Japanese, Muslims Recall Racism

December 18, 2006

Author: Michael Manekin

Source: Tri Valley Herald


When the Imperial Japanese Navy swooped over Pearl Harbor 65 years ago and destroyed more than 2,400 American lives, Mas Yamasaki was watching a church basketball game in Sacramento.

He was 12, and he didn't know that he would soon live in a detention camp at Tule Lake - sleeping on an Army-issued mattress, braving the elements without indoor plumbing or heat.

The child of Japanese immigrants, Yamasaki was born an American citizen. But he spent 31/2 years of his American childhood in the camp - he was considered a threat to national security.

The internment of Japanese immigrants is familiar to most Americans - in large part, because Yamasaki and legions of Japanese camp survivors have made their voices heard.

Now, Yamasaki and other survivors are speaking out against a new danger.

"We were stereotyped," said Yamasaki. "Now, with the Muslims, it's the same thing. Everyone's pointing fingers saying they're an enemy."