MY E.O. 9066: Resistance at Tule Lake


When I was a child,

I was just a little too Japanese.

My L’s and R’s

Came out as

Reft and Light

As in whenever I left my Japanese at home.

It would make me feel alright.

When I was in Math Class

I sat between two kids: a white boy and a yonsei; we looked alike

Like a line between the divide signs

He couldn’t discern the difference between the dots

The yonsei and I.

We looked alike.

But I didn’t sound like the others.

When I was bullied,

My teacher said that my sentences sounded funny.

Like how my English would flow together like brush strokes of Japanese calligraphy

I woulda left the room but it wasn’t right.

I was a model minority student.

You see I was good at math

Because that was the only homework that my mother could help me with.

The numbers just didn’t add up.

The Yonsei kid was laughing at me.

If I subtracted the accent we were the same underneath.

My father told me that I am more than the sum of my parts.

But at that point I felt more like a divide line between two points, two nations and my heart

The Yonsei told me that I was fresh off a boat.

So I resisted the urge to speak.

Because in school I was suppose to raise the American

and submerge the Japanese.

We’ve heard this story before.

Divided between Loyalty and Resistance

Too many Stories

Too Late

Stories that were never told

Questions that should not have been asked

At last we can take a moment

To look back at our collective pasts

Japanese American history is riddled with Land Mines

So make sure you mind lands.

On the point of our pens.

The point is that

Marking Yes or No

On two questions

Shouldn’t have been a mark of loyalty.

Shouldn’t have been the narrative of American.

Shouldn’t have divided our families.

Generations later we still try to do the math.

So we subtracted the parts of that made us other.

Memories fading faster

Cultural genocide disaster

My language

My kotoba

Baa-chan I wish I asked her

Jii-chan I wish he told me

Know history

To know me

No History

There’s no me

The Tule Lake resistance is still relevant

We defended the civil liberties of the immigrants

It’s time to dig up some skeletons

Here’s my Shin-Nikkei Testament.