Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kara Kondo Interview
Narrator: Kara Kondo
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Gail Nomura (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 7 & 8, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-kkara-01-0046

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AI: Well, as you say, the attitudes at that time were quite different, and I was, I was wondering if you talked to your children about issues like prejudice or discrimination that they might face.

KK: No. I don't think I did. I don't think I did. I think if they faced it, and they brought it up themselves, then we were... but I, I usually didn't try to, I tried to remedy it by some other means, and during the time when my daughter was having problems -- teenage problems and rebellious -- I found that I sent her as a -- what they called a "candy striper" to the Yakima Valley School where it was a school for the institutionalized. They were the people who were called mentally or physically incapacitated or challenged. And it was a very good experience for her. She was so, I don't know whether she was sixteen or fifteen, but, during this time. And then, actually, she went into this. She went into special education because of that and having that experience, and to this day she does... she, she works with challenging job of people who are either by -- referred to the, to the particular school that she directs, by the courts or by the police or by other schools who cannot handle them. So I believe that some of the early experiences, that she, she may not have realized that, unconsciously realized that it was one way of handling some of her own problems.

AI: Well, I also was wondering if you or Tak ever discussed with your children issues of ethnicity or racial identity either about your own or theirs or if they --

GN: Or if they, being... were they considered, would their parents' Japanese American experience, did you talk to them about...?

KK: Well, I think that they, physically they, they realized that we were. And then, you know, I was, I was always never far from the Japanese American experiences through my involvement in, in various ways. And they knew why, that I was involved because of my background, of my ethnicity, and they probably realized that their dad had a hard time finding a job because of certain reasons.

But I don't think I ever sat down, unless they came up with a problem that was distinctly, distinctly racial or something like, discriminatory because of race. You know, the kids faced lots of problems, not racial ones, and not because of race particularly, because of certain behaviors or certain expectations of them. And... but I never tried to prepare them. Kids are pretty resilient even if they face it because of their race. I think if they're at least aware of it... I think they're aware of it without being told about it very much. And I tried to spare them of having to look for people who might view them because they were biracial, or whether because they were different because of the facial features or whatever. I tried to keep it as normal as possible. They had enough burdens to bear.

GN: Did you talk to them about your experiences in World War II?

KK: Yes, I think I have as questions came up and probably more aware. Interestingly, it was, it was Lance who, who really was, became much more aware of things like that. Not because we talked to them. Experiences in camp would come up in informal discussions or hearing adults speak. But I never sat down and said, now we did this in camp and we did that. Or I might say about the first Christmas in camp, that, "Your aunt sang 'O Holy Night.'" Or how cold it was, and when I had an ice cream cone it froze in my hands. Things, little things like that would come up as far as camp experience was concerned. And I never kept it from them, but I never sat down and said, "Day 'this' we did that, and Day 'this' we did that." Or, "These orders came." Not like ones in the notes. It... I think they absorbed it and, probably, it's, they know about it, but it's not an overriding issue. I don't think they would crusade for the Muslims or anything like that. But I think they would be fair.

<End Segment 46> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.