Ishino, a high school junior who had known Ms. Breeds since grammar school recalled in an interview that so many of her father’s friends were taken away right after the war broke out, that her father had a suitcase ready to go. When the FBI came to our house, that was a very traumatic experience.

Two agents came. My mother was lying in bed because she had just given birth to my brother. They threw the sheets and blankets off of her. They said maybe she was hiding something in the bed. That’s why they did that. And they took anything that had anything to do with Japanese, anything written in Japanese scrolls? My mother’s things that she had brought from Japan, my father’s books. My father was an avid reader. He loved to read.

They took all his books. Nothing Japanese was left in the house.

August 9th. 1942. Dear miss breed. On Wednesday, the army, not from Frisco though. Ordered our barracks searched for contraband. Previous to this, whenever such an order was issued, we were given bulletins and notified of everything. This however was done abruptly with no reason given and did not give the people a very good attitude toward the search.

Then they closed certain gates and would not allow the people to pass unless they were searched. This too aroused their anger. Then to top that. They began to confiscate things such as scissors and knitting needles as contraband. Then some of the police had the nerve to steal people’s money and also remove things from people’s houses without allowing the occupant to see what was taken.

One policemen in particular aroused the people to such a degree that they began to mob him.

Incidentally a Korean man was leading the men in their raid. Many people had grievances against him before, as he was claimed to be a stool pigeon. Unfortunately, the mob of people were so aroused that they chased him and beat him with chairs. This was wrong, but a mad mob is very hard to control. Incidentally, this led to the discovery of liquor smuggling and jailing of some of the stewards of the mess hall. The army took control for three days and everything was at a standstill.

We and also the army were glad they finally moved out. The newspapers did not give this version, but that’s the way we saw it. Just a few days before the incident, we were all craving for excitement, but now that it’s over, we’re glad that it’s over. Once again thank you for the candy and book if you have time please write to me sometime sincerely Fusa Tsumagari.

Clara Breed’s sister Eleanor lived up in Berkeley and worked at a church. And she also received letters from students. Here’s one of the letters that she received about that very same day. Today, the spark light of the fuse, which exploded into a fury of violence for the first time, the camp actually experienced mob violence. This outbreak all started by the searching of each unit by arm demand of all personal belongings with utter disrespect for individuals involved uncouth treatment of individuals, plus theft by those making the investigation created a frenzy in the camp.

A huge mob of infuriated people gathered to ask for the reasons for such a doings frightened by the large crowd and excited by pointed questions, directed to him. The investigator drew his gun and threatened to shoot anyone who might molest him. This threat lit the fuse, which angered the crowd to the extent that flying fists were not uncommon.

The investigator was not hurt physically. However, I do believe there was some change of attitude of this gentlemen. Another man was hurt from this outbreak. There has been a drastic shakeup in the administration

Many of the incarcerated folks that I’ve talked to have often mentioned people of conscience, people that were not afraid to take a stand. And it really seems like Clara Breed was one of those people. Here is a letter that she actually wrote to the assistant district attorney on behalf of one of the fathers of one of the students that was incarcerated.

August 7th. 1942. My dear Mr. Palmer. Mr. Hirasaki has lived in the United States since 1901. His children were born here Tetsuzo, the boy being over 21 now, and the ICO, the girl, a graduate of high school. In all the time I have known them. Mr. Hirasaki has been both father and mother to the children, and he has done a far better piece of work and raising his family than has done by two parents in many families.

Since I have been supervising librarian of the children’s department of the San Diego public library for the last 13 years, I speak with feeling. The children are thoroughly American loyal to our government, intelligent, hardworking fine citizens of whom we can be proud. The family has been scattered since Mr. Hirasaki’s internment, since it seemed wise to them to place the daughter in a family who could chaperone and protect her. If Mr. Hirasaki could be sent to Santa Anita, the family could become a unit again before they’re moved to a relocation center. I believe it is the humane thing to do. And I believe also that the government would run no risk of disloyalty from his family.

If Tetsuzo had not been a tubercular lesion in his right arm, he would have been serving in our armed forces. At the time Mr. Hirasaki was arrested. I wanted to appear at his behalf, but hearings were not held here as you know, I understand that Mr. Hirasaki has never been a member of a Japanese society. And I know he has never taken his family to visit Japan.

Since the charges against him, show no evidence of subversive activities. I strongly urge that he be released from Bismarck and allowed to join his son and daughter in Santa Anita. Please feel free to investigate my reputation for truthfulness and honor by contacting miss Cornelia de Playster had librarian of the San Diego public library or the American library association at five 20 north Michigan avenue, Chicago. Very sincerely Clara E breed.

[00:56:39] Miko Lee: thank you so much for joining us. Please check out our website, kpfa.org backslash program, backslash apex express to find out more about the show tonight and to find out how you can take direct action. We thank all of you listeners out there. Keep resisting, keep organizing, keep creating and sharing your visions with the world. Your voices are important. Apex express is produced by Miko Lee Jalena Keane-Lee and Paige Chung and special editing by Swati Rayasam. Thank you so much to the KPFA staff for their support have a great night.


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