1) Victoria- Why We Chose the Japanese Internment
Victoria- What the Japanese Internment Is
2) Alicia – Relationship to Present Day Racial Profiling
3) Pierre, Alicia, Victoria – Difficulties in Poetry Writing Process
4) Pierre – Pearl Harbor Poem
5) Alicia – Internment Poem
6) Pierre – Conversation Poem
7) Victoria – No No Boys (Who they are and what they mean)
8) Alicia – Fifth Years later
9) Pierre- The Wire and what it Means
10) Victoria – Mass Perception of Two Racializations
11) Alicia – Dr. Omar Shahin and Dialogue Poem
12) Victoria – Narrative of Today
This poem is loosely based on the story of James Hatsuki Wakasa, a Japanese internee who was shot by a guard at an internee camp in Topaz, Utah on April 11, 1943, because he was supposedly “escaping.” In reality, he was behind the fence the whole time, and thus shot for reason at all. Wakasa’s story was one of the more egregious examples of blatant racism and racial profiling that I came across in my research. In this conversation poem I wanted to explore the differences between what the U.S, government said they were doing to the Japanese-Americans, and the true reality that the Japanese-Americans faced in not having a voice to speak out in the camps.
This poem also works to move our overall narrative structure along, as a portion of the top left stanza is the official language that the government used to tell the Japanese-Americans of their fate. However, I didn’t really think the official government language was conducive to poetry, so I combined it with a more lyrical approach to get more emotion in the piece. This poem is mostly based on Wakasa’s story, but does not mention him by name so as to encompass the injustices of all the internees; Wakasa’s story or similar stories of reality distortion and disillusion could be the story of any internee who was racially profiled or exploited at this time.
I wrote a bunch of drafts for this poem, some general and some more specific to Wakasa’s story, before finally settling on this version of “Disillusion.” I struggled with developing both voices and giving them equal say in the matter, instead of writing purely from the viewpoint of someone who thinks that racially profiling is wrong. Similar to the other poems, I had to find the right balance between incorporating facts and raw emotion, and seeing how these elements differed depending on the “speaker” on each side of the poem.
In this post we will play devil’s advocate, showing both the positives and the negatives of racial profiling and stereotyping. The arguments in this blog post are not the opinions of members of this group. Similar to the Leadbelly poems that used different voices to explore the views of other characters besides Leadbelly himself, this post aims to examine the argument for racial profiling in the United States. Hopefully we can shed light on why racial profiling is such a highly contested issue in our country. After the Japanese dropped bombs on Pearl Harbor, the United States government deemed Japanese living in America a threat to national security, and had them interned in various camps. After 9/11, the U.S. government again has to deal with racial profiling issues. The goal of the government is obviously to protect the interests of the people, but how far is too far, and when do concerns for safety become concerns for racial profiling and human rights?
Many people think that racial profiling is bad, but what happens when another plane is blown out of the sky on American soil? Racial profiling, if done correctly, can help protect our borders. After the attacks on 9/11, Law Enforcement has been vigilant for attacks on the U.S. Airport security has rightly been increased. It is optimistic to think that all people are inherently good, but people are inherently evil have no disregard for the lives of others.If our justice system would rather send an innocent man to prison than let real criminals roam free, then we should utilize the same approach with racial profiling/stereotyping. Sure, many of the people that are profiled will be innocent, but all it takes is one terrorist to blow up a plane, and similarly it only takes one suspicious TSA officer to search that man and not let him on the plane.If you don’t want to be a victim of racial profiling, don’t have anything to hide. People inherently will judge you, whether you like it or not. You will make them feel better if they know that while on the outside you possess characteristics that lead you to be racially profiled, you are actually innocent. Yes, it stinks to be the turbaned guy who is stopped at the airport because he looks like Osama bin Laden, but his slight inconvenience is for the greater good. If he is clean, which he probably is, he can go on his merry way. If he is a terrorist, than a plane full of people has been saved.If more people stereotyped/profiled their peers, future crimes could be stopped. If people stereotyped Jerry Sandusky as a pedophile instead of a nice white guy, maybe he would not have raped those young boys at Penn State. “But he was such a good guy,” everyone said, “such a smooth-talker.” Parents trusted him, and he abused their children.It is better to be safe, and racially profile someone, then to let someone who is actually evil slip through the cracks and wreak havoc on society. If people don’t like being stereotyped, that is tough; if they are truly innocent, they should not matter being inconvenienced for a few moments for the greater good. Our justice system would rather see an innocent man go to jail than have a criminal go free. In that same light, it is better to profile innocent races rather than see acts of terror committed on American soil. If you look suspicious, you should be searched and profiled as an undesirable until proven otherwise. From blacks to Muslims to Latinos to Asians to whites, no race is safe from this racial profiling and stereotyping; but our country will be safe, and that is all that matters.
Racial profiling is an act that has been present for decades since long before the tragic events of 9/11 or World War II Era Japanese Internment camps. The fact of the matter is that racial profiling is a form of racial prejudice and leads to racially charged hate crimes. This is seen through a plethora of examples like the article on the Muslim-American doctor who was picked out of an airplane based on suspicions from other individuals despite the fact that he was as westernized as possible by speaking English and wearing common western clothing.In a more familiar example, the headline-making Trayvon Martin case is a prime example of racial profiling in which a young black man was fatally shot because of “suspicions” of violence even though the only belongings on him were a hoodie and a bag of skittles. This man was killed because he was black. He was racially profiled as a violent boy looking for a fight even though he stayed to himself. His murderer is not in jail now because of this racial profiling.It is not right to simply look at an individual and assume that because he or she is black, Muslim, a man, or any other basic identifier that he or she is suspicious and more likely to cause havoc. How many times have white females acted violently and committed crimes, causing the public to be surprised? This is because white females are deemed less suspicious or violent than other races and sexes, which is an unjust assumption. Race and gender should not make a violent crime any more or less shocking and should certainly not lead to racial profiling.Too often on our school campus “crime alerts” are sent out to students warning of a robbery, an assault, or a sexual assault. While this past summer the profile of the Ann Arbor rapist who tormented a handful of different women was reportedly a white male, the attention given to sexual assaults or robberies seen in the “crime alerts” focus on black males. This is racial profiling. As awful as it is to say, if the man who raped those women last summer was black, the police and the public would debatably be more outspoken and proactive in finding the man who committed these acts.Rape, just like any other crime, should not be measured on a scale of terror, with that terror relating directly to race, gender or any other difference. These crimes are violent and scarring despite the color of the perpetrator’s skin, which shows that racial profiling does little to help those victims of such acts. Victims do not want revenge on all of the people of the same race in which their perpetrator is, they want justice for the crime committed upon them by the perpetrator himself.The question is, why punish a large group of people whether it be based on race, religion, or gender, when only some of those people are the real perpetrators? Until the human race can rectify the crimes they have committed and grow enough to not put blame on groups of innocents rather than the specific perpetrators themselves, racial profiling will exist as a scapegoat. Racial profiling does nothing but add tension and catalyze violence between races and genders, causing more hate than there ever was to begin with.
The Outside Perspective:
Give us 30 minutes, and we’ll show you your world,
But only the parts you’re supposed to see,
And we’ll take creative license as well, If only to ensure,
You will think the way you’re meant to,
And accept the stories we tell you, like a child before bed,
So that you will ignore completely
The past laid out behind you, in order to maintain the status quo,
of having you believe
your lifestyle is in peril, and we have a clear enemy,
in the forties as a man, woman or child of Japanese descent,
and today as an Arab,
because a war a world away means they are enemies.
A Changing Society:
such person or classes of persons
as the situation may require –
deemed a threat the United States of America;
all enemy aliens,
all persons of Japanese ancestry,
aligned with the emperor,
(taken for their protection)
the loyal among them say we’re right,
as we’ve provided buses, facilities –
being that even their people are ashamed of those free,
look at their smiles
see how close that naval base is
to your children,
different than theirs by sight, but
due process is not for terrorists,
have to trade up liberty for security,
and must look to peaceful Israel and find the bomber,
not the bomb,
by reporting suspicious activity,
any activity at all:
perpetrated by a color, you see
they hate our freedom and liberty
and train their children to hate us too,
what does it mean to be American now, but
let’s ask the expert:
terrorism is only against the US,
all inside can be spies
How important is their voice?
This archive from the Data Collection Resource Center at Northeastern University contains a variety of articles and statistics of post-9/11 racial profiling in the United States. The United States is a free country, but as these articles, statistics, and other news stories show, there are still numerous examples of racial profiling and stereotyping within our free borders. The U.S. government has revamped security after 9/11, but at what cost, and is there any way for racial profiling to be fully eradicated?
This archive contains a variety of interviews of Japanese-Americans who were interned in various camps during World War II. The internees had different stories and ways of dealing with their lack of liberties, and served as inspiration for our poems. Each story is horrible and chilling, and lets people appreciate the rights and liberties that we can enjoy today in the United States. It is important to remember, though, that these rights are intended for every American citizen, not just citizens born in the United States. As we hope our blog shows, racial profiling is still present in the United States, and people need to be educated about the negative impact of racial profiling so that it can be stopped in the future.