Except replace ‘Chink’ with ‘Jap’ and now I can begin.
Cold Case. One of those cop shows with a twist, because it takes cases left unsolved, and solves them years later. I like how they do the flashbacks of present time and past, so you can see who the people were and how they are now. Anyways. I was watching an episode yesterday, that really hit me in two ways. The first way is in relation to the Japanese detainment camps during World War II and the Anti-Japanese sentiment that was expressed especially after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The storyline follows the lives of a Japanese American family (2nd & 3rd generation) and how their lives were affected by the detainment camps, and ultimately how it tore their families apart. I won’t go scene by scene, but I’ll list the points that hit me the most.
- The dad (Japanese American) was full of American pride. Even when he entered the detainment camps, he still supported America 100%. He even went around encouraging the other Japanese American men in the camps to enlist in the Army and serve America. He was so pro-America, he ignored the fact that the American soldiers called him a Jap, referred to him as the enemy, belittled him, etc. he never wavered until the end, when he saw just how much this affected this family and him after the war. Oh and he ends up dead. Guess who killed him? (moving on.)
- The son, who was 3rd generation, is even more removed from his Japanese culture. As an American, he felt this immense frustration with this concept of being Japanese American. He was in no way tied to the Japanese culture, but because of the color of his skin, the Americans didn’t even recognize him as one of their own. An artist, he would sketch a lot of the scenes around the camp, and as his dad was going around with his Pro-American, let’s go enlist hoorah, he showed his dad his pictures and said, “is this what we’re fighting for? Is this what freedom is supposed to be?” Later on he goes, “Why should I fight for a country that doesn’t even care about me. Like they say, ‘Once a Jap, always a Jap, right dad?’”. In the end, he ends up enlisting, and in a posthumous letter received by his dad, we learn that the reason why he did, was so he could fight for real freedom for the people that were unable to fight for it themselves. (And…of course he died in the war).
So let’s clear the air before moving forward. I do not relate to these two characters, mostly because I am not male, Japanese, or from World War II and around a time where Civil Rights was just a dream.
Okay. First of all. Thank you, Cold Case for making this one of your episodes. People that know me, know that my biggest frustration with U.S. history is that it breezes over, if not ignores Asian American history. As a 2nd generation Chinese American, I really hated history because I never related to it. I didn’t have relatives in the original settlers. My ancestors weren’t killed off and pushed onto reservations. My forefathers were not shipped over against their will on slave boats. My family is from China. My grandparents, my parents, they are Chinese. And yet, I am American. I was born in this country, raised in this country, and live in this country. Funny how, even though I’m American, I could never feel 100% American growing up. Being caught between my American culture and my parent’s Chinese culture, I found out really early that for the rest of my life, to the majority of America, once a Chink, always a Chink. In this country, I will never be viewed as 100% American. Funny, because in China, I am not considered 100% Chinese. It makes it difficult to pledge 100% support and loyalty for a country that does not even care about me, and in a lot of times I feel like I’m either the father or the son from the episode. On one side I’m sucking it up amongst all the racial slurs and ignorant remarks, just to prove how American I am. If I just smile and take it, I can prove to them I’m not what they think of me. But on the other hand, I can’t just sit back and do nothing. That’s why I get so mad when people are ignorant towards me, around me, or about me. It’s not even about me. It’s about educating and calling out people to let them know it’s not okay to speak that way towards other people. Whether we’re black, asian, hispanic, middle eastern, south east asian, etc., we are people that deserve just as much respect as the next person. We are not lesser because of the color of our skin, or because of the language we speak, or because of the cultures of our forefathers.
I mean America is the land of the free, but is this what freedom looks like? 2012, and we are still slaves to the color of our skin? Not that I’m going to give up, but I’m not sure what this fight looks like. One thing is for sure, I will do whatever I can to make sure that (God willing) when I bring children into this world, they can grown up in a country that doesn’t see them as a color, or a foreigner, or a diversity quota filler. I pray that my children can grow up in a country where they are viewed as people, and not just some Chink.
[pt. 2 to come later]Posted 9 months ago with 1 note