May 2021 Newsletter
Sunday July 11: San Jose Obon is virtual again this year. Click here for more information.
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An Interview with Frank Abe
Upon the Release of His New Book
“WE HEREBY REFUSE: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration”
Interviewed by Leonard Chan
Hello Frank. Congratulations on your new book.
I’ve seen quite a number of books on the Japanese American Internment. Your book was able to take a new perspective on the subject. When George Takei’s book came out, I was really impressed with how much he was able to cover in a graphic memoir. I began to wonder how the subject could be covered in some new way – I think you’ve done it.
Thanks Leonard, that means a lot coming from an avid reader like you. I admit it was bold to bill this as “the story of camp as you’ve never seen it before,” but from the early reader response it feels as if the message is getting across. The Seattle Times just called it a “page-turner.” There’s a “we” in the title by design. This is not the story of just one person. “We hereby refuse” was the phrase by which the Fair Play Committee at Heart Mountain crossed the line from protest to resistance, but in our title the “we” takes on a second meaning as the collective cry of all those targeted solely on the basis of race, whether or not they took action or spoke out.
First of all, how would you describe your book – is it a graphic novel, graphic biography, or graphic memoir? Could it also be classified as historical fiction?
We Hereby Refuse is a dramatic story based on true events. Every line on every page is drawn from the historical record. That’s by design. Even where we must reconstruct private conversations between two people, every line is true to the moment and to their character.
The truth was far more compelling than anything we could invent. It’s not fiction, but it reads with the depth and texture of a good novel, a novel with drawings.
I first saw a preview of your book at the 2018 Tule Lake Pilgrimage and became excited about it, especially since it was partially about someone that I knew (Hiroshi Kashiwagi). Tell us about how this book came about. When did you first start thinking about doing this book?
Is AAPI What We’re Settling On?
A Rose by Any Other Name Would Still Make Us Americans
An editorial by Leonard Chan
Hey, when did we switch to AAPI to describe ourselves? Suddenly, AAPI is being used everywhere. How did this come about and why?
So here’s my problem with AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) – in all the places that I’ve seen AAPI, it’s used to describe Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. By placing the word American after only Asian, Pacific Islanders become non-specific to the Americans that the term is trying to describe.
Perhaps I’m splitting hairs, but this is similar to an issue that has bothered me for a long while. Back in May of 2009, I wrote a short piece complaining about how people were leaving out the word “American” to describe “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month” (APAHM).
In the case of APAHM, the word American was vital in that the month was created to “bring to the attention of the American people the contributions that Asian/Pacific Americans have made to this Nation.” (Reported to House from the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service with amendment, H. Rept. 95-1335)
By leaving out the word American in describing Pacific Islanders in AAPI are we slighting their contribution to America and reaffirms the image of their foreignness?
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General Literature - Biographies and Memoirs
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