Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Gordon Hirabayashi Interview II
Narrator: Gordon Hirabayashi
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Alice Ito (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 25, 1999
Densho ID: denshovh-hgordon-02-0006

<Begin Segment 6>

TI: Okay. I wanna go back to the YMCA. You talked about some of the activities, the discussions on philosophy. You mentioned earlier some of the discussions, or often debates with the fraternities about some of their policies --

GH: Well, see, if we had debates on those things I found that we were involved in it in university YM, YW. Well, primarily YM because we had a lot of sorority girls in the YW. Not many fraternity boys were in the YM, for some reason. YW active girls were in both, both the YW programs as well as their sorority programs. In fact, I was invited to some events in sororities as a person the sorority girls met in the YM program, YM, YW program.

TI: And how was, how was that? What was that like?

GH: Well, I didn't feel too comfortable at first 'cause you're obviously not in your home base. It's -- you're the only non-white there. And eventually I got to a place where I became color blind. I knew I was not white, but it was a background issue to me. And I only went to places where I was invited.

TI: Well, in this case, where you're invited to a sorority party, you're the only non-white, I imagine the other males -- a lot of them were from the fraternities. How did they make you feel?

GH: Well, they must've, they must've noticed it, and there must've been some that raised questions, and some girls might, might have raised questions. It wasn't the most popular activity I guess. But some of 'em took it as a challenge, I think. And --

TI: How so?

GH: Well, they took it as a challenge you know, racial discrimination, racial prejudice. They were opposed to that, and they were glad to show it, show, to demonstrate that they weren't part of it. So, I didn't wanna be a, I didn't wanna be used for somebody's political exercise, but if it were -- if they were friends of mine, and there was a sincere invitation I took it -- you know, I went to parties without racial implications, where I would go, and I didn't enjoy it, and I didn't go back for the second opportunity of that type. So, it had to meet certain qualifications for me to continue it.

TI: Well, that --

GH: So I continued only those that I felt I enjoyed.

TI: Well, and how did that -- in thinking along those lines, you mentioned the Japanese Students Club and doing some of their social activities. How did those social activities feel to you? Were those, were those the type that you would go back to?

GH: Well, I did the major ones. They had the Fall something, the Valentine's party -- you had to get a date and -- you know it also cost money so there, they're all different kinds of restrictions I had to work out that I could afford. And then there was one party each year that the girls, the girls group counterpart to the Japanese Students Club. It was Fuyokai, the women's group. And they would sponsor Sadie Hawkins Day when they would make a date and they'd take us out. And I got invited to some of those as well. But, other than those activities -- they had some that were interesting. We had joint meetings with some Canadian university students, UBC students came down. They had discussions on comparative Canadian and American this and that, and on some political issues. So we, we had a few like that. But on the whole I found myself increasingly involved in student activities, and I was given more responsibilities in student activities, and became officers of their organization. I didn't have the time nor the money to get involved in too many activities, the students club. So I stayed within certain limited arrangements, I went to major parties. That's what, that's what it amounted to. And then daily I would pass through it. During the day many students pass through JSC.

TI: Only for lunch or something like that?

GH: Yeah, lunch or free period.

TI: But, was it always sort of, because Eagleson Hall was so close to the Japanese Students Club, I imagine that some people would say, "Hey Gordy, why don't you come on over and have lunch or something?"

GH: Well, they might. They mighta done that. And I would pass through there for one thing or another. I, and it was over time that certain choices began to pattern out where primarily I was involved in the Y and only for certain special occasions, Japanese Students Club.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1999 Densho. All Rights Reserved.