Blood, Disability, and the Meanings of Japanese American Citizenship in World War II


– Under the guidance of series coordinator and Professor of English,
Dr. Susan Jacobowitz, who many of you know as well, and with the help of Dr. Arthur Flug and Miss Marisa Berman of Queensborough’s Kupferberg Holocaust
Research Center and Archives, I’ve organized three
disabilities focused events for my portion of this year’s series. My first event revolves
around the documentary film Liebe Perla, which explored
the transnational friendship of two women with disabilities, Hannelore, a German researcher, and Perla, a Holocaust survivor. Dr. Simi Linton and Mr.
Christian von Tippelskirch set up and provided comments
on that documentary. In her comments during that first event, Dr. Linton encouraged
attendees to think about the various, excuse me, ways
in which definitions and images of disability have been
used in the United States. Today’s event, the second of my three, picks up on this idea. In just moments, we will
benefit from the insights of Dr. Sarah Chinn, who
will deliver a talk titled Blood, Disability, and the
Meanings of Japanese American Citizenship in World War II. Dr. Chinn is an Associate
Professor of English at Hunter College. She received her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature
from Columbia University. Her work primarily
explores questions of race, sexuality, and gender in
US literature and culture, particularly in the 19th century. She’s the author of two books, Technology and the Logic
of American Racism: a cultural history of
the body as evidence, and Inventing Modern Adolescence: the children of immigrants in
turn of the century America. She has also published
numerous scholarly articles on 19th century US literature, gender, and sexuality, and disability studies. Dr. Chinn is currently
working on two book length manuscripts, one on
representations of masculinity on the early American stage,
and the other on amputation as a trope for national and
personal loss in the Civil War. Please, if you will, hold
your comments and questions until after the talk,
and also please join me in welcoming Dr. Chinn
here to Queensborough. (audience applauding) – Thank you, and thanks
so much for coming. I know it is a very busy time of year. So this is actually, it’s interesting, I went back to my first
book to kind of pull the material for this talk today. But then thought about
how I would use the same material from a disability perspective. So it was really interesting
for me to do this. So I’ll be really glad to
hear what you have to say. Okay, so I’m gonna get started. In the United States in the 1940s, something happened to blood. More than one thing and
on more than one level. What people could and would do with blood was changing, both literally
and metaphorically. The literal changes are
fairly easy to trace. The advances in blood
transfusion technology, the development of
reconstitutable dried plasma, new analyses of anemia, among
other biotechnological work. The metaphorical cultural
changes are a little more difficult to identify,
and in my talk today I’d like to examine a few of them. In particular, I’ll be
discussing the enlisting of blood and blood
donation into an emerging discourse of American
citizenship and who that status newly included. American Jews, in the
example I’ll be looking at, and who it excluded, African Americans, who are actually a big part of the chapter from the book that I’m talking about here, but I’m not going to talk about today. And who I am going to be
talking about in detail, Japanese Americans. Blood as a metaphor for
racial identity works most powerfully when it cannot be seen. In a world in which blood
cannot be scrutinized outside the body. The very invisibility of
blood in the years after slavery, for example,
made it a potent symbol. The one drop rule argued
that race was not what was on the inside but
rather it was constituted in the most basic unit of
human life, the blood itself. It summons up the image of a unassimalable blob of blackness, the
one drop, that continually circulates through the blood stream. Something that can be
identified as separate from the millions of other drops and that overpowers them rather
than being diluted by them. This way of imagining race
was profoundly undermined by the development of blood
transfusion technology. Once blood could be
stored outside the body, examined microscopically,
typed by elements rather than by racial
categories and transferred not just from one body to another, but from body to test
tube and bottle to body. The conflation of racial and blood purity could not be sustained. And the discovery of type
O, the universal donor type, shredded white supremacist
fantasies about the literal entity of white blood. This issue became pressing in the 1940s as blood took on another meaning, one directly related
to the intense need for blood donation on the Pacific
and European war fronts. Ironically, World War II
could not have come at a better time as far as blood
technology was concerned. An array of information
about drawing, classifying, storing and administering
whole blood and plasma was settling into place by 1941 and was indispensable to the Allied war effort. In what follows, I want
to trace a few of the roots that the discourse of
blood took during this period. One is the concerted campaign
by the American Red Cross to represent blood donation
as the highest form of home front citizenship, a
campaign that unfortunately was marred by the ARC’s
labeling and segregation of blood from black and white donors. And these two interrelated
policies threw into sharp focus the ways in
which a de-racialized discourse of blood could both undermine and underlie white supremacy. The second is the uneasy
relationship between blood, citizenship,
loyalty, and able bodiedness that characterized the discourse around Japanese American internment
and it’s exemplified in John Okada’s 1957 novel, No-No Boy, which I’m gonna be talking
about in some detail. While I have time only
to outline my arguments, I hope to show that blood
was a labile and powerful symbol during the war years. All, of course, in the
shadow of the unambiguous language of blood purity
that suffused Nazi Germany. I won’t go into the
details of the ARC’s blood donor service except to say that it was a major effort on the home front. By 1942, there were 35
fixed donation centers in major cities, from
Buffalo to San Antonio, Boston to Los Angeles, and 63 mobile units to service neighboring towns. The need was large. By the end of 1943, the Army
and Navy were projecting a need of 70,000 pints of blood per week. The first priority of
the blood donor service, the BDS, was to flood
the popular media with positive images of blood donations. From magazines to radio
to movies to posters. Enterprising publicity
writers crafted whole editorials and interviews
already pre-scripted for newspapers and
radio, provided tips for fashioning day to day
stories about blood centers, and created sample newspaper releases and spontaneous op ed pieces with blanks to be filled in for regional specificity. Movie studios inserted
references to blood donation in both commercial and
government sponsored productions with a direct message. Give blood or our boys die. The BDS publicity campaign
was wildly successful and media attention on blood
donation centers was constant. Donations outstripped the
need to almost 111,000 pints per week by January of 1944. And I’d argue that a
large part of its success was its representation
of blood donation as an outgrowth of diverse but single
minded American democracy, encapsulated in the phrase,
from every walk of life. So donors from every walk of life, citizens from every walk of life, Americans from every walk of life flood the donation centers. The patriotism of giving
blood was represented in a variety of ways,
always channeled through the ideal of democratic
mutuality between donor and recipient and among donors. This mutuality of
American identity extended to the Red Cross itself. A 1944 Red Cross movie
trailer produced by the War Activities Committee
featured a report from Humphrey Bogart at the front. Bogie, an appealing every
man himself, hammers home the importance of the blood donor service, calling plasma, quote, “that
gift of blood to our men.” More significantly, Bogart
constructs a sense of reciprocity between the
armed forces, the Red Cross, and the trailer’s viewers,
since, and this is Bogart, the Red Cross is at their
side and the Red Cross is you. This interrelation that
the BDS constructed among civilian Americans,
our boys in the military, and the Red Cross itself,
was a building block in a larger edifice. A discourse of American
citizenship that was at once deeply democratic and
profoundly discriminatory, as the Red Cross itself
was in its segregation of racialized blood. The repeated claim that donors
were from all walks of life and its servicemen were our
boys constructed a sense of American citizenship
that was both praiseworthy and exceptional and at
the same time unmarked and unexamined. It was not that Americans
were a nation of super humans. Rather to be an American
was to be most fully human. So that American
ordinariness was another form of human excellence. A striking example of
this is an episode of The Nation’s Press Women
Speak, which was an ongoing, excuse me, radio
forum that in February 1943 dealt with the issue of blood donation. The participants were high
powered newspaper women from the Washington Post,
the Associated Press, and the International News Service. The host, INS reporter Lee
Carson, introduces this evening’s topic as quotes,
“the kind of story that “every reporter likes to write. “It’s a hero story, the
story of real Americans.” You cannot make this stuff up. Mary Spargo of the
Washington Post takes up the theme of exceptionalism
and American identity, and she says, “To me,
the blood donor program “is the greatest and most
triumphant expression “of the patriotism and will to victory “of the American people,” close quotes. The participants don’t
dwell on the nobility of blood donation, however. They shift to its democratic qualities. As Lee Carson explains,
quote, “the privilege of “donation isn’t limited to any
class or group of Americans. “Brooklyn housewives,
Hoosiers from Indiana, “Hollywood glamour girls,
and Boston fishermen, “busboys and big shots,
debutantes and dowagers, “rich and poor, all are marching
to blood donor centers.” Blood donation, in this
case, is for everyone and represents not simply a gift, but participation in
the fight for democracy. When Jane Eads, another
of the speakers of the Associated Press asserts,
quotes, “All of us in “good health can well
afford a pint of blood.” Lee Carson responds,
“That sort of makes it a “democratic contribution.” Carson’s assertion effortlessly
connects able bodiedness, democratic subjectivity,
and American exceptionalism. The final piece of this
puzzle is the one that’s never explicitly spoken, but
that undergirded both the ARC’s blood donation efforts
and the consolidation of ideas about American identity in
the 20th century, whiteness. As many scholars have
shown, the absorption of non Anglo whites into
the imagined community of American whiteness took
place during the same period, most notably Jews and
Italians, who as late as the 1930s were imagined as
racially other from the Nordics, that is, legitimately white, as they became white folks,
as the Irish had before them. The Brooklyn housewives
Carson invokes were those ethnic others. And Brooklyn here, always in the 1940s, means Jews and Italians, always. Who through blood donation
and other civic works could be counted as making quote,
“a democratic contribution.” In this new vision of the American polity, whiteness and able bodiedness,
coded here as health, were the prerequisites
for their hero story, the story of real Americans. Moreover, just as blood
donation was also a miracle of modern science, the
democratic, civically responsible American was also a product of modernity, whose actions remade
America again and again. A text that interrogates
these intersection of blood, citizenship, and able
bodiedness and modernity and America identity is
an amazing novel called Wasteland that was published in 1946. A little read novel by
Jo Sinclair, which is a pseudonym for Jewish
American novelist Ruth Seid. Wasteland is a fascinating and moving text that confronts the
alienation of photojournalist John Brown, nee Jake
Braunowitz, and his eventual recovery through the
help of a psychiatrist, sessions with whom make
up the frame of the novel. So Jake hates himself and his family, particularly because they’re Jews. He understands himself
through racialized metaphors of blood and genealogy,
both of which he attempts to escape through
alcoholism, the separation of home and work lives, affairs
with non-Jewish women, and emotional distancing from his family. However, and this is in his mind, quote, “Nothing had not done any good. “Changing his name had not done it. “Drinking had not, nor the
things he did evenings.” He cannot flee his blood. The novel’s challenge is how to integrate the genealogical blood identity of Judaism to the fraternal identity
of American citizenship. Wasteland follows Jake’s
emotional recovery, a process that’s facilitated
by his younger sister, Debbie. She’s a writer for the WPA. And Ruth Seid was a leftist organizer, so the fact that Debbie’s with the WPA is kind of, you know, meaningful. She’s firmly opposed to their
brother, the third brother, the second brother, sorry,
Sig’s casual racism. She’s a lesbian and a
heroic figure in the novel. Debbie is secure enough
if her American identity to speak Yiddish with her parents, but is not marked
physically by Jewishness. She looks to Jake like a Gentile boy. At his first job, Jake
gives an Anglicized name, John Brown, a name that was quote, “Beautiful, it was as
American looking, as anonymous “as any name he could think of.” For Sinclair, the choice
of this anonymous American name is a way for Jake
to radically separate the quote, “something inside his
blood” from the professional identity he constructs for himself. And both cause and
effect of his alienation from himself and everything around him. The text insists on
Jake’s genealogy by using the name his family gave him, Jake, rather than the name he
chooses for himself, John, or the diminutive that
his sister Debbie and his coworkers use, Jack. Jake’s self hatred bursts
into his consciousness at a family Seder when it’s 15. Previously, the Seder
had been a high point of the year for him, an
event full of spiritual and emotional connection. Particularly important
to him was the recitation of the Ma Nishtana, the four questions, which he as the youngest son would chant. And then this is his
stream of consciousness. “Oh beautiful, Jake thought. “Oh mysterious of God and
of life that is handed “down through the thousands of years. “And my voice has to come
now, the way it’s written “that the youngest son has
to talk at this second. “Me, Jake, I have a place in
this story,” close quotes. The shift from reverence and connection to scorn and disgust occurs
when Jake completes the four questions and looks around
at the rest of his family. Quote, “It struck him
with an appalling clarity “that they had not been listening. “The prayers were being
uttered mechanically, “a sing song reading of
one word after another, “one automatic phrase after
another,” close quotes. And at that moment, Jake’s
family life is revealed to him to be, this is him, “a damn lie.” And he thinks about his father, right. “Was that the way it was to be a Jew, “to be like his father in every day life, “then to sit at the Seder table like the “patriarch of old, dignified, praying. “It was a lie.” Close quotes. Jake positions his father’s
stinginess and emotional emptiness in brutal
contrast to the richness of Jewish tradition. The knowledge that quote, “his
father was a dirty stranger “and his mother a frightened,
sad, incapable woman.” “That his older brother
was a stranger with “bored, cold eyes, and that his sister,” Not Debbie, another sister. “Was overly rouged and her flesh
restless for he knew what.” Close quotes. Drives him to a knee jerk anti-Semitism, the belief that quotes,
“If his father was a Jew, “then by God, all Jews
were like his father, “and he, Jake, would not
be a Jew,” close quotes. Set in diametrical opposition to Jewishness is Americanness. Whereas being Jewish is,
quote, “dirty and rotten, “stingy illiterate,” as his father is, being American is quotes,
“strength and cleanliness.” A transparent identity that does not have to explain itself. For Jake, Americanness
is an alchemical compound of untrammeled identity
and complete anonymity, being most yourself and
being at the same time most like everyone else. He feels excluded from
American identity by the conspicuous Jewishness of
his name, and by association of his parents. His life feels contingent,
unsettled, because he cannot commit to his
genealogy, Jewishness, nor feel admitted to an
effortless quasi-Christian American identity. Quotes, “nothing was regular with him, “habit or custom or breakfast
at home or even Christmas, “wonderful thing celebrated by
all the others at the office. “He always received gifts, sure, “but he knew all the time
it wasn’t his holiday. “See, there again he was
different from everybody else.” And I hope that you also
hear in this strength and cleanliness this white
American able bodiedness. Jake can only fully realize his fantasy of belonging when he can
reconcile, sorry, his sense of ethnic otherness
with the anonymous, neutral, transparent
Americanism to which he aspires. This integration also
puts him on the road to psychological able bodiedness. While he’s physically
able, his ambivalence and conflict create emotional
damage, which for the novel is as debilitating
as physical impairment. The transition from
neurosis to mental health, from self hatred to self
esteem, from anti-Semitism to empathy for his family, culminates in two acts of volunteering. First, to donate blood. And second, to enlist in the Army. It’s his sister, Debbie,
our WPA lesbian hero, who suggests that Jake
accompany her to the Red Cross donor center. Like newspaper journalists
all over the country in the mid ’40s, Jake
has been to the donor center in a professional capacity. Quote, “To take pictures
of people giving blood. “It made swell art,” close quotes. But he has not participated himself. For Jake, giving blood
constructs him as the ordinary American he has fantasized being. Unique and anonymous, both
indivisible and singular. As he says to his psychiatrist, quote, “You give blood, you
give your blood,” sorry. “You couldn’t give anything better. “Why, say they couldn’t
take anything from you “that you give them on your
own that’s more valuable, “that’s more you,” close quotes. For Jake, giving blood
is a way to be quote, “Like any guy in America.” Debbie has given blood three times before, but she’s not forgotten, quote, “how I felt the first
time, awfully jittery. “To give a pint of your
blood, well, to the world. “I felt at one with
everybody, just everybody.” For Debbie, giving blood
is a reciprocal process, from her to the world, and
from everybody back to her. Debbie is particularly inspired
by the fact that quote, “10,000 people are doing the same thing “everywhere in America,” close quotes. Creating a community of mutual cooperation in a national project. And she sees her donation
gaining her admission into a modern kind of
democratic citizenship, a populism that can embrace Americans from all walks of life. So we’re seeing this
language again and again and again, right, in the blood donation, in movies, in this novel. So she says, “I feel as
if I’m giving it for the “Jews too, Jews like Ma,
who never had a break. “And I’m giving a pint for the Negroes. “It’s like giving your
blood against any kind of “segregation there is in the world. “Anybody who is slapped
in the face, laughed at, “pushed into a corner of society. “They can have my blood,” close quotes. Jake’s feelings about
giving blood are filtered through his psychiatrist’s
notes, the vehicle Sinclair uses to summarize and synthesize the changes Jake experiences
throughout the novel. So this really weird
image where he sees his blood dissolved into
a vat of Americanness. Quote, and this is the
psychiatrist speaking. “In offering his blood,
Jake feels strengthened. “Jewish blood in his mind,
not long ago a despised thing, “has been accepted and
now flows into the mixture “of American blood. “Jake has given his blood. “He gave as a Jew and as
a patriot to some degree. “But most important, he gave
as every man,” close quotes. Jake’s difference is
erased by his acceptance by the Red Cross, which is
psychiatrist, as the ARC itself did, identifies with quotes, “The world, America at war.” Sitting in the blood
center, he has, quote, “A strange feeling. “His blood would merge
anonymously with the cities, “the countries, and then with
the world,” close quotes. He’s also given, quotes, “As Jake Brown, “the name he writes on his donor card.” These two names, Jewish and American, have merged to construct
a new identify for him. And after the bleeding
is over, he asked Debbie to call him Jake rather
than Jack, a sign that his Jewishness has been
robbed of its psychic power over him and he
can now be emotionally as well as politically
and culturally whole. Now, Jews are simply one
of the many walks of life from which blood donors come. Far from being alien, they
have in Jake’s imagination been domesticated, made
able bodied, subsumed under the larger indivisible label of America. But the assimilability of his Jewish blood is an assimilability that Debbie refuses. Despite her feeling of
oneness, she sees this immersion in an
undifferentiated Americanism as, in fact, and as it
was, undergirding a system of segregation that she deplores. So she says, I’m giving
my blood against every kind of segregation there can be. The same act that bestows
modern citizenship upon white donors enters
their blood into quote, “the mixture of American
blood,” close quotes, is transformed in
meaning by racialization. And Debbie reveals that quote,
“where we’re going now,” the blood center “they keep
Negro and white blood separate.” And this was a policy of
the American Red Cross to racially segregate
white and black blood. “Isn’t it amazing, she says. “They make little ghettos
for a thing like blood. “When I give my pint, Jack,
it’s against that too. “Someday they’ll know they
can’t do a thing like that. “Part of my blood will show
them someday,” close quotes. Debbie imagines her
blood affecting a kind of cultural transformation
in the veins of the people who receive it. Her blood will show the
nameless, faceless people whose lives it will save
that segregation is wrong by successfully integrating into them. Her difference like the
one drop will maintain its integrity, even as it
combines with the blood of any number of others. So Wasteland works through
the thematics of blood donation that the
publicists at the Red Cross blood donor service devoted
four years to establishing. Blood is a sign of active and unambiguous American citizenship. Blood donation is an act
of community with both the rest of the American
public and the armed forces. The Red Cross itself is
a conduit for the union of donor and recipient. But as much as the novelist
Jo Sinclair wants to represent blood donation and its, to Jake, inevitable corollary
volunteering for active duty. So first you volunteer
your blood and then you volunteer your whole body into active duty in the armed services. And as a heroic act of
American ordinariness that can change the life
of the donor as much as or here psychologically more
than the life of the recipient. Debbie’s deep ambivalence
about the racial politics of blood banking disrupts
this utopian idea. Debbie may have been
instrumental to Jake’s blood donation, but she also
complicates its meaning. Just as Sinclair
introduces the symbolics of giving blood, only to
unsettle the economy of citizenship she herself proposes. Indeed, the Red Cross’s
segregation of blood into white and colored both
disturbs and affirms the new language of blood as citizenship, as American identity. Okay, so in the final
section of my talk today, I want to complicate
these terms of citizenship and able bodiedness and their
channeling through whiteness. While discourses of blood
and citizenship were crucial to changes in European and
African American identities in the 1940s and to the
restating of and resistance to Jim Crow during the war
years, no discussion of the relationship between
race, blood, and citizenship during this period can
go without an analysis of the evacuation and internment
of Japanese Americans on the west coast between 1942 and 1945. And then I’m just gonna
give a brief history of that, very brief. Okay, so the US government
through the agency of the western command
under General John DeWitt ordered 110,000 American
citizens of Japanese descent from their homes
in California, Western Washington and Oregon,
and Northern Arizona, imprisoned them in
assembly centers, and then remanded them to quote,
“relocation centers,” which was a euphemism
for concentration camps, often in barren, windswept
areas in the Western desert. As historians of Japanese
settlement in the US have shown, the story of
internment is in many ways simply an intensification
of the anti Japanese racism that plagued Japanese
American communities throughout the west coast. And we see this in the
history of every genocide. It’s not like people suddenly went, hey, we hate these people, let’s kill them all. The genocide is always a culmination of a much larger and longer
lasting set of discrimination and prejudice and
subordination of that group. And we see this here
with the internment of Japanese Americans. It’s not like everyone
loved Japanese Americans and then suddenly they
said, let’s round them up. There was a distrust of
and discrimination against Japanese Americans that
made this possible, made it imaginable. Okay, so this starts in, in fact, 1790 when the first act of Congress is to restrict naturalization to white people. So only white people can
become citizens of the United States if they’re
originally from somewhere else, which shut out the
Japanese who came to the US 100 years later as immigrants. And then in 1913, the
Alien Land Act prevented aliens not eligible for
citizenship from owning land effectively excluding Japanese immigrants. Then in 1922, the Supreme
Court formally affirmed the Congressional
restriction on naturalization in Ozawa vs. the USA,
and by 1924, Congress had passed the Japanese
Exclusion Act, which severely limited Japanese immigration. Given the restrictions
on American citizenship for issei, which are
first generation Japanese, second generation Japanese, nisei, were in a peculiar position. Born in the United States,
they immediately acquired the rights of US citizenship. At the same time, the Japanese
rule of jus sanguinis, which means the right of
the blood, accorded them Japanese nationality as well. White observers of nisei
culture often remarked on their quote, “pathetic
eagerness to be Americans,” close quotes, while the
safe, self appointed nisei leadership rejected the language of blood, which gave them Japanese nationality, and embraced American citizenship that was denied their parents. The first Japanese American organization, The Loyalty League, was formed in 1919 and decided not to use the
word Japanese in its name so as to downplay its origins. It was not until the
1930s that a variety of west coast nisei groups
coalesced in to the Japanese American Citizens League. The first nisei organization
to include the word Japanese in its name. As the names of these groups demonstrate, second generation Japanese
Americans were well aware of the stakes of citizenship. Not least because their
parents were so limited by the prohibition on
their naturalization. The bombing of Pearl Harbor,
of course, exacerbated this tension between issei
exclusion from citizenship and nisei embracing of it. On December 7 and 8, Roosevelt
issued executive orders 2525 and 2526, restraining
German, Italian, or Japanese nationals from
communicating with or aiding the enemy and
confiscated firearms and cameras, restricted travel,
and limited membership in nationalist organizations. However, attention soon
shifted away from German and Italian aliens and
onto the Japanese alone. On February 19, 1942,
the president promulgated executive order 9066, which
gave the secretary of war the power to declare any
regions of the country military areas. And this is the quotation from the order. “From which any or all
persons may be excluded “and with respect to which
the right of any person “to enter, remain in, or
leave shall be subject “to whatever restrictions
the secretary of war “or the appropriate military commander “may pose in his
discretion,” close quotes. Then the next day, secretary
of war Henry Stimson handed over control of the
western defense command, which encompassed the Pacific coast, to Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt. And within two weeks,
DeWitt had proclaimed the entire west coast, all of California, Western Washington, Western Oregon, sorry, Northern Arizona to be a military area. He then imposed a curfew on
Italian and German nationals and all west coast residents
of Japanese descent, about of whom 2/3 were nisei. So they’re actually American citizens. And between March and
November of the same year, began issuing proclamations to quote, “evacuate” all Japanese
Americans from western military areas to assembly centers, and finally, to relocation centers further into the country’s interior. DeWitt is a fascinating
though odious character. In the official documents
in which we hear his voice, his contempt and
disgust for people of Japanese descent are broadcast clearly. At stake in the evacuation
was, according to DeWitt, the impossibility of
determining Japanese, quote, “loyalty,” and I think we
can see this very similarly with the language around
Muslim Americans today. I just want you to
listen for these echoes. Quotes, and this is DeWitt,
“American citizenship does “not necessarily determine loyalty.” In his pronunciamentos,
DeWitt tangles up race, citizenship, nationality,
loyalty, and identity, contradicting himself but always returning to the same conclusion. The Japanese cannot be trusted. On the one hand, he’s
forced to admit that the majority of Japanese evacuees
were, quote, this is him, “American born, had been
through American schools, “had not developed
Oriental thought patterns,” whatever those are, “Or
had been subjected to “so called Japanese
culture,” close quotes. On the other hand,
DeWitt needed to believe in the total unassimilation
of even US born Japanese Americans, that
they could not function as real American citizens. In this same report,
he claimed that, quote, “The Japanese race is an enemy race. “And while many second
and third generation “Japanese born of United
States soil possessed “of United States citizenship
have become, quote, “Americanized, the racial
strains are undiluted,” close quotes. So in DeWitt’s telling,
Japaneseness is a kind of disability, a congenital disorder that can never be healed. For DeWitt, there is
something that the Japanese, however Americanized
they might be, whether citizens or not, cannot achieve. And that lack makes them a threat. The name he gives to
this quality is loyalty. By shifting the argument
for internment away from citizenship, which
would raise the issue of habeas corpus and
constitutional rights, to loyalty, DeWitt creates
a kind of conditional citizenship, one that
cannot speak for itself. Nisei are, in his words,
citizens of Japanese blood, which is itself a working contradiction, given the technologies of citizenship functioning in the 1940s. Whose status as citizens
is compromised and hence must be undergirded by
more than just the fact of having a US passport. So the disability of
Japaneseness trumps the health and able bodiedness
of American citizenship. The argument for nisei
removal and internment depended upon the assumption
that their embodiment as citizens had less
integrity than that of other Americans. By dint of being Japanese,
they were condemned to an economy of genealogy,
closed off from the identity of citizenship. The transformation of blood
from a sign of genealogy vertically inheritable
within a closed group of parents and children
into a sign of citizenship horizontally transferable
through modern scientific advances from any one citizen or another, in other words, parentage
versus blood donation, could not be extended
to Japanese Americans. Under the terms of removal and internment, nisei were no longer citizens but instead the term was used non-aliens. They were both separable
from the citizenry as a group and
unrecognizable as individuals within that group. The opposite of the ideal, that is, of the typical American citizen. The JACL, the Japanese
American Citizenship League, believed that the best
response to DeWitt’s argument that racial strains incapacitated loyalty was simply more in
affirmations of how loyal Japanese Americans were. They requested tests that
could measure loyalty, the separation of the
loyal from the disloyal, the admission of the loyal
into the armed services. Needless to say, this
was a losing argument, because once you racialize
loyalty, it’s all over. Japanese Americans’
opportunity to prove their loyalty came in 1943,
when the selective service administration opened
up the draft for nisei. Part of the lengthy form,
there were two questions that asked whether they
were willing to serve in the armed forces
and whether they would, and this is a quote from the form, “forswear any form of
allegiance or obedience “to the Japanese Emperor,” close quotes. And this question is
troubling from the beginning because it presupposes such
allegiance and obedience and denies Japanese American loyalty to the United States from the outset. Ichiro Yamada, the
protagonist of John Okada’s novel No-No Boy answered
no to both questions. No, I will not serve, and no,
I will not forswear loyalty, because he says, I don’t
have that loyalty in the first place to forswear it. And this decision sent him to the federal penitentiary for two years. Much like Jake Brown slash Braunowitz, he feels torn between
his Japanese genealogy and his American political identity. And the novel begins
when he returns home to Seattle after two years in
prison, just after the war. He finds his father an alcoholic, his mother maintaining the delusion that Japan has won the war
and waiting for a ship to take them back to
Japan, and his brother Taro, who is so ashamed
of him, that he’s about to join the Army to sort of
cancel out Ichiro’s refusal. Ichiro feels exiled
from his American self, but unable to regain any
sense of being Japanese. Ichiro’s lover, Emi,
recognizes the compromised citizenship of Japanese
Americans in her analysis of how their lives began to disintegrate. And this is Emi. “It’s because we’re
American and because we’re “Japanese and sometimes the two can’t mix. “It’s all right to be German and American “or Italian and American
or Russian and American. “But as things turned
out, it wasn’t all right “to be Japanese and
American,” close quotes. Ichiro’s complement is
Kenji, his contemporary whose leg was destroyed
in the war and who’s the most heroic character in the novel. Kenji’s wound has turned
gangrenous despite multiple amputations,
and over the course of the novel we see him dying
and he dies towards the end. Kenji and Ichiro’s
relationship is a sort of this weird chiasmus, sort of this cross between the two of them. So one, Ichiro, already
dead but still alive and contemplating 50 or 60
more years of dead aliveness, and the other, Kenji,
living and dying slowly. Kenji is quote, “More
American than most Americans “because he had crept to the
bring of death for America,” close quotes. And his family is Americanized,
eating roast chicken and lemon meringue pie
and watching baseball. Kenji fantasizes about
the possibility of running away from being Japanese,
and towards the end of the novel, he exhorts Ichiro to quote, “Go someplace where
there isn’t another Jap “within 1,000 miles. “Marry a white girl or
a Negro or an Italian “or even a Chinese, anything but Japanese. “After a few generations of that, “you’ve got the thing beat,” close quotes. Rather than feeling embraced
and absorbed by America, as Jake Braunowitz
imagines happening after he donates blood, or as
he believes will happen after he enlists in the
Army, Kenji envisions an ideal America that will swallow him whole into an open space that
is empty of Japanese. The only way to fully
participate in America is to dissolve the quote, “racial strain” with white or black or
Chinese, quotes, blood. For all his baseball
watching and pie eating, Kenji cannot imagine
an American citizenship that is compatible with
a Japanese genealogy. Kenji is Ichiro’s mirror and his opposite. He is a war hero with a silver star. In Ichiro’s mind, quote,
“Kenji was a veteran of “the Army of America and
had every right to laugh “and hope and love,
because one could do that “even if one of his legs was gone.” While for white Americans,
good health enables blood donation and
therefore the imprimatur of citizenship, Kenji’s
disability makes his Americanness possible. And it’s sort of like two negative numbers make a positive number. So to be Japanese American
is to be disabled. Kenji is disabled. You put those two
disabilities together and they cancel each other out and
make Americanness possible. It’s kind of this weird logic. At the same time, the
internal contradiction of Japanese and American is
literally destroying him via, quote, “a leg that
was eating itself away “until it would consume the man himself “in a matter of a few
years,” close quotes. For Ichiro, Kenji’s claim
to American citizenship is preferable to his own shameful status. Quote, this is Ichiro, “I’ll
change with you, Kenji, “he thought, give me the
stump which gives you “the right to hold your head high.” Kenji talks about his future in terms of inches of leg he has left. With each surgery, he loses inches. As the infection spreads, he loses more. And yet according to
the logic of the text, as his disability intensifies, he becomes more intrinsic to Ichiro’s
healing, to the narrative itself, and to this idea
of American identity. For a significant chunk of
the novel, we follow him more than Ichiro, and he
engages in a long meditation on race and democracy
more sophisticated than Ichiro’s tortured monologues. This is Kenji’s thought. “Was there no answer to
the bigotry and meanness “and smallness and ugliness of people? “One hears the voice of
the Negro or Japanese “or Chinese or Jew, a clear
and bell like intonation “of the common struggle for recognition “as a complete human being.” “And there is a sense of unity and purpose “which inspires one to hope
and optimism,” close quotes. Kenji’s bodily disintegration
makes possible his reconstitution as the
ideal American citizen. Dreaming of a heaven in
which, this is Kenji, quote, “There aren’t any Japs
or chinks or Jews or “poles or niggers or
frenchies, but only people,” close quotes. No-No Boy narrates the
ugly underside of the rhetoric of healthy American citizenship. It is bounded tightly by
whiteness and by an identity defined by blood for all of
its claims to the contrary. Only at the moment of
his own disembodiment can Kenji look beyond the strictures of American exceptionalism. Uniting not just Americans
of different races, but creating a sort of United
Nations of the afterlife. By the end of the novel, Ichiro is alone, trying to find a place for himself. Quotes, “He walked along,
thinking, searching, “thinking and probing,
and in the darkness of the “alley of the community, there
was a tiny bit of America. “He chased that faint and
elusive insinuation of a “promise as it continued
to take shape in mind “and in heart,” close quotes. Ichiro’s new birth into
Americanness is hesitant, partial, faint, and elusive. Quite different from
Jake’s triumphant entrance into the pulsing bloodstream of America. As Iris Marion Young has
ruefully argued, quote, “Many among the excluded and disadvantaged “have thought that winning
full citizenship status, “that is equal political and civil rights, “would lead to their freedom
and equality,” close quotes. At a moment in which
Americans were thinking explicitly about citizenship
as a mutuality of bodies and blood was a symbol
of the interconnectedness of all citizens, structures
were also forming that would fashion barriers
around that mutuality. Japanese American
citizenship could not exist on the same terms as
the citizenship of white ethnic enemy aliens like
Germans or Italians. They could not constitute
a quote, “healthy person” or represent one of the walks of life. In the final moments of
No-No Boy, Ichiro is walking, chasing an insinuation of a promise, so faint it is almost invisible. This promise, we might
imagine, is the one that we started with, the
promise of in modern kind of democratic citizenship. However, those words
take on different meaning when they are more than a sales
pitch for blood donations. For Ichiro and for
thousands of nisei like him, that promise was faint and elusive indeed. Thanks. (audience applauding) So I hope that wasn’t to abstract. – No, lots to think about. Thank you so much, absolutely. I’d like to ask all of
you for any questions that you might have. I have quite a number
of them, but I’d like to direct our attention to you. – [Sarah] Yeah, hi. – [Participant] The story use, it’s a very different approach to and
it’s really fascinating. And one of the things
that you mentioned about this identity of whiteness
with health, right, clean blood with white blood. Is there the equivalent of
that in terms of aesthetics? Meaning that you can debunk
the notion that people have different blood. Well, we do have that
it’s not based on race. And science can basically
debunk these notions that Negro blood or Jewish blood is less. In these two characters,
the Jewish fellow and the nisei, is there a sense
of what is aesthetically acceptable or not? – Not much, interestingly. Actually I just re-read
No-No Boy last night. So I was like, oh, that’s
such a great novel, highly recommend it. There’s a moment where Emi,
when Ichiro first meets Emi, and he says, she had long,
shapely legs like a white woman. So this idea that Asian
women have short legs and white women have long legs. But beyond that, no. Almost all the novel is set in the Japanese American community. So it’s not. I mean, definitely there
were kind of racist stereotypes of Jews and Japanese that were circulating, certainly for
Jews from the 19th century through to the ’30s and
for Japanese Americans it was front and center during the war. So the kind of thick lensed
glasses, the crazy teeth, these kind of bloodshot eyes. Interestingly, not so much. Not like you see with
the representation of African Americans, for example. And within the novels, no, not really. – [Participant] Jake’s sister
is not as identifiable. – She looks like a Gentile
boy, yeah, absolutely. – [Participant] So
she’s not marked by this Jewishness in a different way. – Yes, yeah, but there’s
not sort of an aesthetic argument like you’ll see
sort of in 1920s writing about Jews where it’s so
much about the swarthy Jew. No, it’s much… So part of what I’m arguing here is that particularly Jews and
Italians who are marked as totally racially other in the 1920s get integrated into whiteness in the ’40s through the vehicle of the war. And scholars have talked about this. You can see war movies where
you have your ragtag group. So you’ve got your farm boy from Iowa, you’ve got your southern gentleman, you’ve got your Brooklyn Italian, you’ve got your New York Jew. And they all together make a unit. Although of course, the others get killed off fairly quickly. And even a more recent movie
like Saving Private Ryan had exactly, it was like a
1940s, oh here’s our Jew, there is he is, here’s our Italian kid, here’s our southerner. And this was really an effort
to talk about national unity. And in the years after the Civil War, you see that happening
through north and south. During World War II, you see that through Anglo Americans and white ethnics. And so you do see kind
of physical differences. So the dark, curly haired Italian or the skinny, nerdy Jewish kid as opposed to the white, blond Ohioan. But it’s not racialized in the same way. – [Participant] There’s no
so called purity of blood or racial superiority with
certain notions of aesthetics. It’s almost inseparable. – Yeah, I mean, I think
what I found, at least in my research here, was that
there’s just this debate. So for example, there are
all of these newspaper editorials in the 1940s
saying, why is the Red Cross racially segregating blood? Everyone knows that blood
doesn’t have racial identity. Everyone knows that blood
types happen across race. Everyone knows this. And then the Red Cross
says, well, it’s going to make white people unhappy. Like white soldiers are
not gonna like this. And then the black press
comes in and has this series of cartoons that show
white soldiers lying in the field saying, I don’t care
what blood you give me, I just need to live. So then representing the Red
Cross, which is all about patriotism and citizenship as unpatriotic. So this debate is totally ongoing. The terms have not yet been settled. And so there’s this moment,
and what I’m trying to show is this moment where
the meaning of blood is up for grabs and is shifting. And the idea of blood as race
is starting to fall away. It’s becoming sort of less dominant. And the idea of blood as
something that can move between people is becoming more dominant. But there are all of
these ideas about race and whiteness and blah,
blah, blah that are still circulating and that there
are groups that still can’t be assimilated,
and Japanese Americans are one of them. It’s interesting, because
African Americans make an argument about we’re Americans too. They really make that
argument because they can say, we’re as American as everyone else. Japanese Americans have a
much harder time of that because of the Alien
Land Act, because of the Japanese immigrants are not
allowed to be naturalized. So they just have a much harder time. – Also, I mean, Japan frames
its citizenship in blood. – Through blood, absolutely. – I was also wondering
what impact that sort of discourse, be it happening
in another region of the world, has on… – Well, I think the
argument is look, even Japan believes that they are. And of course, during World
War II, you see, for example, the attack on Nanjing,
those kind of arguments of racial blood superiority
make the genocide in Nanjing possible, make
ongoing current discrimination against Korean Japanese. I mean, so it’s not like
that and the sort of neo nationalism that’s
happening in Japan now. It’s absolutely understood
through the language of blood. So blood never goes away. But it now in the 1940s,
it’s like this way of looking at blood, this
way of looking at blood. And they’re kind of up against each other, and what I want to do
was sort of see who can join in to giving blood
as an act of citizenship. My blood is going to join
this huge vat of blood. And who can’t. And that’s sort of what I’m interested in. Yeah. – [Participant] Was that
the only segregation of the blood?
– Yeah. – [Participant] So they didn’t
segregate Jewish blood or? – No, no, no, not at all. No, no, no, no. – [Participant] Mexicans in the southwest? – Not as far as I know, as far as I know. No, because there was blood collection in San Antonio as well. That was where one of the
permanent centers was. As far as I know, no. – [Participant] How old did
you have to be to give blood? Do you know? – I assume you had to be over 18. You had to be an adult. – [Participant] I was
wondering about 18 or 21 or how desperate they were. – They were desperate they were desperate. – [Participant] I mean,
you’re talking about a huge amount of blood. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. – Speaks a little bit to
the exclusion of gay blood after the AIDS crisis. – Oh, absolutely, absolutely. – Based on something about their identity. – Right, well and actually,
I’ll tell you a little story, which is I’m not
allowed to give blood because I grew up in England. And so even though I was
vegetarian for most of my life, Mad Cow Disease,
the fear of Mad Cow Disease, even though it was like, I
don’t have Mad Cow Disease. But I mean, so the American
Red Cross has this history of these weird, you know,
and they test all the blood anyway for everything. So yeah, it is, but certainly… – [Participant] Blood doesn’t get mixed. Like, all the O blood
doesn’t go into a vat and then you get a pint of O blood. It’s always just the pint
that came from the person. – No, it goes into a vat, of
course it goes into a vat. Yeah, of course. No, and in fact, much of
the blood, and this I didn’t have time to, I mean, this
is a much longer chapter, even though I talked for a long time. One technological advance
that you get in the ’40s is the ability to separate out
plasma centrifugally and then dry plasma and then reconstitute
it with water on the field. That changes everything. Because before that, you would
have to refrigerate blood. You can’t just let it
hang out, it coagulates. So it used to be that even though they had blood transfusion technology,
it didn’t do people any good in the field because
they had no refrigeration. As soon as you can dry
plasma, you now have all these envelopes of dried plasma
that you just add water to. You mix it up and boom, you’ve
got a field transfusion. So this is, and you need a lot more blood to get plasma out of it,
because when you dry something, the solids are lot less
than all the liquid that’s surrounded by it. Yeah, sure. – One of the things I find
so interesting is this idea of sort of a
multi-racial national blood, a national kind of pooling of blood. But then at the same time, of course, there’s so much discomfort
with multi-racial pairings. So you have Loving vs. Virginia
and all this kind of stuff. So the idea that citizenship,
we have this great vat of blood and it’s multi-racial and it has this democratic element. – But no black people. But no black people. And that’s the big but. I mean, this is, and in
fact, the Red Cross said, well, we don’t want to
upset the sensibilities of our southern soldiers. That was the argument they gave. And this sort of, I was
looking for, appeasement of the racist south. So no, I mean, what I’m
trying to show here is it’s a limited fantasy. It brings some people who
had previously not been considered white into
the fold of whiteness. So what we now call white ethnics. And explicitly excludes
others, African Americans, Japanese Americans, particularly. Yeah? – [Participant] I was going
to say, with the whole white and black separating,
do you really think it was just sort of a PR act, I guess? Because when you’re transporting
that kind of blood around, it’s gonna get mixed up eventually. – Well no, here’s a question,
this is what they did. And I actually went into
the Red Cross archives at The National Archives and
looked at how did they do it? So you give blood and
then it goes into a tube or a bottle and a bag
and they would label it, white or Negro. And then when it was
transferred in the field, they would put all of
the white blood together to be dried to plasma
and all of the black. – [Participant] They were
really that stubborn? – Yeah, I mean, when it came down to it, did some of it get mixed up,
did some of it get mislabeled? But they said that it was labeled at every step of the process. So no, they did it. I mean, it’s a huge amount of
work, if you think about it. But no, they said that they did it. Yeah. Well, first they denied that they did it. There’s a whole kind of
paper trail about memos back and forth, did they
do it, did they not do it. Then they said, yes we
did do it, we do do it, and then they say, well,
we’re just doing it because white people want it. I mean, the American Red Cross
knows that it’s bullshit. I mean, they know, they know
this is not how blood works. But it’s really, so there’s
this moment where these two historically specific
ideas about blood are banging up against each other. And then what’s interesting
to me is the decision that’s made, like which
direction are you gonna go in? Because they could have
just as easily said, this is crap, everyone knows it’s crap. Blood is blood, the most
important thing here is blood type, we’ve known
that for about 90 years. They could have made that response. I mean, the same way with
Korematsu vs. United States, I guess, which is the case
that the Supreme Court decided that said, yes,
internment of Japanese is fine. The Supreme Court starts
off by saying, you know, there are some
classifications like race that we need to be pay extra attention to them. And we need to make sure
that discrimination according to race doesn’t happen,
except in cases of what’s called compelling state interest. So where the need of the country outweighs the civil rights of these people. And you think where
they’re going to go is, and so we really shouldn’t
intern the Japanese because there really is no
compelling state interest. We know they’re not spies. But instead the Supreme
Court says, and so in fact, we have compelling state
interest to violate these people’s human
rights, take them away from their homes, and put them
in concentration camps. And they could so easily
have gone the other way. And that’s sort what I see here as well. The Red Cross could have made
a very different decision. But because this is a
language with which blood was talked about in some ways
that have not yet fallen away, this is what we get. – [Participant] When did they
stop segregating the blood? – Like towards the end
of the war, essentially, and then into the ’50s. And I think once you get the
exposure of what happened in Nazi Germany, the language
of blood just becomes very, very unsavory and very unattractive in a way that it had been tolerated. Anywhere from tolerated
to embraced before that. Yeah. – Just to weird people out
even a little bit more, I’ll throw in breast milk. I was reviewing documents
last year that related to the trial of Adolf Eichmann. And there was a request
to have a woman deported who had donated breast milk. They had a breast milk
bank in Germany for people who were breastfeeding. And it turned out that
she had a Jewish ancestor. So they wanted Eichmann
to make sure that this woman was deported and
this woman was killed. But they wanted to keep
it very, very quiet because they didn’t want
women to become hysterical. – That they’d drunk Jewish breast milk, their babies had drunk Jewish breast milk. – A drop of Jewish breast milk, yeah, from the breast milk bank. So this thing with
fluids and with the body. – ‘Cause they are really fluid. And this is the thing. – Take this serious. – Yeah, and I think as
well that is, I mean, really what I’m so
interested in in this book that I wrote but also more generally is how we see the relationship
between inside and outside. And how when you can go inside the body, you can take blood out,
you can open people up for surgery, that the body
is no longer a mystery. The insides of the body
are no longer a mystery. How does that interact
with the ideas that we have about what people’s bodies mean? And one thing that we see,
and this is actually an insight from a really
terrific sociologist of science called Bruno Latour,
Bruno Latour says, look, the scientific world doesn’t necessarily, scientific advances do not
necessarily change our minds. We have to be, the culture
has to want to change the way it sees people
in order for scientific advances to actually change the culture. And here’s this moment
where all these scientific advances have happened. People know that blood has
nothing to do with race. They know it. Hematologists know it, doctors know it. But the culture isn’t ready for that yet. The culture hasn’t caught up. And the Red Cross, because they are both a scientific organization, but
also a cultural organization and an organization that’s
pushing this very specific kind of patriotic
citizenship is negotiating between those two sets of ideas, between what science knows
and what people believe. And it’s not just an easy,
like well, now we know that blood is blood, everything’s going to change their minds suddenly. It just doesn’t happen that way. And that’s what I’m sort of
trying to figure out here. – I think similar questions
are bubbling up around DNA right now. – The last chapter of my
book is about DNA, actually. – [Participant] I mean, there
are culture change, something naturally occurring, but
the culture has to change or society has to change. – Well, and also, I think
that the answers we find depend upon and are
shaped by the questions we want to ask. – [Participant] The
interesting thing with DNA is in the last, I think,
two or three years, there’s a lot of research being done on, actually it would be good
to talk to Eugene Harris is working on that in our
department of biology, that there’s a significant
number of people in the world who have neanderthal DNA. – Which I think is so cool. I just love that. – [Participant] That is
now being picked up by certain areas saying
that, of course, ones who don’t have the neanderthal
DNA are the Africans. – Oh, interesting, interesting. – [Participant] A certain
thing that can be just very illuminating. – And just cool. I mean, isn’t it cool that
we’re part neanderthal? – [Participant] And the thing
is they say, oh, exactly. – So now it’s racialized, yeah. That’s what makes us more human. – [Participant] A lot of this, especially now with the internet. And they’re all this
website that you wouldn’t think that they are
actually racist groups. They seem like legitimate groups. They’re picking on these types. – Yeah, I would say actually
we’re moving away from DNA and now we’re in brain chemistry. That’s the new thing. That’s what people want
to mean everything. There’s always sort of
the scientific phenomena that are going to
explain everything to us. And it used to be blood,
then for a while it was hormones, then for a
while it was genome, DNA. Now neurochemistry. Everything, everything,
everything is like, the brain, how the brain does that. And it’s like, any time
that you want an explanatory system that tells you
everything about everyone, it’s really just ’cause you’re
asking the wrong questions. Because nothing tells you
everything about everyone. Nothing does, there is
no universal explanatory system that can explain us. But then you have to acknowledge
that people are complex and different and difficult
to understand and we’re shaped internally and environmentally. And that’s much more complicated than our brains make us do things. – Well, I think actually to conclude, I think it’s such a nice
example of the fact that combining disciplines,
combining different perspectives to understand our history,
to understand ourselves, to understand society is so important. There is no one explanatory system. – No there’s not. – Unfortunately, explanatory
discipline either, so I appreciate your
inter-disciplinary perspective. Thank you much. – And thank you, everyone, for coming. I really appreciate it. I hope it wasn’t too abstruse. – I have lots of questions. – Oh, okay. Let’s turn this thing off, there we go. – [Participant] I want
to ask a quick question. – Yes, of course. – [Participant] When you were
talking about that guy DeWitt. – Oh DeWitt, yeah, John DeWitt, ugh. Terrible person. – [Participant] I was kind of confused. I don’t know if you can elaborate. – Sure. – [Participant] Oriental thought patterns? – What that is, I have, well, look. Okay, this is the thing. This is what happens when
you put racists in charge. To me this idea Oriental thought patterns is so interesting, because
he’s saying Japanese Americans who are raised in the
US are free of Oriental thought patterns, which
in the 1940s about Japan is connected to fascism,
is connected to unthinking obedience to authority. So whereas the ideal
American is both exceptional and like everyone else,
the Japanese are faceless and anonymous and you
can’t tell them apart. And at the same time, not
like the way people should be. But at the same time, he’s
saying, so he’s really talking, even though he says
so called Japanese culture, he’s acknowledging there
is some kind of cultural component to the way people think. But at the same time,
he’s saying ultimately blood trumps that. That even though these
nisei are, they’re eating lemon meringue pie and playing baseball, they cannot be 100% loyal
to the United States. So I mean, also there’s
this idea that a culture is unitary, so that all
Japanese think the same, all Asians, the Oriental thought patterns, all Asians think the same. And so that’s really
what he’s talking about. – [Participant] Okay, so
he was a very confused man. – No, he wasn’t confused at all. He wasn’t confused at all. But he was dealing with… No, he wasn’t confused and he was like, well, Japanese Americans are disloyal. They cannot do anything about that. They cannot be real citizens. They cannot be legitimate
Americans and that’s that. He was very clear. Just he had this very
kind of bizarre set of explanatory kind of
apparatus to do that with. But no, I mean, it’s
interesting because I was actually having this
conversation with a student. We were talking about
blackface minstrelsy, actually, I was teaching this
early American drama course. And she was like, oh, these
people are so ignorant. And I’m like, no, they’re not ignorant. They’re hanging out with black people. They’re not ignorant, they’re racist. And that’s not the same thing. That ignorance and racism
are not the same thing. And I think that’s something
what I’m trying to do here is sort of separate out those. – [Participant] What’s
the difference between ignorance and racism? – I think that for example,
you can have friends of a different race and
still have racist ideas. You can still, because
they’re very, very powerful. So you can know African
American and Latino people. You can hang out with them. But that doesn’t mean
that you don’t, you’re not still bombarded by white supremacy. I mean, this idea that
well, if you just get to know someone, your
negative ideas about them will just fall away. I mean, I think Nazi Germany
is an excellent example. These are people who lived side by side. – [Participant] In other
words, if you know people who are ethnic or
minority, you still get to keep your stereotypes? – Well, people do. I mean, you have to say, I
am committed to anti-racism, not just I have black friends. – [Participants] Same
thing like all Asians are good at math. Even though it’s a positive. – Right, but even if you
know Asians who aren’t good at math, you’ll be
like, oh, well, you’re not like all the others. Anyway, thank you, everyone. Thank you for coming.

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