Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: James Hirabayashi Interview
Narrator: James Hirabayashi
Interviewer: Megan Asaka
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: July 4, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-hjim-02

<Begin Segment 1>

MA: So today is July 4, 2008, we're here with Professor James Hirabayashi. I'm Megan Asaka, the interviewer, and on the camera is Dana Hoshide. And we're actually in Denver, Colorado, at the Japanese American National Museum conference. So thank you so much for doing this interview with us.

JH: You're very welcome.

MA: So we actually already have an interview with you that goes more into your prewar experiences. So I thought that for this interview today we could talk more about your postwar academic career. So I wanted to start with your time at the University of Washington as an undergrad, and how you became interested in anthropology, and if you could talk about that.

JH: Well, it was about a month after the end of the war, and I had just graduated from high school in Spokane, John Rogers High School. And so got on a bus and returned to Seattle about a month before school opened. And I stayed with the director of the YMCA where my brother stayed before the war. And he took me in, he got me job. Let's see, I was working on flower gardens as a way of getting a little money before school started. And, you know, I was raised on a farm so I knew what things were like. So I was working in the garden one day, and the lady comes by, the lady of the house comes by and says, "Oh, you're planting those bulbs upside down." They were flower bulbs, I didn't know anything about flowers. And she says, "Oh, well, you're Japanese, I guess, so you know what you're doing." [Laughs] So anyway, that's how I started out. Got enough money to enroll at the University of Washington. And I went there. At first I was going to go take something like pre-med, because that's what all parents want you to do. And, but I wasn't sure I wanted to do that, and I was talking to a friend of my brother Gordon's who was going there, and she sort of looked out for me like an older sister. And she said, "Well, why don't you just take pre-major, and take a series of different kinds of courses?" And she says, "Well, why don't you try anthropology?" And I says, "What's that?" And so that's how I took anthropology the first term. But I just took pre-major until I was about a junior, and then people says, "Well, you can't graduate unless you have a major." And so around that time, I went on an archeological dig to Eastern Washington, Moses Lake area. And I liked the companionship and everything else, but I didn't like archeology because it was too much like farm work, and I went to college to get off the farm. And so I went into social and cultural anthropology. And it was around junior year that I went there, I mean, switched majors. And finally got my BA in anthropology, and I started my M.A. program there.

MA: At the University of Washington?

JH: At the University of Washington.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

MA: And what was the focus of your research at that point, kind of when you were starting your M.A.?

JH: At that point, I was just, you know, going according to what the department was emphasizing. And of course, they were in the Pacific Northwest, so there was a lot of emphasis on the Northwest Coast Indians. And so I was just taking courses, and then someone told me, "If you want to go into anthropology, you might specialize on Asia." And they says, "Well, do you know some Japanese? So why don't you specialize in that area?" And I had gone to Japanese school when I was a kid, and that ended right when the war started, of course. And so I started taking Japanese courses, and that really helped me because I was way ahead of everybody else in the class. And so I didn't hardly study at all, but I get, five unit courses, and I get A's, and it really boosted my gradepoint. And so then I applied for a graduate program there, and I got my M.A. degree, and I sort of minored in Far Eastern Studies as well.

MA: Was there any work being done, at least in anthropology, on Japanese American stuff?

JH: No, there was, I think there was some work possibly being done -- well, you know, of course, Frank Miyamoto had done his study. And then before that, well, that was in 1920 that there was an exchange student from Japan, and he got his master's degree in sociology. And he did his master's thesis on Japanese farmers in the state of Washington, and he published, I mean, he submitted it in 1926. So there were things like that, I guess, happening, but it was, there's not much emphasis on ethnicity. It's only after the Ethnic Studies period that all this boom sort of... so anyway, I just decided to focus on Japan. And then I got a Fulbright Scholarship, and it was 1954 or so. I think I got my B.A. degree in '49. And then that year, I think there were six Fulbright Scholarships at the University of Washington, and three of them were in anthropology. And so I went to University of Tokyo. I figured that if I have to do a dissertation, I might as well find out about myself. So that I decided to do field work in Nagano-ken, where my parents are from. And I went up there and found a village in Nagano-ken, and lived up there for a year. And my wife and Lane, Lane was about two years old then, so we lived there for a year and I did my field work.

MA: And what was the focus of your field work? What types of things did you study?

JH: Well, my focus was on, you know, the social culture change in the village. This was after World War II, so there's a considerable amount of social change there. Where the village initially was very, kind of, isolated, it was in a real rural area, isolated, and then after the war, there was this big postwar economic change where industrialization kinds of things happened. And that affected the way in which the village articulated with the rest of the country. And all these social changes that were coming about is what I focused on.

MA: How were you accepted by people there as a Japanese American?

JH: Well, you know, Japanese are very, kind of, hierarchy conscious. And the thing was, however, is right after the war, and I came in as someone associated with the winners, I guess. So, you know, I think the Japanese attitude towards immigrants there, low-class immigrants that went off, so however, because of the nature of the war, I think I was treated more or less like an equal, I guess, and they knew I was in the university and all that. So that's the kind of feeling that I had. I thought there was some kind of, somewhat a kind of reserve, but anyway, they knew my parents had come from the region, and so I think it was as good as it could have been. But later on, I've noticed certain kinds of changes. I think that, sort of the attitude towards the overseas Nikkei, I think there's a kind of, I feel kind of a superior attitude amongst some of the people.

MA: Among people in Japan?

JH: Yes.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

JH: But anyway, after I finished the research, and I came back to the University of Washington, I worked a year as kind of a researcher. And then I applied to Harvard, and there were a couple of professors that knew my professors in Japan and all that kind of stuff. So that through those kinds of connections, I got into the, what's called the social... well, I got into the anthropology program.

MA: At Harvard, the PhD program.

JH: Yes. And, however, I get into a program that was much more oriented to social sciences, so that I had to take some sociology and psychology as well.

MA: Is that compared with the program at the University of Washington?

JH: Yeah. It's quite a drastic change for me, because going to the University of Washington during, right after the war, and then going back to Harvard, even though I had a PhD, I mean, a Master's degree, my peers over there at Harvard, you know, they're educated at those small liberal arts colleges, Swarthmore and Haverford, Bryn Mawr and places like that. And I found out that I wasn't really educated in a general sense. You know, I didn't have a good literature background in English, any of that kind of stuff. And so, but I managed to hang in there, and I wrote my dissertation on the research that we did in Japan. I had to shift it around quite a bit because the orientation at Harvard is quite different from the University of Washington.

MA: Were there other Asian Americans at the, especially in the humanities at that point?

JH: No. I think when I got my PhD in anthropology, there were something like a half a dozen other Japanese Americans who had gotten their PhDs in anthropology in the whole country. And then I was hired at San Francisco State. I wanted to, well, as I say, my family's in Seattle and all that, and I didn't want to go back to the University of Washington because when you're a student, it's hard to come in as a peer, you know. And so I was just looking hopefully to get somewhere in the west, and then this opening came out at San Francisco State. And I was only the second Asian American on the faculty at San Francisco State.

MA: Who was the first one? Was that Hayakawa?

JH: The first one was S.I. Hayakawa. And, of course, he had an international reputation as a semanticist. And then after... well, I was hired in 1959, and I was busy just trying to fit into the program. Anthropology's an interesting field, and I was focusing on ethnic groups in San Francisco as a source of field material for students, you know, and all that.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

MA: So you sort of switched, then, your focus a little bit, when you went to San Francisco, from more of the Far East Japanese...

JH: Well, to some extent, because there were a lot of different ethnicities, and, you know, if I'm going to train students in field work, well, they're available there. But what happened was that we put in a grant to the U.S. government, National Institute of Mental Health had a grant program, and we focused on the urbanization of American Indians in the Bay Area. There was a program to shift Indians off of the reservations and into the urban areas. Because the reservations weren't in very economically good, places, you know. So they had a special program to shift Indians into urban areas, into jobs and training and all that. And so I got a bunch of students involved in a research project, and we did this study. And it was quite interesting. Some of the, I got students to focus in on different kinds of tribes, and they would go to the reservations to see what conditions there were.

MA: And then they would compare to sort of the more urban conditions?

JH: Yeah, compare, and I traveled in the Southwest at that time, went into Pueblo and Navajo groups. Navajo were quite interesting because they were trained as special linguistic in the army also, interpreters, so some secret codes would be sent out in Navajo language, which Japanese didn't know. And anyway, I would go to some of their ceremonies, and they would have veterans doing ceremonies, and they cleanse themselves from... and sometimes they would have Japanese scalps as part of the ceremony. I said, "Oh, my golly." But anyway, after that project, soon after that project, there was a colleague of mine who happened to be working on a project in Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria. He was training administrators there, and he's a psychologist. And I played on the faculty baseball team with him. All that baseball experience I had in camp came in... well, and I played on the social science team. And the project that he was on had an anthropologist who was moving to another area of Nigeria, and so he wrote and says, "Hey, do you want to come to Africa?" I says, "Heck, yes." Because I hadn't, I'm not an African specialist, so that I hadn't taken any courses. And I figured if I don't go there with an opportunity like this, I'll never get a chance.

So I took leave and I went to eastern Nigeria to work for the Eastern Nigerian government in rural community development. And three months after I got there, Eastern Nigeria seceded and became Biafra. And three months after that, the Biafran civil war started, and it started about fifteen miles from where I was working, so I could hear the artillery and everything. And it was, so I was one step ahead of the army. Oh, by the way, I should say that they were fighting over oil then, in about 1967, and they're still fighting over oil there. And the Biafran civil war, there were a million Nigerians that were killed. International powers jumped in on both sides because of the oil reserves. There's one other large oil reserves at the mouth of the Niger River there, and it's still bad, bad, bad there, after all these years.

Anyway, I was one step ahead of the army coming out of there, and I got back to San Francisco State. As soon as I got there, all this civil rights movements, middle of that, there was the free speech movement at Berkeley, and then the students, the Asian American students, when I got back, they'd gone down to me and they asked me to the faculty adviser for their group called Asian American Political Alliance.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

MA: I actually -- sorry, I wanted to go back a little bit and ask you a question about Nigeria.

JH: Oh, all right.

MA: And how you were treated there as a Japanese American, and what your experience was?

JH: Well, you know, I was, of course, a stranger by the Nigerians themselves. They thought I was Chinese. Because the Chinese have restaurants and laundries, it seems, all over the world, there's been movement. So that in any big city you go in, that's what I did, is I'd look up and find the Chinese restaurants and get food that way.

MA: Was there a Chinese community?

JH: There wasn't a community, but, well, not, not huge Chinatowns and things like that. They're just scattered around, a few in each of the urban areas. And when I'd go to the native markets, little kids would run after me and say, "Chinee, Chinee, Chinee," you know, things like that. So, and then there were hardly any Japanese around. I think in Eastern Nigeria, I heard that there were a couple in one of the southern cities, but I never ran into any. And when I was there in the capital city of Eastern Nigeria, Enugu, there was a Korean doctor, worked for the World Health Organization. And he grew up in Korea at the time of Japanese occupation, so he was fluent in Japanese. And then while I was there, the television people in Eastern Nigeria hired a young fellow from Japan to come and help set up their TV station. And so he arrived on the scene, and he was, oh, I would say he was still in his twenties. And hardly knew any English, but you know, technology, I guess, vocabulary is the same, so he was working there, and he used to meet with the Korean doctor and me, just so that we could speak Japanese and eat Japanese food, you know, we'd cook it ourselves. And when the war started, I was afraid to... the Korean doctor got shipped out right away by the World Health Organization, and then I got orders from the Ford Foundation I was working for, to go back to the capital city. And I was afraid to leave him there by himself, so that I went over to the TV station and I argued with them. I says, "Hey, his family is flying into the capital city, we have to go and pick up his family," and I just told them a line, you know, and got him to go with me. And we drove to the border where the separation from Eastern Nigeria and federal territory. There's a bridge going across the Niger River. It's like the Golden Gate Bridge, it's a suspension bridge. And they had federal troops on one side and Nigerian troops, I mean, East Nigerian troops on the other side, the Biafran troops, and they wouldn't let us cross. So I sent the car back with the, chauffeur back to the capital, and then the ferry was running underneath the bridge as if there were no war at all. And so we just jumped the ferry and went over to the other side, Ford Foundation met us, and we drove back to the capital city of Enugu, and I took him over to the embassy there. And they were really thankful, they were worried about him, didn't know what was happening. So that's the last I saw of him, then I came back.

MA: What were people, especially in maybe Eastern Nigeria, what were people's views towards the United States?

JH: Well, you know, I don't think that they were very much aware of what -- you know, they knew that various forces were at it, and it was kind of a funny alignment. The British were the colonialists there for fifty years. And Nigeria got independence around 1950, so that it was independent only about half a dozen years before I got there. And the problem in Nigeria is there's something like 250 different tribes there. And colonialism in Europe, you know, the European powers would divide up according to their politics and whatever, you know. And so, as I say, there were 250 different tribes, and there are three big ones. And then during the Biafran war, the British were still, had a lot of power. And they were on one side, and then there were, I guess the Russians and even the Israeli had some. So that the fallout was sort of different. And the United States, although they were officially neutral, I saw a lot of surplus stuff, GI stuff there. And so they were much more on the Biafran side, I think. So anyway, the ordinary people, of course, they were, they didn't have power, you know. So they sort of treated us, put us on pedestals and that kind of stuff. And what I was trying to do was help in any way in the rural area. And I, the Minister of Rural Development, he just told me, "We've got all kinds of problems. Do what you think you need to do."

And so I joined up with a group of medical missionaries that were Lutheran, and I held seminars with them. We were in a minority group area and they, they were there to proselytize and that kind of stuff. You know, learning the language and translating the Bible and that sort of thing. And I thought, "Well, that's a way I could communicate with the people," and so I got them to start doing anthropological kind of work, sort of analyzing the societies and then finding out what kind of problems there were, and especially in the health area. And my notion was to do ethnographies in all these groups, find out about their, their medical practices, and then to try to get their medical practices merged with modern medicine. You have a combination where native beliefs and... they knew what modern medicine could do and that kind of stuff. And I was, my goal was to just sort of combine these to make a kind of an overall health program for the people. And that's what I was doing, I was hiring young people who spoke English to help me collect data on what kind of family structure and that kind of stuff. And medical beliefs and all that sort of thing. And in the middle of that, the war started, and so I had to sort of drop everything and come running out.

MA: So how long were you in Nigeria?

JH: Well, I was in there, oh, maybe about eight months or so.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

MA: And then you were sent back to San Francisco?

JH: Then I got back to San Francisco just in time for the fall semester. And then the fall semester year before the strike.

MA: So that was 196-...

JH: '67 or so. Yeah, something like 1967 I got back. And as I say, everything was gearing up there, and the civil rights movement and everything like that. Then the Asian American Political Alliance, I think it was first formed by Yuji Ichioka at Berkeley. And I think some of the students at State talked to him, and they started a chapter there at San Francisco State. And since it was a student organization, it needed a faculty advisor. And when I showed up, they glommed onto me and I didn't know what was going on, so I said, "Okay." And then their, the Asian American Political Alliance became part of the coalition, the Third World Liberation Front.

MA: So the Asian American Political Alliance, was it Japanese American, Chinese American? What was the ethnic makeup?

JH: Yeah, well, it was mainly Japanese American, but there were Chinese Americans in there. The Chinese students had a separate organization, a Chinese students organization, which was much more, all Chinese. So I don't know why the Japanese students didn't have a Japanese students organization or something like that, they just, I guess the radical Sansei got together, and then they talked to Yuji. So there were Chinese, a few Chinese and maybe other people in that initial, Korean, maybe, I don't know.

MA: And can you talk a little bit about San Francisco State University at that time and what the student body was like, especially in comparison with Berkeley? Because those two are oftentimes mentioned together, but they were quite different.

JH: Yeah, well, of course, I didn't know what was going on at Berkeley very much. There was this free speech movement. As I say, just during this period, I was in Africa, so that I was sort of trying to catch up. And the other thing that affected me at State in regards to these things is that my officemate started a labor union, the AFL, I guess, American Federation of Labor. You know, we had this university professor, professor's organization, which is more of a professor's organization, which is more of a professional organization, it wasn't a labor union. And my (officemate) and some of his colleagues thought that we needed really a more vigorous labor oriented. And so they started the union, and they were often meeting in my office. And, you know, in those days, I just wanted to keep my nose clean, get my tenure, you know, get some security, inasmuch as Japanese weren't getting jobs like that. They would get the degrees at the universities and end up, as they say, working on their farms, parents' farms and vegetable stands and that sort of thing, you know.

MA: Right, so the stakes were maybe a little different for you than for your white colleagues.

JH: Yeah. So I was, and then, you know, trying to learn how to teach and all that. And unfortunately, the educational system is such that you get trained as an academician in your field to do research and that kind of thing, but you're not trained how to teach, really, you're not in education. So that, gosh, when I started to teach, I had to sort of learn on the spot what education was. So if I were to do it over again, I would have taken some education classes, learned something about the profession of teaching as well. Anyway, that's what I was doing. But when my officemate was involved with starting the union, it was easier for me to join rather than to argue why I should stay out. [Laughs] But with this atmosphere, I just became a charter member of the, a union.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

MA: In going back to the Asian American Political Alliance, what types of things were they fighting for or what was their mission?

JH: Well, at that time, there was, you know, as I say, there were things associated with the, with the civil rights. Civil rights was fair play and employment and housing and all these kind of things. And I was involved in some of those kinds of things in Mill Valley where I lived, it's kind of an upper-middle-class area. And so we would go down and send a black couple in to a real estate agent, and they would say, "Oh, that place is already rented," or something like that. Then we'd send a white couple in, and of course, it would be available. And so we'd go and picket the place. We did things like that. And similar things were happening in employment, companies were being picketed and that sort of thing. And then, the students began pushing for courses that were more oriented towards their own life experiences. And at that time, there was a kind of a radical teacher by the name of Nathan Hare that the university hired, sort of as a way of hedging their bets against the pressure that they were getting from the students that was building up. And as I say, the ethnic student organizations formed a coalition called the Third World Liberation Front, and they're the ones that pushed and started the strike. But the, that year, this coalition got involved in the social sciences because the social science division decided to organize a kind of ethnic studies class in response to all this pressure that's building up, and Nathan Hare was going to give the lectures. But it was the social science division, that's where I was in, so that the dean came to me and said, "Would you be the official faculty member for that class?" And I said, "Okay," sounded interesting and all that. And so I started to organize the class, talking to Nathan Hare about his lectures. And I was getting my graduate students in anthropology to become TAs in that class.

MA: I'm just curious about the curriculum for that class and what you focused on.

JH: Well, you know, this is what I was going, leading up to, is that when I met with Nathan Hare and the leaders of the Third World Liberation Front, all the student leaders, the Black Students Union and the Latino organization, Chicano organization, and the Native Americans, we met to talk about how we should organize the class and what we should lecture. And the students just lit into me. And I had my assistants there ready to go, and they said, "Nathan Hare's going to do all the lecturing, you don't lecture at all." And then they said, "We're gonna do the TA work, not your, your anthropology students." And I was wondering, "What the heck is going on?" And all during this period, I was trying to catch up on what was going on politically. And so I was treating that course as, like any other course we where the teacher has sort of control over the curriculum and everything else. And so I was adapting, and I says, "Well, if you guys don't want me to lecture, that's fine with me." And then that fall, I think maybe we only had about a month of classes, and the strike started. So we never finished that term. And the strike lasted for several months, and after that, you know, I was eventually appointed the... well, the strike ended in the, we won the right to start Ethnic Studies, there were faculty positions allocated and everything else. And the first year, I was splitting my time fifty percent with anthropology, fifty percent with Asian American Studies. And I was appointed the chair of Asian American studies.

MA: I was curious about the strike. Did faculty also strike with the students?

JH: Yeah. The students struck first, and then the faculty union joined them.

MA: Which you were a part of, okay.

JH: Yeah. So I found myself on the picket line right away, and picketing with the students.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

MA: So also during that time, Hayakawa, Professor Hayakawa was appointed president of the college.

JH: Yeah, he, because of all this turmoil, I think the president resigned. And there was a faculty group that was supposed to be looking for another president to substitute. And if you're on the committee to select a president, you aren't supposed to run yourself. And somehow or another, I guess Hayakawa got to talking to the Board of Trustees, and they got him to become the president.

MA: What was your relationship with him like before the strike, when you two were just professors and faculty?

JH: He also lived, lived in Mill Valley, and so, you know, he, well, as a matter of fact, his kids would commute with me sometimes. And there was a niece of his that came to live with him from Japan, and she commuted with me. So, you know, we had sort of a casual relationship. He invited me to the theater one time, and we went to see "Rhinoceros" or something like that. And he always invited me to his New Year's Day cocktail party. You know, he would have all these hoity-toity people there, so that I used to end up in the kitchen talking to his maid and eating his Japanese pickles that he used to make himself. [Laughs] And the year of the strike, I didn't get my invitation. When he -- he was involved in the ruckus during the early period. He jumped onto the, you know, there's the famous event there, and things like that happened. And then after the strike -- well, it was even before the strike was over, I had occasion of having to debate him in the Japanese American community. And the Japanese American community, particularly the JACL, the leadership of the JACL is fairly conservative. And I never joined the JACL formally, I would do things with them and things like that, but I never joined them because they hassled Gordon during Gordon's trial and all of that.

MA: What did they, how did they hassle him?

JH: Well, they thought Gordon was rocking the boat. What the JACL wanted to do is to cooperate with the government and go meekly off to camps to show how loyal they were to the United States and all that kind of stuff. So it was the leadership of the JACL who took that position. And so my other brother and I, Ed, in between Gordon and me, we never joined the JACL. And then during the strike, however, the JACL, the San Francisco JACL had a subcommittee, the Civil Rights Committee. And in that group were all the liberals, and they supported the students. But the leadership of the JACL were on Hayakawa's side. And that year, at the annual dinner, they invited Hayakawa as a keynote, and the students went over there and picketed. So we had things like that, but on the Civil Rights Committee, there was people like Edison Uno, and he's a very interesting character in and of himself. But there were, you know, the various liberals, including people like Kathy Reyes, who was, who was sort of accused of being a cohort of Tokyo Rose, because she was in Japan at that time, married a Filipino guy and was working in the radio business there. But anyway, there are people like that that really supported the students. And eventually, that Civil Rights Committee split off and formed the Golden Gate chapter of the JACL in San Francisco.

MA: Did they split off because they were maybe frustrated with the politics?

JH: Whatever, yeah. And I became a charter member of that group, but I never went to any of the meetings. [Laughs]

MA: So you talked about a debate that you had with Hayakawa. What was the topic?

JH: Yeah, well, the JACL wanted to, you know, wanted to find out what was going on, and so they asked Hayakawa to a meeting, and they asked me to be... and people from the Civil Rights Committee, and also including a fellow named (Reverend) Lloyd Wake. Lloyd Wake is the minister of the Methodist church, and they had a Japanese American congregation in San Francisco. And he was a liberal and supportive of the liberal causes and that kind of stuff. And so it's, we had a general discussion about what the strike was all about and why we were striking. And Hayakawa giving, he's always been sort of an assimilationist. And I was kind of, well, surprised because initially I thought of him as being a lot more liberal, because his wife was on the board of the Berkeley Co-op and stuff like that. And so, and the wife was related to Frank Lloyd Wright, I think she was a niece or something. And her brother eventually inherited Frank Lloyd Wright's school in Arizona, that kind of stuff. So I thought, you know, but Hayakawa was continuing to shift more towards the right, and after being president of San Francisco State, he then became a senator representing the Republican party. And 'til the day -- I used to see him every once in a while -- he always was, pushed the assimilationist kind of theme, and his writing was all in that area.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

MA: I was curious about the Japanese American community in general in the Bay Area, in San Francisco at that time. What was the state of the community and what, can you describe that a little bit?

JH: You know, I wasn't a part of the Japanese American community in San Francisco before the strike. You know, the Japanese American community is kind of insular, so when you come in from the outside, unless you spent a lot of time trying to enter into the scene. So I never did, because I was busy trying to settle in at San Francisco State, and that was my main problem. And then when we initially came to San Francisco, I couldn't get housing right away because of discrimination. Because I was looking for apartments in a, the better districts because the schools were -- I found out which grade schools were better, because I wanted the kids to have a good education. And when I first drove into San Francisco, I remember driving around the Twin Peaks area because I heard... and there'd be signs, I'd go over there, and they said, "Oh, the place has been rented," or something like that, and I couldn't get in. And then we even had to sleep in the car one night because we couldn't find a place to stay. And finally, we found somewhere in San Francisco, and then my wife started looking around to, so that we could buy a house right away. And we were looking various places, and then found this house in Mill Valley, and Mill Valley has real good schools. And so we found a house there, and as I say, Hayakawa happened to be living there also, but we didn't, of course, know him at first. And that's, it's mainly because of the elementary schools that we were making these kinds of choices. And you know, there weren't very many Japanese living there. There weren't very many ethnics living there, except in a place called Marin City, a housing development that developed there during the war, because they were recruiting people to work in the shipyards in Sausalito. And lot of African Americans came up from south, and Marin City is still largely African American. But the rest of Mill Valley, there's not too many ethnics, except there's a community in San Rafael of Latin Americans.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

MA: So going back to the strike...

JH: Yes.

MA: ...can you talk about the impact of the strike on, on academia and in general, what the impact was?

JH: Well... how should I say it? As far as I'm concerned, the irony of the strike was that the very people we had to force to recognize us, that is, the administration and the Board of Trustees, still sat in judgment of everything we did, because they controlled the budget, all right? Now, who's on the Board of Trustees? You don't know their names, but without knowing that, you knew that they were white, old, rich, males, businessmen or lawyers. And how do they get there? They're appointed by the governor. Who does the governor appoint? He appoints people who have contributed to his campaign and stuff like that. So they tend to be somewhat conservative. And they want the educational system to train students that are some value to them. And, "What the heck is Ethnic Studies anyway?" They're not interested in Ethnic Studies. Now, the administrators at San Francisco State are, they're passed on by the Board of Trustees, of course, the president and people like that.

And so, you know, there are things like, I'll give you an example. The Chinese American students wanted a course on Chinese American community. I says, "Okay, we'll go into Chinatown and we'll find somebody who's lived that life, thought about it, written about it, and we'll hire him." So we find somebody like that, and we go back, and I go to the Dean of Faculty, and I said, "We want to hire this person." And the dean says, "What's his qualifications?" I'd say, "What do you mean?" He says, "What's his degrees?" And I said, "What the heck has that got to do with anything?" I said, "If I applied for the job, you guys would be happy because I have a fancy Ivy League degree. But the only way I can teach that course is as an anthropologist because I'm not Chinese American." So I'm going to start with anthropological models of analysis like kinship systems, patrilineal societies, so on and so forth. All the theories and all that kind of frame of reference would be anthropology. Well, no Chinese in Chinatown goes around with anthropological models of kinship in his head. His world view is something else again. And if we're going to teach Chinese American kids about self identity and community, we don't start with outside/in models, we start with inside/out models. After all, whose definitions of us put us into concentration camps? It wasn't ours. So anyway, that's what we needed to do in Ethnic Studies. Well, even if I talked the Dean of Faculty into hiring this guy -- oh, by the way. Do you know why he asks that? It's because San Francisco State is accredited every ten years or so. One of the criteria for accreditation is how many PhDs you got on your staff. You know, this reminds me of a quote by a social scientist. It said, "The system secretes its gastric juices so as to polish the rough stones of dissent into smooth pearls of conformity." And right away, if I hire somebody from the community and he wants a promotion or anything like that, he has to publish in the traditional journals, overseen by traditionalists. So the system has its way of, even after we get people with our orientation, to pressure them into -- and I can't complain and say, "Hey, you can't have promotions." They're raising their family and everything like that. So little by little, I think it gets eroded away.

And the same sort of thing happens with classes. The Black Students Union had a class on African American music. And so I wanted to hire people like John Handy, an internationally-known... and so I tried to split time with the, with the music department. Have Handy half time music, half time in black studies. And the music department said, "Oh, you know, we don't have enough of a position even for half time." He was teaching one course there. Well, gosh, who controls the music department? It's people who focus on nineteenth century Western music, symphonies, you know. There's nothing wrong with that, but John Handy plays to an audience that's quite large, and it's part of our music tradition now. And so it's things like that that make it very difficult to innovate in the educational system, because it's based on tradition.

MA: So Ethnic Studies as it was envisioned by the students of the Third World Liberation Front, is that even possible to exist in academia, in an academic environment like San Francisco State or Berkeley?

JH: Well, it was a start. And we did make a lot of changes, and it still exists to some extent. My feeling is that down the pike, if the trend continues and Ethnic Studies comes to be looking like any other department, then it's time to do something else. But you know, this, although we've made a lot of changes in race relations in this society, it's not gone by a long shot. Look what's happening with Obama right now, you know. So it's, lot of it has changed in form, and it's gotten a little bit more subtle and things like that.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

JH: But you know, when I was working at San Francisco State and I was... let me see, I think it was in the mid-'60s, I happened to latch onto a short-term research project in Guam. They had experienced a typhoon, and one of my students' older brother, an architect, his firm was hiring to make recommendations for the rebuilding process after this typhoon. They sent me to Guam to do research on, with people, to see what kind of housing they wanted. And, of course, after a typhoon, all they're interested in is typhoon-proof concrete houses and that kind of stuff. And much more, the problem was they couldn't afford to do that. And so what I did was I went there and I lived there. I took leave from State, and I lived with a family, and I started to find out the cultural patterns. So I got some ideas as to what they thought family life was like, just by staying there. And then I found out that they couldn't afford to build the kind of houses they wanted. But they had a mutual aid system, neighborhood system, so I did a lot of investigation there, and found out how the mutual aid system worked, with the relatives, with the neighborhood, and the kind of patterns that they had. And all this fell apart during the typhoon, because everybody needed work, help at the same time. And so I recommended that we build the houses and have it designed so that you just have the roof extended, and maybe the kitchen and that kind of thing that needs all the equipment, but leave the rest of it undone, and then to invoke the mutual aid system to help finish that. And then to stagger the program because everybody needing help at the same time, it would not work. So that these are the kinds of recommendations that are made during the short stay in Guam. I forgot exactly what your question was.

MA: Oh, we were just talking about the state of Ethnic Studies.

JH: Oh, that's what I had in mind. All right, now when I went to Guam to the capital city of Agana, I looked like everybody else. Guam, as a matter of fact, had been under Japan's control for a while. Anyway, and, you know, when I went into the stores and everything else, I got waited on in turn, nobody shunted me aside or anything. And I suddenly realized, after all these years, after teaching at a university, that I was saying, "Oh, this is what it feels like to be equal and free." Well, all during my life, and particularly during World War II, subjected to all kinds of subtle and overt racism. Kicked out of restaurants, I've been kicked out of public pools, and rocks thrown at me and stuff like that. And then all kinds of other sorts of subtle discrimination all along. And I sort of internalized all this, so I was sort of, wherever I went, I was expecting these kinds of, it's normal. Well, when I went to Guam -- well, when I was in Japan, of course, the language is different, and so I just didn't even think about things like that. But in Guam, it was English, and the signs were in... and then I get this, suddenly, I thought, "Oh, this is what it feels like to be equal." I'd just internalized all this. So that this is part of why I keep fighting for civil rights.

When the Iraq war started, we formed, at the Museum, we formed coalitions with the Arab American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. And I've met with Arab American Studies, I think it was, maybe it was Michigan as well, in conferences and things like that. We need to go a long way. So conferences like this one here is very important. We keep pushing.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

MA: So I wanted to talk a little bit more about Ethnic Studies, and what you see as the future of Ethnic Studies, and what you would like to see as the future of Ethnic Studies.

JH: Well, it's kind of hard for me to think what the future might be. It's, you know, I can't predict what's going on in the country anymore, and with the world. Human beings are supposed to be intelligent, and we keep killing each other. And as I say, oil was a problem in Nigeria when I was there in the '60s, and it's still, Nigeria is corrupt. It was corrupt then. When I went there, I taught there for two years. Oh, after I finished about six years as the Dean of Ethnic Studies, I was, you know, getting continually frustrated. A friend of mine had been in my department at Anthropology, and taught two years in Northern Nigeria. And he says, "Well, you want to come here and replace me?" And I says, "Heck, yes." And so I went to Northern Nigeria, at Ahmadu Bello University, and I taught there for two years. And I tried to teach the students about what we were doing in Ethnic Studies, and about self-determination and all that. And I tried to tell them not to, you know, copy, emulate British colonialism. And I don't think they listened to me very much because all during this time, the elite saw how they could gather in the money by controlling power and everything like that. And it's been that way ever since.

And after two years of teaching there, I returned to San Francisco State. And I didn't want to start teaching right away after all that experience, so that I had a sabbatical leave stored up. I had requested a sabbatical leave right before the strike. And since they went on strike, they wouldn't act on any of that. And I heard that I got it, but then after the strike they asked me to be chair of Asian American Studies and then the Dean of Ethnic Studies, so that I never took the sabbatical. And I wrote back from Nigeria saying, "I want it now." And I took it, and I backpacked the long way home, through East Africa, Kenya, and then my brother (Ed) in between Gordon and myself was a foreign service officer, and he's working in Ethiopia at the time. So I visited him, and it was the tenth year anniversary of the Marxist revolution in Ethiopia, and so that they were having a big celebration. There were posters two stories high of Marx and Engels. So I went to spend a month in India, just bumming around, very interesting. And, you know, I was affected by the poverty there. Everywhere you went, people were begging for money. But I got to the various sites like the Taj Mahal and places like that, you know. Taj Mahal in moonlight is what people would always say, so I managed to get there. Then went up to Nepal and to Burma, Thailand. And while in Thailand, I went right up to the edge of China into the Golden Triangle where all the opium comes from, heroin, and then into Indonesia. From Indonesia, Singapore, and then into the Philippines, and then into Micronesia. And I went to Truk, where the Japanese fleet was sunk. You know, Truk was part of Japanese territory at one time, between World War I and World War II. And then to Hawaii, and then I ended up in Mexico where Lane was doing his field research, and back home. It took about six months. And it was really a wonderful trip for somebody trained in anthropology.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

MA: I actually wanted to ask you also about your views about the state of Japanese American studies in particular, now.

JH: Well, I'm still concerned about, you know, whether, where it's going. It's very difficult to tell these days. The, there's always been transformation within the Japanese American community all along, and it's kind of difficult to figure out where it's going. I still participate in the various kinds of activities like at the Museum and at the Japanese American Historical Society in San Francisco, and I go to all the festivals and that kind of stuff. But it's hard for me to tell where the current generation is going. And then, of course, the culture and the communication system and all that's rapidly transforming now. So I'm wondering where it's going.

MA: Especially after the Nisei generation, you know, is gone. What will happen?

JH: Well, at the Museum, I keep saying that, well, our job is to explain as best we can what happened to the Issei in the context of what was happening to them in the whole society. We have to do the same thing for the Nisei, the conditions changed, the transformation from the Issei community to the Nisei community. And then there have been changes with the Sansei, particularly things like the strike and things like that. But the Museum puts all these kinds of things out so that people understand what happened and why in the context of their times. And it's for the next generation to look at all this, decide for themselves in the future context what they want to do. But we can't tell them what to do. The best we can do is say, "Hey, look at what happened, and what's there, and what meaning does it have for you? How do you want to take all this and alter your own lives to suit what you want to do?" As far as I'm concerned, that's what the Museum is there for.

MA: So you see the role of, like, community-based organizations being pretty strong and continuing Japanese American studies?

JH: Yeah. But for them, I don't expect them to just emulate and copy things as if the context of their times is not changing, you know. So I think we're not only in the communication field, but globalization. This is why this is quite interesting for Lane and I to be involved in the International Project, where we got funds from the Japan Foundation to do this International Project. So we gathered together scholars from North, Central, South America and Japan, we had all kinds of seminars, and so we had to have interpreters, 'cause there was Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese and English. Although these were professionals, they weren't academicians, so that I could tell between English and Japanese that the interpretation wasn't exactly on, you know. It's like looking at subtitles on movies, you know.

MA: And what was the focus of this conference that you were talking about?

JH: Oh, well, we have a book called New Worlds, New Lives that was a result of the project, and it's, Akemi Kikumura and Lane and I are the co-editors. And we wanted to compare the different kinds of adaptations, innovations, on the part of overseas Japanese communities. I'll give you a for-instance. The women got -- you know, we split them up into smaller groups. You know, it's hard to get academicians to agree on anything. And here you have four different languages to deal with, in addition. And it's interdisciplinary. I have enough trouble trying to get academicians in one discipline in one language to cooperate on anything. Well, so anyway, we got the women to form a group, and Audrey Kobayashi from Canada was talking about all the, the majority of immigrants to Canada these days are young women. And what's happening is that they're leaving Japan to escape Japanese paternalism. And when they get over there, of course, they run into Euro American paternalism. [Laughs] So Audrey starts talking to the ones from Mexico and Peru and Brazil, and they're talking about their Mediterranean type paternalism. And so it's a real, kind of an interesting comparison between what happens when you get one culture bumping up against so many others, and then we learn out of this. Again, we find out what's happening, what people are doing in the context of where they're, where they're at. And I think this is important things for the current generation to look at. And this is only the first step in research of this sort. But because of this project, I was able to travel back down to Latin America, and of course, Lane is fluent in Spanish, although when we were in Brazil, the taxicab drivers would say, "Hey, you're speaking Spanish with a Mexican accent," you know. But Lane and I went to Brazil and to Peru, Ecuador, and Guatemala when he was about a sophomore in college.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

JH: When Lane was in high school, he was part of the rock band generation, and he's smoking pot, you know. He was playing for a group called Muscadine Blues Band, and I don't know if he really actually, I think he actually went to school, but I don't know if he was doing anything. [Laughs] Sometimes I'd catch him sitting on the furnace grate laughing to himself, and I'm saying, "Oh, my God," you know, what happens. Well, he saw his friends flipping out, and all of a sudden in senior year in high school, he made a hundred degree turn. And he was tutoring kids at Tam High, and then he got into Sonoma State in a special program. It was small seminars from the get-go, and the Hutchins School program at Sonoma State. And he went through that program to get his liberal arts degree, and when he was about a junior, I sent him down to Brazil where my older brother was a foreign service officer in Brazil at that time, just for him to get some cross-cultural experience. And I caught up with him on my month's vacation, and I was Dean of Ethnic Studies at that time. And we traveled back together, and he didn't know where to go, so I went to the places I wanted to go. And we went to the Japanese community in San Palo, and we went to Machu Picchu in Peru, and we went to Indian markets in Ecuador, and we did all these kinds of things. Guatemala was also the same thing, Mexico City. So after that trip, he was between junior year and senior year, and he says, "Oh, in graduate school, I'm going to major in anthropology." And I thought one anthropologist in the family was enough, you know, but I says, "If you're gonna do that, then I'm gonna send you to Berkeley," and I had some colleagues there. One of my colleagues is, from Harvard, is Laura Nader, Ralph's older sister. So I sent him to study with her, and she sent him down to Oaxaca, where she had done field work. And he followed the Mountain Zapotec into Mexico City, and did a study of the urbanization of Indians in Mexico City for his dissertation. But once he got his degree, he applied for a post-doc at Asian American Studies Center.


JH: UCLA, and he's been in Asian American Studies ever since.

MA: Right, so it's interesting he has this background in Latin American studies.

JH: Right. So I got him involved in the Museum project, and Akemi Kikumura's trained in anthropology as well. So we traveled to Brazil and to Chile. Akemi had some connections down there, and it was quite interesting for us to go to Chile. This is mainly postwar Japanese.

MA: You mean people who, Japanese who had come, immigrated after World War II?

JH: After the war, yeah. So it's really quite a different scene. After Japan's economic boom -- of course, there are more Japanese in Brazil than the whole of North America. Because after the immigration stopped in the U.S., it shifted to Brazil. And so they're one generation behind. When we got there, all the Niseis down there were Sansei age, 'cause they started their migration about 19, mid '20s. And anyway, we got to, in Chile, it's been after Japan had an economic development after the war, then their connection. So the population there is really much more Japanese. Japanese-Japanese. And then, because University of Colorado made, joined a group to sponsor a festival in Santiago, Cuba. If you have educational reasons for going to Cuba, you can go directly, you don't have to go through another country. So University of Colorado had this for the festival in Santiago. And so I went with Lane to Santiago, then we went up to Havana. And Havana, Evelyn had a connection with a Chinese American artist there.

MA: This is Evelyn...

JH: Hu-DeHart.

MA: Hu-DeHart.

JH: And so she gave us the address of this Cuban Chinese artist, and he took us around Havana. Really kind of interesting, he joined the Chinese Brigade during the revolution, and fought with Fidel and Che. And his artwork incorporates all that kind of stuff. So it was really interesting to go there, and there is a Japanese colony there.

MA: In Cuba?

JH: In Cuba. Isle of Youth, I guess it's a, they put Japanese in camps, but it was just the males that were taken there.

MA: This was during World War II?

JH: Yeah. And the females and kids stayed wherever they were. And there was a guy named Mikasa who was a student at that time, and joined the revolution. And he did travel up to San Francisco not so long ago, and I was able to meet him. But someday I want to go and visit that Japanese community there in Cuba.

MA: What is the, I guess, status of Chinese, Japanese, in Cuba? Did you get a sense of that when you were traveling?

JH: Well, you know, as I say, both of these people were part of the revolution, so that they're still working in the small, you know, they have small community groups. I never got to go to the Japanese section during my visit, but with the Chinese, the neighborhood group is still operating as a Chinese Cuban group. And I guess with all the fuss and the embargo and everything else, what I have to say is that when I was wandering around Havana, I didn't see any homeless on the streets like I do in San Francisco. So that can't be all bad. [Laughs]

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

MA: So I wanted to shift gears a little bit and talk about your brother, Gordon, you know, who was one of only a few individuals to challenge the curfew and removal orders. And I guess the impact of what Gordon did, his decision to protest, on you personally.

JH: Well, you know, I was fifteen at the time of the internment, incarceration. And actually, they took my parents out of Tule Lake to attend the trial just when I applied for work furlough to go to Idaho. Schools weren't any good in Tule, no chairs and no books, nothing. They closed down the school so that we could harvest potatoes in the Klamath Falls area, and then the deputy sheriff came down and got my parents to attend the trial. And my father had arranged with his friends to take me along with them to Idaho, so I just quit school and went to Idaho, and I worked on a farm for a year. They were sugar beets and potatoes, and I'd never seen sugar beet before in my life. If I ever see another potato again, I hope it's cooked and on my plate. [Laughs] Anyway, after a year of working, we stayed there in Idaho and went to high school there for one year. And then Gordon had just left prison for his internment case, or his curfew case. You know that he protested against the incarceration first, and while he was there, they found his diary that he kept at the university, where he just decided not to obey the curfew, and he just stayed in the library and studied at night. They found that... I mean...

MA: Diary?

JH: Diary, and they added the violation of curfew. And so it was two things that he was tried for: internment and curfew. And then I think the judge, I don't know if he felt sorry for him or what, he gave him sentences for both so-called "crimes" to run concurrently. So when it went up to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court didn't want to deal with evacuation, so they dealt with the curfew. Since it was concurrent, they could ignore the other. And it took the Korematsu case for them to have to face it. But so my, I guess, my influence had the same kind of influence as my parents, but I would say that Gordon's situation being the eldest in the family was much stronger in all the kinds of things that they wanted to teach the kids. And particularly important was the fact that they went to an academy in their town before migrating to learn English, and they were converted to Christianity there. I don't know if you know that particular story. But being the eldest in the family, they get different kind of upbringing, I think. And they're the ones that are supposed to carry on the family tradition, particularly the males. And so I think there was a very strong relationship there. By the time I came along, I was the third child, and by then, the kids were speaking English, you know. And so the influence by the parents are not as strong, I think. They're all, we're speaking English to each other, and communicating with our friends and that kind of stuff. And as I say, I was just fifteen at the time. And so I went to church and that kind of stuff, but I was more interested in playing basketball and that kind of stuff. And I don't think my training was near as strong. And then with Gordon, he also belonged to an interdenominational Japanese American group called the Auburn Christian Fellowship. Young people got together and they had meetings and they had conferences, and they had dances, it was a social group as well. I never -- well, of course, I was, just finished my sophomore year in high school, so I wasn't even really into the urban, we lived out in the farm, not even in the urban group of high school kids as yet. I was working into that.

So that I see him as much more of an idealist than I ever was. But certainly, there was influence from him. So that when it came to things like the strike at San Francisco State, I'm sure that Gordon's behavior was somewhat of a model. And with Gordon, when he went off to college, he became a Quaker. And the particular kind of Christianity that my parents were converted to was very similar in pattern, small, intimate groups.

MA: This was the mukyoukai?

JH: Yeah, mukyoukai. So it was no accident, I think, that Gordon decides to become a Quaker. And today he's a Quaker, and he was for a long, long time on the national board. And I went to, I think I went to a Baptist church in Idaho, and I went to a Presbyterian church in Spokane, but that was because they had basketball teams and I played on the basketball team. They wouldn't let me play unless I went to church. [Laughs] But when I went to University of Washington, I never went to church again. Now, my sister belongs to a Methodist church, and she's a couple years younger than me, three years younger than me. But my brother Ed and I, I don't think we ever went to church after that. But my brother Ed was in Tule Lake even shorter than I was, and he went to Utah. And then from Utah, the Quakers got him into Guilford College, which is Quaker college in North Carolina. And he was the best athlete in the whole family, he played on the college team and stuff like that. And he got into philosophy, and he was slated to go to a theological seminary in New England, when my mother, who lived back in Seattle at the time, said to him, "Come on back. I just want the family together." So he comes back, and he goes to the University of Washington instead, and focuses in on psychology and philosophy. And then he ends up at Columbia in the Asian Studies PhD program, but he starts teaching before he finishes his dissertation. He's teaching in the New York system, and from there he goes right into the State Department. So he liked to travel and live in different countries. He was in Brazil and Ecuador, Zaire, Yemen. So he had quite a -- and I'd visit him whenever I could. So Gordon was kind of a, kind of a distant model to emulate, but never, never got up to his standards, I guess.

MA: That's interesting.

JH: I say that the, he might have had quite a bit to do with my various kinds of stands.

MA: Your activism?

JH: Yeah. But when he came to visit me during the strike period, he really didn't understand what was happening down here, because he was in Canada, you know. And then students were kind of using him as a hero and model. And my brother was saying, "Well, I don't know about any of these things and why it's happening like this." I said, "Shut up." [Laughs] "Let the students use you as a model, because they need it for their activities and things like this." And then he came around to understanding why, what we were doing and why we were doing it, and why he was linked into this process.

MA: He's been a model for a lot of people, I think. So can you talk then about his, I guess, historical importance and his legacy?

JH: Well, you know, I think that historically it's quite important. Because particularly the position that the Japanese Americans are put in, and the way in which the majority of the Niseis were reacting in order to prove their Americanism, I guess. So I think it was very important, in a broader sense of civil rights, that Gordon took the stand that he did. And this is what I think his importance is. And as I say, as far as I'm concerned, the battle is far from being over, and so his significance remains. I think it's important for all of us to know and to understand.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

MA: Is there anything else you would like to share? Any thoughts or about anything that we've talked about?

JH: Well, I guess just to connect it down to this conference; I think this is what it's all about. When I started working for the Museum, it just, some ways, the Japanese American community really needs the Museum because as a nonprofit, I'm having similar sorts of problems as I did in education. The people in control of the nonprofits, because nonprofits have to raise money to do whatever they're doing, basically are rich people. [Laughs] So I've had my problems at the Museum on this.

MA: What types of problems?

JH: Well, you know, there was an internationally known lawyer on the board, and he wrote a, he wrote a position paper to the Board of Trustees that we had to sing a little bit more of an assimilationist tune if we want to get money from rich American corporations. And that made me angry, and so I wrote a rebuttal, but I thought I did it diplomatically. I said, "If we did that, what's the use of having the Japanese American National Museum? Why don't we just hire the Smithsonian to do it for us?" And I gave all the arguments, my perspectives and points of view and things like that. Well, I never saw the lawyer again in another board meeting. So I wrote an apologetic letter to Irene saying, well, "Since I can't do your job," which is to keep the Museum going, I says, "I'm just going to give you my advice. And if you don't take it because of your needs, I'm not going to complain to you anymore." [Laughs] You know, Irene is a fantastic director, and I could, I can't talk to rich people like she does. [Laughs] So anyway...

MA: But it's interesting that you drew the parallel between the nonprofit world and your experience with the Museum, and then at San Francisco State and Ethnic Studies, and the importance of trying to push, you know, what you think is important.

JH: Well, I think essentially, the whole government runs this way, with money making a big difference.

MA: So then how do we, as younger generations, like my generation, how do we continue to fight within these structures?

JH: To understand these kinds of structures, and then, you know, all this growing gap between the haves and have-nots, people around the world are starving, you know. And gee, as intelligent human beings, can't we do better? And then the question is, what are you people going to do, your generation? You inherited this big mess, and you have to make it right. And so, again, this is why I think it's important that we have conferences like this, to understand the process. And the question is, what to do? Particularly in the future, in the context of being different. But learn from our mistakes, and don't repeat those mistakes. But I'm hoping for a better world for everybody, and it begins at home.

MA: I think that's a great place to end, that message. So this has just been a wonderful interview. So thank you so much for your time, I appreciate it.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2008 Densho. All Rights Reserved.