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.
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 article on CNN.com relates to the compare/contrast post that we plan on completing soon for the blog. The article seems to be written from the perspective that racial profiling is bad, but presents examples that can help better flesh out the arguments for and against racial profiling in the United States.
As the article states, “…New York police are allowed to stop and question anyone on the street if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person was involved in illegal activity, is about to commit a crime or is carrying a gun.” (CNN) The New York Police Department is allowed to “stop, question, and frisk” anyone who they deem suspicious and capable of (or already committing) a crime. The article adds, “Close to 700,000 of the searches took place in New York last year, a record number.” (CNN)
The police argue that this “frisking” policy takes lots of guns off the streets, and thus theoretically limits the violence in the area. New York City Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. says, “’Stop, question and frisk’ takes about 800 guns a year off the streets.” (CNN) I think that this practice is overstepping the boundaries of being a free citizen.
While the number of police “frisk” searches have greatly increased in the last few years, the number of shootings in the city has stayed roughly the same. According to the article, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly “testified that 96% of shooting victims in New York are people of color and therefore, stopping and questioning suspicious individuals in minority communities is justified. He said about half of the stops actually result in a “limited pat-down” and only 9% result in a more thorough search.” (CNN) Delores Jones-Brown, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, said, “the majority of people who are stopped are black, followed by Hispanics, then white people.” (CNN) Jones-Brown adds, “Almost 90% of those stops do not result in an arrest or a summons being issued.” (CNN) If the searching leads to little or no arrests, then the process would appear to be futile. If police were really concerned with stopping violent crimes and getting criminals off the streets, they would utilize their time and resources better. Instead of wasting their time inconveniencing innocent people, they would work towards finding the real criminals and searching them. For innocent people will be really inconvenienced if they are robbed from or murdered by a criminal that the police could have stopped with better preparation.
The fact that the police are trying to put an end to violence and death on the streets is definitely a good thing. However, who is to judge the appearance of “suspicious individuals?” Should the police be passing judgment on people who are probably innocent, or are there no other options to ensure the safety of the community? The CNN article also alludes to the prospect of racial profiling by the NYPD, as most of the “suspicious individuals” are nonwhite. Just because people might wear baggy pants or bandanas, doesn’t mean that they are part of a gang. Same with tattoos and smoking, or any other minuscule thing that the police can determine as “suspicious.” Most of these examples have worked their way into everyday American fashion and social norms, and as the above studies seem to indicate, most people are not criminals.
According to the RAND Corporation, a non-profit research organization for the public and private sectors, “In 2006, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stopped a half-million pedestrians for suspected criminal involvement. Raw statistics for these encounters suggest large racial disparities, [as] 89 percent of the stops involved nonwhites.” (RAND)
I do not think that these “frisk” searches are the solution, as they present an inherently racial bias/profiling. Even if the police officer is not racist, there is no way around the problem that if you stop someone who is a different race then you, you will be called out for racial profiling. If the government needs to have probable cause to search someone’s home, or wiretap their phone, then this same law should carry over to free citizens walking or driving on the streets. Unless there is probable cause to search someone, the police need to mind their own business. For example, just because the majority of shooting victims in New York are nonwhite, doesn’t mean that every minority is carrying a gun and intends to commit a crime. That is not to say that the police shouldn’t stay vigilant on the job; that is what they are trained and paid to do. If they think someone is suspicious, they need to search them. But if they think that the person is “suspicious” in the more racial context, they need to find other solutions than just frisking them and violating the person’s liberties. Otherwise, police officers lose their credibility and authority with the general public. People won’t listen to officers who they recognize as racist, especially in communities where minorities and people of color are present. For police officers to be truly effective, they have to prove to the public by their actions and conduct that they treat every citizen equally, no matter the citizen’s race, which in this country means innocent until proven guilty, or innocent until proven suspicious. If officers spend most of their time conducting futile searches on innocent people, they risk the chance that true criminals are able to slip though the cracks.
This archive includes a variety of images of the people affected by Japanese Internment Camps in the United States. It also includes bulletins from the United States government and also excerpts from Newspapers that were popular at the time of the internment.
After reading the posts on WomenBehindBars, I thought this was another interesting case of racial profiling that took place well before 9/11. Similar to Susan Smith, who originally accused an unnamed (an unreal) black man of murdering her two young children, Charles Stuart murdered his pregnant wife and was able to briefly convince Boston police that a black man had carjacked them and killed them. Stuart beat himself to show that he had been attacked. He gave the police a description of this supposed black man, and eventually picked one out of a lineup at the police station. This black man, Willie Bennet, was held for a time before Stuart’s brother told police that Charles was the murderer. Soon after, Charles Stuart committed suicide by jumping off the Tobin Bridge.
More information about the specifics of this case can be found on Wikipedia.
This is a poem about Pearl Harbor, the historic event that started the relocation/internment camps for Japanese living in the United States. In “Pearl Harbor,” I tried to capture multiple elements that go into the Japanese internment narrative. Since this poem starts my group’s poetry collection, I wanted to set up the narrative in a way that is personal, and hits home to portray the injustices that the Japanese-Americans were about to face after Pearl Harbor, but also broad enough that it could be the starting point for different Japanese stories of life in the internment camps. Every person, every family, had their own experience living in the internment camps, but all of their horrors can be traced back to the events that transpired after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In U.S. history classes, American students always learn how Pearl Harbor changed the destiny of the United States, our country, and we seem to forget that there are other, diverse people that make up the American population. For example, Japanese families living in the U.S. often identified with Americans values and lifestyle; they were opposed to the bombing and the possibility of war as much as the average, white American. In this poem, I tried to explore the feelings that I imagined the Japanese-Americans were feeling at the time. What did we do to deserve this? Why us? Americans might think that their lives were changed after a foreign country attacked their home soil, but Japanese-Americans faced an even bigger change. Not only were they in effect outcast from Japan because they did not believe in the war, but they were also outcast in their new home country (the U.S.) by people who feared them instead of realizing that they were on the same side and just had a different color skin.