Leaving their home and possessions,
not his parents’ choice…
His mama’s purse is full of treats for five-year-old George and little Henry as they make the long train trip with her, Daddy, and baby Nancy from their home in Los Angeles to a camp in the woods of rural Arkansas.
Not a vacation place, but an internment camp with barbed wire fences, unfamiliar foods, very little privacy, and their loyalty to the USA constantly in question – boring for kids, disheartening for adults.
Later, George’s family was moved to a facility in the California desert at Tule Lake, another of several concentration camps that housed 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese who were forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II.
At war’s end, they hoped to move back to their homes and businesses, but their properties had been seized and sold to others… time to start all over again.
Will the US government deport George’s family?
How can they live in a country that hates them?
What will the future be like in a world after war?
This is a sobering portrayal of a dreadful time in America’s history, as seen through a child’s eyes and reinforced by decades of subtle and overt racism against Asian Americans.
(One of the white co-authors had worked previously with Takei and pitched the idea of capturing his childhood memories as a graphic novel. The book’s artist is Japanese-American, creator of Himawari House graphic novel that I recommended here.)
The well-known Star Trek actor and social activist continues to speak out against discrimination, racism, and the rights of all to love and be loved.
What young childhood memory would you write or draw?
Book info: They Called Us Enemy / George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Top Shelf Media, 2019. [author site] [co-author site] [co-author interview] [illustrator interview] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.