On March 30th, 1942, Bainbridge Islanders were evacuated due to Executive Order 9066. In this symbolic image (above), Bainbridge native Fumiko Hayashida is pictured holding her daughter Natalie as they were leaving the island to go to the internment camps.
In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Currents Online received insight from the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum about this moment in history. Throughout this month we will highlight various aspects of our island’s Asian Pacific American culture.
The Japanese internment may seem far removed from us – 78 years later. However, PBS had an April 17 article entitled, “Asian Americans describe ‘gut punch’ of racist attacks during coronavirus pandemic,” written by Matt Loffman. He writes, “The novel coronavirus pandemic has Americans across the country fearful for their personal health and well-being, but for Asian Americans, the virus has stirred up another threat: a wave of verbal and physical attacks.”
He recounts an incident described by Manjusha Kulkarni, the executive director of the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council. Before schools across the country closed en masse, she was told: “A 12-year-old was taunted at school by a classmate who yelled at him to “go back to China,” Kukarni recalled.
Those who lived through the internment period can recall similar taunts.
What history has taught us, is that it tends to repeat itself unless we learn its lessons.
In its ongoing exhibit, American Japanese Exclusion, The Historical Museum explains:
“After Pearl Harbor, the perceived threat led to the evacuation and incarceration of persons of Japanese descent, including U.S. citizens. Bainbridge Island was the first West Coast community impacted by this decision. On March 29, 1942, two hundred twenty-seven Japanese American Islanders were sent to Manzanar Relocation Center. The Japanese American Exclusion is a story of the suspension of civil liberties and citizen resistance told through personal experience.”
ABOUT THE BAINBRIDGE ISLAND HISTORICAL MUSEUM. Although the museum is currently closed to visitors, it has an Online Exhibit, “Fearless Music.” Its most recent exhibit is, “Her Vote. Her Story.” MISSION: Preserve and share the stories of Bainbridge Island to promote a greater understanding of our community and the world in which we live.