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Title: Dale Minami Interview
Narrator: Dale Minami
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Margaret Chon (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: February 8, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-mdale-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

MC: Where do you think some of the conformity and competitiveness in Gardena came from? Do you think it was possibly a cultural influence? Was it the '50s maybe? Was it possibly in response to the internment? Because I know that some others have written about sort of super-conformity to sort of American values as a result of the internment.

DM: Tell me if I'm talking too long.

TI: No, this is fine.

DM: Okay, you just tell me. You know, that's a really good question. I think part of it is Japanese, cultural Japanese. And partly what you have is when you have a homogeneous group, like the Japanese were in Japan, you know, in villages, or in towns, and everybody knows each other's business. I think it could be, I shouldn't say a natural phenomenon, 'cause I don't think it's universal, but I think the idea of status, the idea of acclaim, I think that's very, very much a Japanese cultural value. So I think partly it's that. And partly coming over and transplanting themselves in this country and having a forum or a venue where they could act out some of these Japanese cultural values, probably encouraged that type of competition. I think also, I think you're right, I think the camps probably did have an effect. Because you know, in a sense we were surrogates for our parents. We became their dreams that they could never have. We became a people that they wished they could have been had there not been racism in the camps or discrimination in the camps. And so in a way, I think, I think the kids were pushed pretty hard to achieve. I think that's one part of it. I think the second part of it is a secret wish. It's both a wish and a need. The wish is that, "I'm gonna have my kids be so good that they're gonna show all those white people out there that we're worthy of being Americans." So I think there might have been a subtle part of that. The need part of it was, "We need you to be exceptional. You gotta be twice as good as everyone else. 'Cause if you're not they're gonna send you to the camps again." And while that wasn't said, specifically, I kinda sensed that's kinda like a subconscious idea that Japanese Americans had that they had to be so good. They couldn't make any mistakes. You couldn't afford to screw up whether it be being too visible about political issues, or being bad in school, or any of those things. I think the camps really did reinforce that notion of you have to be really, really good to remain in this country safely.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.