BACKGROUND INFO ON SHOT: Shot taken at Manzanar, mid day. I was inside watching a video about internment when I saw the light outside the window. I ditched my friends and went outside to do what I had to do.
I'd be lying to you if I were to tell you that it wasn't beautiful that day. I think that even Manzanar had its beautiful days. But imagine waking up to this every morning, and knowing that this is all there is. And when the summer comes, the clouds gone, the dandelions wilted and blown to dust.
Continuation of my last two posts on the Manzanar Japanese-American Internment Camp. Please check out "Manzanar Concentration Camp" and "Shikataganai". Without reading my other two posts, this is just a pretty landscape. I hope you don't settle for that.
I think that growing up as an Asian American today is a whole lot easier. In my life, I can think of maybe two times that I have faced outright racism, and at those times it was really more out of ignorance than spite. When I talk to my Asian American friends, be they Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, or whatever, most of them will agree with me that for the most part, people treat AA's fairly nowadays. We still have stereotypes, but just by looking at the stereotypes one can at least see that a lot of the hatred has gone away (all Chinese people are good at Math, for example, vs. "No chinks or dogs allowed" signs posted in restaurant windows).
The problem with having it as easy as we had it, in comparison to our ancestors, is that it tends to make us callous to our own history. Let me tell you this: I am downright disgusted at the Japanese American club at my school for its turnout at Manzanar this year. We originally had 25+ people signed up to go, and of the 20, only 5 ended up going. C'mon. What the fuck.
I understand the necessity of getting good grades, doing your homework, and all of that good stuff, but the Manzanar trip is probably the Nikkei Student Union's most important event of the year. This is something that you can, perish the thought, do your homework and studying ahead of time for. So what we have is 100+ members, Japanese American and other, and of that only five people show up? Ridiculous.
Sorry; I don't often vent about this, but it bothered me that my Japanese American friends did not make more effort to come to this event. Shikataganai, I guess. Not caring enough to do your homework early.
So with my photography, my hope is that I can kick the ass of whoever doesn't care. I want to make them care. I want them to see my pictures and say, "I really missed out on something special. Something big." And they did. This year, they did. And if they miss out again next year, I'll kick their asses in person.
And to the people who aren't Japanese American, to the people who may have never even learned anything meaningful about JA's internment, or about the shit Asian Americans had to go through in the history of this country, my hope is that my photography can at least help to make it more tangible to them. And my goal isn't to depress. I'm an upbeat kind of guy. But if I can show at least one person that what happens to one group affects us all, then my job will be done. Because at the end of the day, it's too easy to say: this is a problem that Japanese Americans faced circa 1943. I want to change that statement through my photography. I want people to stop and say: "this is a problem with my country. This is a problem with America."
You know, After 9/11 the government tried to do the SAME THING thing to the American Muslims, as well Arab-Americans including those who were not Muslim. And its disgusting, the same guy who suggested it on 2001 still believes it should still be done even today.
"I understand the necessity of getting good grades, doing your homework, and all of that good stuff, but the Manzanar trip is probably the Nikkei Student Union's most important event of the year. This is something that you can, perish the thought, do your homework and studying ahead of time for. So what we have is 100+ members, Japanese American and other, and of that only five people show up? Ridiculous."
I totally agree with that. Even though I'm still a senior in high school and all people do is study study study, I agree that people miss opportunties to really get out and see what the real world is. I'm sorry that only 5 people showed up and I think that's really lame too. It's a good thing that you went though, it shows how much you really care about your ancestor's past and treatment of american asians.
I did a report on the Japanese internment camps my sophomore year and learned a lot from that so I know how horrible it was for everyone who went through that. Stupid government.
I really like the picture though. I like the lighting effect of the sky and the overall color effect.
These are excellent-- the whole series-- I'm just leaving one comment to save time-- but . . . wow.
The depth to which you feel for these photos is obvious and underscored by your descriptions, and you really evoke a mood with both.
I'm not Japanese-American, but I have a really deep interest in this period of American history. I found this searching specifically for art having to do with internment camps. I was not disappointed (and, by the way, I totally would have gone on your trip, if non-Japanese-Americans were invited and I went to your school . . . I've never been to Manzanar but I feel obligated to sometime).
I think that growing up as an Asian American today is a whole lot easier. What this series of pictures evoked from me, really, was that, above the bleak setting that was then-- the problem with America in its past-- is still illuminated by an absolutely gorgeous sky. It's like there's a hope, a knowing, that someday, things will be better. Even if the present is a dusty, closed-in camp, there's still the sun and the rolling clouds. Things have gotten better, if only a little bit-- the prejudice starts to drift away-- and hopefully it will continue to move that direction.