Densho Digital Repository
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Diana Morita Cole Interview
Narrator: Diana Morita Cole
Interviewer: Virginia Yamada
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 30, 2019
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-483

<Begin Segment 1>

VY: Okay. Today is Monday, September 30, 2019, and we are here in the Densho studio in Seattle, Washington, with Diana Morita Cole. Dana Hoshide is our videographer and my name is Virginia Yamada. So, Diana, thank you so much for joining us today for this interview.

DC: Well, thank you for having me, this is quite the privilege.

VY: Thank you very much. Let's just start with the basics and begin by having you tell us when you were born and what name you were given at birth.

DC: I was born on May 26, 1944, in Minidoka, Idaho, which was a concentration camps in the badlands of Idaho. And the name I was given was Diana Lynn Reiko Morita, and I was named for the movie star that was popular at that time. And talk has it that it was my sister, Ruth, that made the suggestion. So I have quite a number of names to have to deal with, so I like to say I was conceived in Tule Lake and born in Minidoka because my family was incarcerated in two camps and was also at the assembly center at Pinedale.

VY: Okay. So that's good information to have. Let's back up a little bit and talk about your parents and what their names were and when they were born and where they were born.

DC: So my father, Mototsugu Morita, was born in 1893 in Mazoroi, which is a tiny little rural town in Okayama, Japan. My mother, Masano Sakakiyama, was born in Okayama city in 1900, and her birthdate is very easy to remember because it's 1900. And they were sort of related to one another, they were sort of like second cousins, and they knew each other. And so it was really not an arranged marriage because they knew one another.

VY: So did they kind of grow up together?

DC: My father used to often go to Okayama city and take the young girls, which, I think there were five Sakakiyama sisters, and take them for walks, so they got to know each other in that way.

VY: And did they come from similar families, like the same kind of status?

DC: No. My mother's family was, I would say, upper middle class, and she didn't know how to cook because they had a family cook and there were servants there. So she had a life of ease before she came to America. My father, on the other hand, I think he went through a period where he suffered from malnutrition, I believe. So things were difficult in the Morita family, and there were some debts that the grandfather had incurred, so there was quite a difference in socioeconomic status.

VY: So do you think he suffered from malnutrition because his family couldn't afford food?

DC: I think there was... and, in fact, I believe Japan was going through economic hard times at that period, so I think, yes, that was true. And also probably because they were Buddhist and he probably didn't eat meat and so on, and he had to work very hard, I think. I don't know that much about his childhood, except that he was a very good student, he said, and the teacher never called on him because he always had the right answer. This is what he told me, I don't know how true it was. And he also said that he always stuck up for the kids that were being bullied by other students. So he had a, kind of a warm nature, and looked out sort of for the underdog.

VY: That's interesting. Do you feel like that's a side of him that you saw as you were growing up?

DC: That's an interesting question. He always loved children, I mean, obviously, he had so many. And so he also surrounded himself with his own progeny, right? And I think he was lonely in America, so what better thing than to build a nation of your own? And so he was... and then he loved his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren, and he loved everyone going over to visit them. And so he never, as I recall, when I was growing up, ever spent a great deal of time in isolation or quietude, he really enjoyed having people over, and they were well-integrated into the Japanese American community in Chicago. And so I do feel he was a rather gregarious individual, and so it would make sense that he would relate easily to children that were being mistreated.

VY: That's interesting.

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<Begin Segment 2>

VY: Okay, so it sounds like your parents, they kind of knew each other growing up and saw each other occasionally. When did they decide to get married?

DC: I think it was right before my father was leaving Japan, and obviously he didn't want to be there alone, and he and his father had made inquiries about him marrying the eldest Sakakiyama sister, (Asae) who was, according to my father, the most beautiful. But evidently -- and I think Betty has a different spin on it, Betty Shibayama. My spin on it is that she -- and this is what I was told by my mother -- that she  (Asae) had been offered a life of so-called "leisure" by marrying a banker. So she decided she was not going to go to America and be a pioneer, she was going to marry a banker and live a life of comfort in Tokyo. So she chose to marry this banker, and I guess (my father) he kind of went down the list, and he finally got to my mother, who, I think, was a very dutiful person. And I think she secretly liked him. And even though she had been warned by her favorite aunt (Tsuu Obasan), "Don't to go America. You go to America, you're going to suffer, stay here with me." And this was a maiden aunt who had been divorced, and she had actually, my mother had lived with her for a while. And I guess they moved to a different town in order for my mother to go to a special school. And my mother was educated in all the arts that a proper, middle-class Japanese woman would receive. She knew how to do flower arranging and do tea ceremony, and play instruments, I would assume, but I never saw her play. So she was quite refined, I think, and probably had no clue what she was getting herself into, poor thing. And she agreed, because my (paternal) grandfather (Kashichi) was very persistent. And although her father probably wanted to keep my mother there to comfort his sister, (Tsuu), the persistence of this man (Kashichi) who kept coming to the house, they felt that they couldn't... sometimes the Japanese often think about the other person and how they might feel, so, "This poor man, he keeps coming and asking," and so he (my maternal grandfather Sakakiyama) felt sort of obligated to my (paternal Morita) grandfather because they were all vaguely related in some way, they felt maybe they should accede to his request. And so that's how my mother came to America.

VY: Oh, so did your parents come together or separately?

DC: Separately. My father had come eight years before my mother, so I believe that was 1911. My (paternal) grandfather (Kashichi) had come a year before (my father). My mother came when she was nineteen and they were married in a proxy ceremony, which, I think, was common at that time. So I think what she had to do was go to some city and sign her name in a registry, and we have this beautiful photograph of her on her wedding day, but she's alone. And in this gorgeous kimono, and just looking absolutely beautiful. But there she was in Japan, and he (my father) was in America waiting for her. And the interesting thing is that his grandfather on the Morita side, so that would have been his (my great grandfather)... it gets kind of confused in there, and I'll explain why it's confused. But he came (before my father), the (my father’s) grandfather Morita came in the 1800s and was a houseboy in Watsonville. And so he (my great paternal grandfather) went back to Japan with stories of America. So when my grandfather (Kashichi Morita) decided to immigrate from Japan, he boarded a ship that was headed to Mexico. But during the passage, he learned that the contracts had dried up in Mexico, and so when the boat docked in Seattle, he jumped ship. And so I tell everyone that had it not been for my grandfather (Kashichi) jumping ship, I would be speaking Spanish today instead of English.

And he was quite the maverick (Kashichi), my grandfather. He was a middle child, and he married my grandmother Seki Morita, who was the only daughter of this family. And so there was no one to carry on the Morita name. So he became a mukoyoshi, and it was easier for a middle son to take on that role, because he did not have the status of a firstborn male in the family. And so the firstborn male would have had to be loyal and carry on the family name that he was born into, but my grandfather discarded it and became a Morita. So he was born a Terada, Kashichi Terada, but that was discarded and he became Kashichi Morita, and that was the person I knew. And he married my grandmother, and then my father was born. So my father was born like a year after they were married, and then he had a sister as well, so there were two children, but he was the eldest son.

VY: Your father had a sister?

DC: Yes, and she died in Japan. And it's unfortunate that that relationship was long distance, but my father was very dutiful and always sent money home for the family, and so he was very well-regarded in Japan for his humanity, I guess. So yeah, and my poor mother, she goes to America in 1919 not knowing what to expect except that everyone's telling her that she's going to have a very hard life. And my father takes her to a log cabin outside of the city of Hood River, where there was kerosene lamps and a dirt floor.

VY: Do you think she was prepared for that kind of a life?

DC: I can't imagine that she would have been, no. And if you see her hands in the wedding picture, they're soft and round and fat. But, however, when she was on the journey to America, there was a fortune teller on board, and she sat next to my mother and looked at her hands and said, "You will have many children, but you will never be able to hang on to your money." And so, but I don't know what that means to a young woman, and I certainly don't know, I don't believe my mother really understood the extent of the suffering she would undergo. But she was a very, very dutiful woman, and she was also a very strong woman, very silent, very quiet, but very deeply persevering, I think. And surprising, really surprising in her strength, I think. And certainly she had a great deal of difficulty with Seki, because Seki and my grandfather had come over a year earlier than my father.

VY: That was her mother-in-law?

DC: Yes, Seki Morita. And she was a very, very strong-willed woman. My mother said that she never measured up to Seki's idea of what was adequate in a daughter-in-law. Of course, my mother didn't know how to cook, she did not know how to iron, all these things my mother had to learn, and evidently, Seki was good at everything, and she did everything very, very quickly, which is highly admired in the Japanese culture, I think. And so when my mother didn't do things very well, (Seki) she was not helpful to my mother, she would not speak to her. So my mother would come into the room and she wouldn't speak to her. And I think this was sort of heartbreaking for my mother because here she is alone in America, and there's another woman in the household but that woman doesn't like you. Evidently there was a lack of women, a dearth of women of that age coming over, so my father said that all the men in the neighborhood would come over and stand and sigh and look at my mother and say, "Kirei na," because she was so beautiful. So there weren't a lot of people for my mother to commiserate with, so it was a difficult time. And I write about it, and I found that so difficult as a child, to hear these stories, because you're naturally, as a child, feeling compassion for your mother. And to hear this, I just wanted to tell my grandmother off, but my grandmother had already passed away and she was in Japan when she did so. And I never knew Seki, I only knew my grandfather who was my main caregiver when I grew up in Chicago. So things were difficult, but she (my mother) persevered, the poor woman. And she kept giving birth to these babies, one after the other, and evidently she was criticized by Seki for having three girls.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

VY: Let's talk about the birth order of your siblings, since we're talking about that. So how many siblings do you have?

DC: So there's eight above me and I'm the youngest. And the first was Dorothy, and she was born a year following their marriage. And then next came Laura, but we call her Fumiko, by her middle name. And then Ruth was born, and shortly after then was Paul, so he was the eldest boy, and then there was Claude, and Junior, who is Mototsugu Morita, Jr. And then Flora and Betty and then myself, and there's eleven years' difference between me and my next sister. So it was very, it was kind of neat the way she did that, or they did that, three girls, three boys, three girls. And my mother, I think, always felt that she had to somehow justify that birth order, poor thing. Because we know now that it's the male that contributes the gender, right? But my mother always said, "Well, if I had given birth to a boy first, they would have been in the war and would have died." So she sort of rationalized it to herself and it did happen to be rather true, what she said. But I think we all tried to justify why things happen to us, and even though we really didn't have any control over the gender of the child, it was something I think she needed to do because she probably was deeply hurt by the criticisms because she was alone.

VY: Yeah, it sounds like she was very isolated and didn't have a lot of support, other than her husband, of course.

DC: Yes, but then, that was his mother. So that puts him in a difficult position, doesn't it? And, of course, my mother was very beautiful, and Seki was not, and I think that may have contributed to some of the animosity as well, some kind of jealousy. She (Seki) loved my father, evidently. According to my sister, Fumiko, who grew up in Japan, she said, "Oh, Grandma would always say, 'Moto wa ii na,'" you know, her son, and she'd shorten his name. So she really loved him, and so to share him with another woman probably was difficult, and I think that dynamic probably carries out in many families, even if they're not Asian. So there were tensions, but my mother persevered, and yeah, she was thrown into an agrarian lifestyle that was totally foreign to her because she had grown up in the city where these five beautiful women that were well-known throughout the area as the Sakakiyama sisters, and she told me that they would parade through the town with their parasols, and men would come by and drop love notes in their kimono sleeves. And my sister, Fumiko, says that they were renowned for their beauty. So here she is, a citified lady, and then she has to go and became a peasant. And I think all these things were very difficult for her, but she managed to persevere.

VY: Was she the only sister that came to the States, came to America?

DC: Yes, that's true, yes.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

VY: So what kind of work did your parents do in Hood River?

DC: Okay, so my father was an orchardist, and so I think he worked for orchardists when he first came. Well, actually, I should backtrack. I think he worked for the railroad, that's what he did. Because my grandfather was a supervisor of some rail line, and so I imagine he got my father a job there. And I believe they then started working for the orchardists in Hood River (Valley), so they learned what they had to do, and then eventually he leased land because, of course, Issei were not permitted to own property in America. And so that was the life my father loved. My father said he would prune apple trees for nothing, he just loved that work so much. And oftentimes my mother would help him, I think, hold the ladder and things. And then they grew strawberries, and my brothers and sisters remember doing that, and I think my mother was involved in that work. And they'd always say, "Here we were, working really hard, and there was Junior lying down in the strawberry row. We could see his feet, but he was laying there," so that was the family joke. Of course, he was one of the younger ones, and, you know, didn't have the same perseverance that the others did. So they did that, and my father often would tell me these sad stories about how the weather would affect their crops. And these stories used to just rip my heart out because he'd say, "Oh, we worked so hard and then the frost came," or, "I worked so hard and then the rains came." It seemed that there were so many stories of failure that I heard growing up that really, I think, affected me deeply. But it certainly made me a very compassionate person, if I can say that about myself. Because I think he needed to tell those stories to someone, and of course, who else but your children would you tell those stories to? So that's what he did, and I think he helped... when he was working for the railroad, he was blowing up tree stumps with dynamite, he talked about that. And often at night he would stand and look toward the east and think of Japan and feel very lonely.

VY: Like he wanted, he would like to go back, or just missing his home?

DC: Just missing it. And I think many of the Issei who came, came to make money to send back home and to eventually return. But what also happened to my father was that he fell in love with America, and who couldn't? I mean, this was just... I'm going to start crying... such a beautiful country. I mean, geographically, it just is such an inspiring, beautiful place. And I don't know if Americans fully appreciate it, but there's such beauty in the Cascade Mountains. So that, those mountains, of course, looking at them, reminded him of Mt. Fuji, because they belong to that same ring. And there's something about America that I think makes you love her, and he became one of those lovers of America. And so I don't know, in the end, if he really wanted to go back, but I think that was his intent, to eventually go back. And yeah, so he'd always say things like, "Oh, this is just a wonderful country, it has so many resources and it's so big, it has so much of a future compared to Japan, where it's so small. It's also beautiful, but there wasn't that much wilderness. So yeah, I think he was an American in his heart.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

VY: So knowing how he felt about America, how much he loved it, it must have been devastating for him when World War II started and Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and everything changed. Did he ever talk about that or did your family ever talk about that time in Hood River when everything just changed suddenly for them?

DC: Oh, yes. I am blessed and cursed with all the stories that they told me. My family, I think, is made up of a few storytellers, if not all. And I hear, where I live in Canada, so many people tell me, "My family never talked about it." So yes, he told me that... he talked specifically about Frank Hachiya, who was distantly related to us. Frank's mother, I believe, was a second cousin to my father. And Frank was a year older than Dorothy, but they were playmates in Hood River, and Frank was also born in Hood River. And he was very bright, and his father, Junkichi, inherited some money from the death of someone in his family, and took his sons to live in Japan, and I believe his wife as well, I'm not quite sure about that. So Frank and Homer, his older brother, were going to Japanese school, and Frank said -- he was very bright -- he said, "I do not feel Japanese, I want to return to America because I believe in democracy." And so he convinced his father to return. So Homer was left with his mother in Japan, and Frank and his father came back to Hood River. And Frank graduated from high school and was going to the University of (Oregon) when the war broke out, and he was expelled, as were many Nikkei after the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was extremely unfortunate and unfair. And so before Frank even was incarcerated, he volunteered to serve in the American army because he believed in democracy, even though his father was now imprisoned. And I believe he went, yeah, he received some training and came to Tule Lake in uniform to see his father who was living in the bachelor quarters of Tule Lake. And my father and (Frank) he had a conversation, and my father said, "What are you doing fighting for a country that throws us in a place like this?" And Frank said, "Well, Mr. Morita, I believe in democracy." And so I think the fact that my father would even ask Frank that question indicated the bitterness my father felt. And being torn away, I think, from that beautiful place where my father was living and thrown into these badlands, I've been to both places, I've been to Tule Lake and to Minidoka, and I could see that it's not green, it's not lush, it's very sere and arid and dry. It's not the place that my father would ever want to settle in, and then to be treated as a prisoner for something he hadn't even done. And my father, at that time, never felt that Japan would ever win the war. He said the Japanese couldn't possibly win because they're resource strapped. It's a country that doesn't have a great deal of resources and America has so much resources that they (the Japanese) were never going to win. But when I was born, and when I grew up in Chicago, I believe that I can truly say that when I knew my parents, particularly my father, they were defeated people.

And it was only until I was older that I became cognizant of that psychological frame of mind, and that was when I saw some of the native people who lived in Chicago, and I said, "I've seen that look before, I know that look," and I realized that that's where it came from. It comes from being denied your dignity. And so, yeah, interesting sad stories. But it's a feeling that many people have, if you think about it today, all the people that are displaced and homeless, so many now. And there are currents within the country you live, and in the whole world, that we as individuals have no control over. And so you manage the best you can, but sometimes life throws you these curves that you would never have envisioned, my father would never have envisioned being imprisoned in America. But when I would say that to my mother, she would say, "Well, Diana, if I had stayed in Japan, I could have suffered the same fate as my eldest sister," who had married this Tokyo banker.

VY: And what happened to her?

DC: And she was living in probably very nice surroundings. I tried to imagine it, but, of course, I really didn't understand what Japanese architecture was at the time when I was growing up, and these are very flimsy homes by our comparison, the paper doors and everything, and things catch fire so easily, and the firebombings were happening during the Second World War. And the bomb hit my eldest aunt's home, and she lost at least two or three of her children. And she had told them to run in one direction; the ones that ran in the opposite direction lived. And she was holding one that was the infant, and the baby died in her arms, and my mother says there's even a scar, there was a scar on her eldest sister's face from the fire. And so my mother felt that -- and this is another rationalization, of course, for her life -- that she was better off in America even though she went through hard times, that she would have been subject to possibly even greater harm had she lived in Japan during the war. So, yeah, I guess we make peace with our lives by telling ourselves stories and telling other people the stories of our lives, right? And so you pass down your values from one generation to another, and it often made me feel very trapped, I must say honestly. That are the choices in life either to lose your children by firebombing or to be incarcerated? It was very grim, the realities that she was telling me. Of course, they're very much in keeping, I think, with the Japanese sensibilities because they used to drag me to these chambara samurai movies, they're called chambara movies.

VY: How old were you when this was happening?

DC: Oh, my god, I was very, I was in Chicago, and I believe I was told that the films were shown first at the Greek Orthodox church in the ghetto, and then later at the Elm LaSalle church. So I was taken there and I just hated those films, I mean, people stabbing each other with these samurai swords and these men with these fierce faces. And thought, oh, my god, and they look like us, and of course they don't look anything like Gary Cooper or Van Johnson or those faces. And it was a lot to take in.

VY: Did you feel any kind of connection to it or did you feel really separated from it? Did it feel like, "this is my heritage," or, "this is not my heritage"?

DC: Oh, no, not when you're three, you don't even know the word, what "heritage" means. But you think, "These people look like me but they really are Martians." And they looked like Martians, they were as alien as Martians to me. And they're so violent, and these men are expressing this kind of emotion from their hara, their stomach, where the Japanese believe your spirit lies, the ki is in the belly. And so my father would always talk about getting angry, and hara ga tatsu, which is his way of explaining that he would get angry. And so the depth of their feelings, I think the Japanese don't express it in their faces, but their feelings run very, very deep. And they're often very extreme and very fierce, and it was frightening. It was almost like going to a horror film, right, when you're seeing people murdered and looking angry like that, and I thought, "Why are they dragging me here? This is so painful." But now I have a collection of these chambara films, and I can appreciate them, I certainly don't approve of the violence.

VY: Maybe you understand them more now?

DC: Yes, because I'm older and I've had some education, and so I understand that the concept of bushido is very important. The spirit of compassion and taking responsibility and being honorable, all those things I think I've taken to heart. But, of course, as a five-year-old or three-year-old, you don't understand those concepts at all. So I think the Japanese culture is very remote, especially to a child growing up in America.

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<Begin Segment 6>

DC: And so I was having to straddle these two worlds, it was quite daunting. And so it's also very enriching, but as a child you don't appreciate that at all, and then you had these parents who were actually abused in your own country, and were alien. And, of course, my mother was not proficient in English, where my father was. So there was this sense in which I wanted to get away from them, I wanted to be more American because that was the impetus, especially after being released from camp, that we needed to prove -- which seems absolutely ridiculous at this point in my life -- that we were just as good as everybody else who was American, that we were just as worthy. But that challenge was, I feel now, very unfair because we were law abiding citizens. It was the fact that we were "yellow," and racism on the part of the power structure that placed us there. It was nothing we had done, but it didn't matter. Because in terms of the power structure, you don't count. And so, from the outset, I think you are given this sense that you are not owed anything, that you owe everything to America because you have to prove that you are worthy of being allowed to stay (here). And I don't think we articulated that, but certainly that's what the Nisei felt who went into the army and sacrificed their lives, oftentimes saving other Americans, white Americans, and being wounded and being sent into the worst possible battles that were devastating.

VY: Is that what happened to Frank Hachiya?

DC: Yeah, so okay, Frank -- thank you for asking. Frank was bilingual because he had studied in Japan, and also he was very bright, so he became a language translator for the army. That was how he was educated, he was not educated to be a fighter, but he was sent into the Philippines and he was in Leyte. Then when he was due to come back, he volunteered for a very dangerous mission to go behind the enemy lines. And these translators, of course, were used to extract information from the Japanese who were captured by the American military. And they were very effective because, of course, they didn't look like Americans, they looked like the Japanese. And so there was probably, it was easier to develop a rapport with the prisoner and to gain their trust, and of course, they give them cigarettes and so on. And so he volunteered to go behind enemy lines because they knew that the invasion of the Philippines by the Japanese was eminent, and they had captured, the Americans had captured a Japanese prisoner. They needed someone to go behind enemy lines, and so he took that on. And he received very valuable information from that individual, and he came back and he was shot through the liver, and they believe that was due to friendly fire because he looked like the enemy. And so they tried to save him by blood transfusions, but it was a mortal wound, they called. And so he died at a very young age, I believe he was only twenty-one. And it was also sad not only that he died in this way, where he was reviled at home and he's garnering information from the Japanese to help the Americans, and then his father was not allowed to bring him home for burial in Hood River because Hood River was so anti-Japanese. And the American Legion had stripped the names of a few of the Nisei soldiers who were from that area who had died in combat, they just stripped their names off the honor roll. And this became headline news, and I believe The New York Times picked it up, that these American soldiers who died were stripped from the honor rolls because of their race. And so eventually the national headquarters of the American Legion pressured the Hood River American Legion to put those names back. But given the atmosphere at the time, Mr. Hachiya did not feel that he could bring the body back for burial in Hood River. And I believe Frank died when my family was in Minidoka, but I could be wrong, but they were still imprisoned at the time, so it was quite poignant and dramatic that that would happen. So Frank was buried for three years in Leyte, and once the atmosphere became a bit more open towards receiving Nikkei soldiers, my uncle was able to bury (Frank) in Hood River, and I've gone to see his grave site.

But this story was one of the many stories that have left a permanent impression on me, and to hear this story as a young person, it was just so devastating. Because I would be caught between crying and feeling so angry, and then also feeling, how could I ever measure up to that kind of integrity? It's just an impossibility. And so one feels very burdened by these... there was almost a hidden admonition: "Diana, do you think you can be as good as this person?" It was almost, I don't think that parents necessarily always have a moral (in mind), but there is. It's a teaching moment, and what is that teaching, they are inculcating values. Because they admired Frank because he was intelligent, he was a good student, and yet, the University of (Oregon) threw him out. And then you volunteer to defend a country that has forsaken you, basically, abandoned you. You are a citizen, and what does it mean to be a citizen if they throw you in a camp and you have no civil liberties. So what's the Constitution for? And so all these things, all these conflicts certainly resided in my psyche. And although these stories are very enriching, they are also a burden to carry because they're part of your legacy, they're part of what you know, and they're part of what... you know what honor is, and what it is to lead a virtuous life. And I think about Frank often, and I think sometimes when I see Trump, I think, "Did he die for that to be in office?" And so the equation, the equity, is just not there between white privilege and the degradation that we were forced to live in. So it is very... very, very difficult to rationalize, really. So all you can say is that it was so unfair, but this person really tried to do the right thing.

And William Hohri often told me... although William Hohri, who was my Sunday school teacher in Chicago, he was someone who answered "no-no" on that infamous questionnaire that was trying to test our loyalty when we were in camp. He said, he's often said that if it weren't for the sacrifices of the Nisei soldiers during the Second World War, we would never have achieved the level of acceptance that we have after the war. So there's a certain amount of debt that we owe to these wonderful people, and so I think we owe it to them to try to fight for democracy and fight for the things that are right, but we don't necessarily have to go out and kill people for it, go to war for it, but what we have to do is fight for it at home and make sure that everyone is educated about their rights and so on. So there's much to do domestically, certainly we see that now.

VY: That's very true.

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<Begin Segment 7>

VY: So, Diana, so before we move on to Chicago, let's go back a little bit and see if there's anything more you want to talk about, about when your family left Hood River.

DC: So that day is very much seared into my memory because it was on my sister Flora's birthday, May 13, 1942. And what I was told by my brothers and sisters was that they all piled into a truck that Paul was driving, my eldest brother, Paul, was driving. And most of them were in the back, so perhaps my parents were in the front, not sure. I believe my grandfather got there in a different way. And my sister, Ruth, being this wonderfully kind person, she sang the song "My Sister and (I)" And evidently, I looked at the lyrics, and it's so poignant. It's about two young girls being torn away from their country in Europe under similar circumstances. And (Ruth) she made them all sing that song. And my sister, Betty, was riding in the back carrying a bouquet of flowers that her classmates had picked for her, and my brother, Claude, remembered this very vividly. And when they showed up at the train station, Margie Bryan, who was my sister Flora's best friend, was there with her mother, and they gave my sister, Flora, a birthday cake. So here they are surrounded by armed guards, tagged with numbers so they were no longer people, they had this identity that was given to them that was really cold and impersonal and bureaucratic, something similar that was done in Hitler's Germany. And this incredible act of humanity by the Bryan family to show up there, and I don't know, to this day, if I would do something like that, and put myself in that kind of possible social jeopardy if not physical jeopardy because there were men with guns there, and to hand someone, who was being taken prisoner, a birthday cake.

And so my brother, Claude, saw that, and he waited for his friends to show up. And as they boarded the train, and my sister, Flora, carried the cake onto the train, he kept looking to see if anyone would show up. And even as they were pulling out of the station, he would peer behind the shade even though he was told not to by the soldiers. They were told not to raise the shade or to pull it back, because... well, for whatever rational reasons they made.  but Claude kept looking, hoping that he would have seen at least one of his friends, and he never did. And to this day, I believe that that was a trauma my brother, Claude, never got over. He was about fifteen at the time, a time of great turmoil anyway for adolescents, when you're coming to terms with adulthood, moving from childhood to adulthood, and to have this stark reality facing you, that all those people you played with in school didn't care enough about you to even come and say goodbye. And so I believe that this is why my brother, Claude, lives in Japan, even to this day. And he'll often talk about, "My friends never came, but Flora's friend came, Margie Bryan."

And Margie and her father even came to visit Flora in Tule Lake. And so I've written a story about these two girls at the fence, and that's where Flora met Margie and exchanged news about where Margie had been. Margie had gone to the Grand Canyon on vacation, and Flora didn't know what a vacation was. And so girls who had grown up with a sense of companionship and equity, the word we use now, but certainly wasn't something that was used then, suddenly they become unequal, right? So the one on the outside who was of German extraction, and who looked like the enemy just as much as we did, had freedom, privilege, and also the humanity to come and acknowledge Flora and their friendship and her life and what it meant to her. And poor Flora is standing there, so suddenly they are totally unequal. And I think those types of experiences really drove home to my siblings that they were of inferior status. And they don't say that, but when we are victimized, particularly unfairly -- of course, usually that's what the word implies -- but politically unfairly, we don't know this, but we actually internalize that discrimination. So there is something that was internalized racism. So you say, well, I'm here, look at my house, I don't even have a house anymore, I'm living in this shack, this barrack, and my friend, who I love and played with, has a different lifestyle than mine, and political freedom. And so even though they corresponded their whole lives, and Margie came to visit Flora in Chicago after she graduated from the university, of course, Flora hadn't graduated from university. And so I think from then on, even though they had corresponded, they knew their lives had gone in different directions and were never going to be, it was never going to be repaired. And so that was something I learned from hearing that story. And when... this is an interesting footnote to that story. When Margie Bryan was on her deathbed, she died of cancer, I believe, she told her husband, "When I die, I want you to renarry, and when you remarry, I want you to marry a Nikkei," and he did. And that was the extent of her loyalty and attachment, I think, to Flora. And when I told that story very recently in Chattaroy, which is outside of Spokane, because I was invited to speak there, the kids just ate that up, they just thought that story just meant so much, and they were crying. It's a great story to tell; it's a very impactful story.

Betty had a visit in Tule Lake from her teacher, her second-grade teacher in Odell, it was Ms. Heaton, and I've written a story about that (experience). And Ms. Heaton obviously was a very extraordinary person that she would think to step into a prison camp, right, to visit her former student. And there were two of them, Johnny Tamino and Betty Morita, and she wanted to see how they were doing. And (Ms. Heaton) was going to visit her friend that lived close by, so she decided to stop by at the camp. We don't know how she got into the camp, but obviously if she were white and she knew she had an acquaintance with these people, she had a connection, she would be allowed in, and she was. And Betty remembers receiving her at the front door of their barrack, and I said to Betty, "How did you feel?" And (she) said, "I felt ashamed." And so this is what I told the students at Chattaroy, that you internalize the shame because you have no political power to express it, your outrage, so you internalize it. And it's something that I feel very sad about, and I wish I had been there, but of course I wasn't, and so it sort of brings out this need for me to want to rescue people that are in bad situations.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

DC: So I feel a profound... what's the word? I am a witness, that is my role in my family. I am the witness to their suffering, and I've also become a repository of their stories. And so I try to convey this to people who don't understand this because they have nothing in their background that would inform them of this kind of sadness within a family. And I'm hoping that by talking about this, that somehow I can help the society to become more empathetic, so that it would be less likely for people to want to do that sort of thing, to be more accepting of the "other," because there's a chance that you may be that "other" had circumstances been different. And so those are the teaching moments that we can use as a people and as a culture and as a society to raise the level of humanity in our communities and in our nation. And these stories have to go out there, and they have to be heard. And as an old lady of seventy-five, I've taken this on because I feel I don't have that many years to live, and I see the way the world is going, and I think that the Morita stories are very important stories that need to be told. And, of course, it was very interesting to learn about my brother when he was in Minidoka and his job of delivering telegrams.

VY: What was that like?

DC: Well, I actually do a storytelling gig about it, but it didn't start out as a storytelling where I would just be Claude. I first told it at a Minidoka pilgrimage. I was invited to take part in a women's panel, and people were supposed to talk about things that would honor women, and so this is a story that would have honored Mrs. Onodera of Seattle and the sacrifices that she made. So my brother was offered a job by one of his pals who didn't want his job any longer for obvious reasons, and he said, "Hey Claude, you want to use my bike? You can ride all over camp. You can go and even see those pretty girlfriends of yours in Block 19 and 36, you know, Miyoko and Esther." Of course, I made up some of these names. And Claude, who was very athletic and had been deprived of his bicycle in Hood River, had to leave it behind, "Well, I guess I'll take this beat up bike, sure." It was a chance, it was an opportunity. And because they were late arrivals, this was something that he could ride around in and get to know the community better. So he said, "Sure, I'll take it on," but he never had, he never gave a thought to the messages in the telegrams. And so he receives, he's handed telegrams when he goes to the administration office, and one day he's handed one that's addressed to Mrs. Tamaki Onodera of Block 10, Unit 5, or Barrack 5. And he goes to see her, and three of her sons had volunteered to fight. And he goes to see her, and she doesn't open the telegram in front of him. Instead she goes in and gets a glass of water for him to drink, and she asks about him. And he keeps staring at that unopened telegram with this feeling of dread, and enjoying his interaction with this lovely woman, but still knowing that there might be something not so nice in that telegram. And she offers him to rest a while, and then as he's leaving and riding off on the bike, he turns and looks back and he sees her standing on the porch looking down at that unopened telegram, and then she quietly moves inside. And then he decides to go to a block dance wearing his clunky farm boots from Oregon, and he looks into the hall and he sees Esther dancing with her boyfriend and is never able to meet up with Miyoko. And then he finally, I think the last day out he said he began to notice the unsettling number of gold star military flags replacing the blue star service flags in the windows of the barracks. And so then he decides to resign his position as messenger boy. And the story ends that he says, "Even to this day, I remember the sorrowful faces of the women to whom I carried these messages of enormous grief." And to the mothers and fathers outside the barbed wire fences, they received messages from uniformed soldiers, not little boys on bicycles. So he very much felt used. And that story was a big hit when I first read it at the Minidoka pilgrimage. I don't know if you know Bif Brigman? He said that that was the highlight of that pilgrimage, and I had no idea that it would affect him in that way.

VY: That's a powerful story.

DC: It is very powerful. And I think we Moritas have that capacity to feel compassion for others and to carry those stories forward. So I'm grateful to my brother and to my sister, Flora, and to my sister, Betty, for giving me those stories. And yeah, they certainly have enriched my life.

VY: Do you feel like it's working? Like when you do go out and talk to people directly and share these stories, do you feel like they're making an impact?

DC: Well, certainly when they cry and when they come up to me and tell me. I'm hoping for that, there's nothing else I can do. I feel driven by my desire to communicate those stories to people. And I think it's especially important to tell these stories to students, because, of course, students do research and they're interested in their studies. So in that sense, you have a captive audience. With the Nikkei themselves, some of them then want to tell me their stories. And I'm glad they're in my book or in my presentations because I can bring them forward. It's a very sad world out there right now, and I think we need to tell these stories because someone said, who's a storyteller, "Diana, those students that were crying, they were craving that story. They had a desperate need for you to tell them those stories, they need to hear these. So that's why you had that reception." And then someone else used the same term who is also a storyteller, that people really crave to hear genuinely humane stories that are not gussied up by Disney World or by Hollywood, these are stories of ordinary people placed in unusual circumstances, and how you can learn to persevere under those difficult times. And so hopefully these stories will mean something to people and that they will possibly tell others, but I know those students in Chattaroy told their parents, and their parents evidently have talked to the organizer and said, "Wow, why didn't we hear those stories when we were growing up?"

VY: That's interesting.

DC: Yeah, that they also felt deprived. And my husband was there also, and he was telling his story of being involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and twenty children lined up after his talk to shake his hand. And I think that we all are, perhaps, craving people in our lives who are willing to be examples of this sort. You don't go out to be an example, but as a result of behaving in a humane way, you can perhaps be an example for others.

VY: I agree, it's powerful to hear those firsthand stories.

DC: Yeah, so thank you for letting me tell them.

VY: Thank you so much for telling them.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

VY: And let's see, before we move on to Chicago, is there anything you want to talk about that we haven't covered regarding your family in Minidoka? So first they went from Hood River to Pinedale to Tule Lake to Minidoka.

DC: Yeah, and they went to Minidoka because Tule Lake became a maximum-security prison for the people that they considered, the government considered to be disloyal, even though they weren't, they were just placed in terrible circumstances and had to make dreadful choices. And some of them made noble choices by saying, "no- no," they said, "you take my family out of prison and I will go and fight," which seemed to me a fair deal, you know, especially since they knew the Constitution. And many of these people were well educated, highly intelligent, committed individuals, just like Frank was, to democracy, but they committed themselves in a different way. And yet, the government used that as, it was very dastardly what they did by using that bureaucratic tool to turn the camp into factions against one another. And, of course, governments tend to do that, right, because divide and conquer is quite often the technique that's used, and it was unfortunate. But anyway, my father did not answer "yes-yes." I looked at his questionnaire, and it was written by my sister, Ruth, because her hand is quite distinguishable from anyone else's. And what he answered was, when they said, "Were you willing to fight?" she just wrote, "NA," not applicable. And so technically he was not "yes-yes," but because he was so old, he was in his fifties, they weren't going to draft him anyway. And they were going to send us to -- and I was a fetus at the time -- they were going send us to Heart Mountain. And my dad was a talker, much like myself, and he said to the authorities, "Why don't you send us to Minidoka? It's closer to Oregon." And when I tell that story to other Nikkei, they become quite indignant. "What? I didn't know we had a choice." But because my father was a talker, and it kind of made sense, and the war was winding down anyway, so they sent us to Minidoka instead, which was a little bit harsher, less harsh, than Heart Mountain. But some of friends went to Heart Mountain, and so that's how we ended up in Minidoka.

And I think the most poignant story from Minidoka is Claude's story of delivering telegrams, it's a great, great story. And so I think that, in Minidoka, because in Tule Lake, our family was together. We may have been in separate areas of Tule Lake, but we were all there. But as the war started winding down and it looked pretty much like the Allies were going to win, people were allowed out on work assignments. So Ruth had left, and so had Dorothy and Hiroshi, my eldest sister, who had married. And Fumiko, of course, had already been sent to Japan when she was two, so she was completely out of the picture at the time. And so those two were out of, they never went to Minidoka. I think Ruth came back to Minidoka when she married Susumi Hidaka, just to visit us, and Paul...

VY: Okay, so backing up just a little bit, so when your family left Tule Lake, Dorothy and Ruth were in Tule Lake, but then after Tule Lake, they went, they moved somewhere else?

DC: To Illinois.

VY: To Illinois, okay.

DC: I think Dorothy and Hiroshi were in Barrington, they were domestics, working as domestics because that was the way they could find work. And I believe Ruth was in (Arlington) Barrington, but it could have been the reverse.

VY: And your other sister, Fumiko, she was actually sent to Japan...

DC: When she was two.

VY: When she was two and before the war, is that correct?

DC: Yes. So she had a very difficult time during the war, as most Japanese did. And they were starving, and she had to go around begging for money for the family. And I believe she went begging to the Sakakiyamas, who had more money, because (the Moritas) they were having a very hard time. So that's what she remembers, but she had been educated in Japan and she was very much loved by her grandparents who were my grandparents... (correcting myself) great-grandparents, great-grandparents, and by my grandmother Seki. So she was very much loved there (in Mazoroi), and she married there and had children. And Paul and Claude and my father, when we were in Minidoka, were sent out to work, so that could happen on more than one occasion.

Let's see, and then Paul was drafted in Minidoka. And the story of this is that Paul had wanted to enlist earlier, but my father was totally against him going to war, because my father liked to hold his children close. And so he made up stories that he had a bad heart, my father had a bad heart, and so he needed Paul to be there. So it was like, there was some kind of disability if you were the mainstay of the family and your father was ill or something, so that they would make deferments. So Paul got many, many deferments, but I guess it all came to a head in Minidoka, and by that time, the war was practically over. He was enlisted in the 442nd, and he was midway to Europe when the amnesty was declared. So he did go to Italy, but that was when the war had already been over, so my brother never saw any action. But there is a sense in my family that their autonomy was never really fully supported by my father. You know, the patriarchy reigned supreme. But I am grateful that my father held off as long as he could. Because certainly, if you were a member of the 442nd, chances are you'd come back wounded or dead. But I believe my brother was very resentful of my father's power over his life.

So that's about all I remember about Minidoka. I know that it became a self-sustaining camp like many, and people were gardening, and so I think that's pretty much what I remember. And, of course, I was held and coddled and adored by everyone in the camp, that's what I was told, and I never walked around on my own, everyone was carrying me because people had time on their hands. So that's what I was told.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

VY: How long was your family in Minidoka after you were born?

DC: Okay, yes. So I left in October of 1945, October of '45, so I was about a year and a half when we moved to Chicago. And my father, we were one of the last to leave, and I remember my sister, Betty, telling me that she was really upset because everybody had gone and they were practically the last ones to leave, but my father was holding out with the notion that he might return to Oregon. But none of my brothers and sisters wanted to go back because there were these headlines that said, "Japs not wanted here," it was very, very racist. And so he realized that if he wanted to stay with the family, he would have to go to Chicago where Dorothy and her husband had already purchased a building and Ruth had followed with her husband. So it felt like it was a logical choice for him (my father) to make, however, he never liked the jobs he had there, he always talked about Hood River and how beautiful it was, so I think there was this great longing for it in his life.

VY: What kind of jobs did he have to take in Chicago?

DC: I think he worked making bamboo furniture, or rattan, rattan was the word they used, rattan furniture. And it was in a factory, and, of course, Chicago is concrete. I mean, there are parts of the city that are absolutely beautiful, but it's the architecture, it's not the natural world unless you go to Lincoln Park or Grant Park at that time, and the lake. So I think he felt very much out of place there, and I don't think he was a very happy person. And then my mother eventually went to work, and she worked in an insulation factory. And she got there by mistake, and somehow they were hiring, so she was hired there. And she became a very influential figure there in the factory because Mr. (Thomas C.) Russell, who was the owner, and who had invented this kind of fiberglass insulation, was having a hard time making ends meet. And so I believe it was for two weeks that my mother worked for free. Now that is so Japanese, right? I mean, like, who would do that, right? And so he became very indebted to my mother. And so she hired, she helped him hire many Issei from the Japanese American community. And they went to work there, and, of course, you know, Asians work hard. And then eventually my dad went to work there. And so my brother, Junior, also went to work there, and Mr. Russell really liked my brother, Junior, wanted my brother, Junior, to stay on, to manage the place for him, and Junior said, "No, I don't want to work here for the rest of my life." And so Mr. Russell told my mom, "Well, if he wants to go to Northwestern" -- and Mr. Russell was an alumnus of Northwestern -- "I can get him in." And so he got my brother into dental school, and that's how my brother became a dentist. And it was all really due to my, I mean, obviously my brother had to complete the studies and everything, but it was really due to my mother's stoic nature that this happened for our family, and they (Mr. Russell and my mother) remained friends for all their lives. She was given money by Mr. Russell on a yearly basis that helped support her church. My mother became a very devout Christian and a pillar of her church.

VY: Was she brought up a Christian?

DC: No, this is the interesting thing because she was Shinto and my father was Buddhist. And she would always go to church, she really liked it. That was part of the community in Chicago, was going to church. It (Japanese Church of Jesus Christ) was an Issei congregation, and Reverend (Andrew Yoshimatsu) Oyama was, I think, the first to be their minister. And she had many friends there, and it gave her a great sense, I think, of satisfaction, that she was able to help her church by Mr. Russell giving them this money on a yearly basis. So he was honoring her dedication to his business.

VY: Oh, that's interesting. So your mom made quite an impact once she was living in Chicago.

DC: Yes, independent of the family in a way, and certainly, to my great unhappiness because as soon as we landed in Chicago, she was out in the world, and I was stuck at home with this eighty-year-old man who was my grandfather.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

VY: Yeah, so talk about that. What was a typical day like for you when you were growing up in the early days?

DC: Well, I certainly remember getting up and feeling miserable right away because I knew she was gone, and looking around for her. And then having to deal with the realization that she was gone for the day, and I was there with my grandfather. And, I mean, there was so many years' difference between him and myself, right, he was eighty and I was maybe three or something, I mean, what would we have to talk about? We never really had a conversation. He was there, he cooked for us, he polished my shoes, he helped me get dressed. He always made lunch for me, but it wasn't my mother. And so this closeness that I knew in Minidoka, although I don't recall, and that I knew in bed, at night, was just taken from me every morning. And then, on the weekends, because my brother had opened a launderette on the west side of Chicago, and my sister, Ruth, had opened a launderette, I can't remember exactly where it was (West Madison), but anyway, she opened one. And everyone went to work to help them out. So the weekends, she was gone as well, and so was my father. And so it was very lonely, in a way, I felt abandoned, and eventually I became old enough to go with them.

But when we went to Chicago, the overarching ambition of all the Nikkei that were released was to become economically independent, right? Because we had no income from those years we were in camp, or little stipends that people received from the menial tasks they performed, but nothing that would keep you going financially in an independent way. So Betty and Flora who were very young at the time, were working in violation of the child labor laws, but they had to do that. I mean, all the members of our family were working except Dorothy, who was married and at home with her children. So the attention of everyone was outward, was not inward. And so, I mean, of course, we had family get-togethers on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and on Sundays, generally, we gathered together. But this sense of these people, they were so much older than I, right, and they had interests outside the family, and they were developing networks thanks to an individual called Abe Hagiwara, who was a social worker at the Olivet Institute. And he devised this, he came up with this idea of creating these social clubs so that the Nisei would have a chance to mingle and meet with one another. So my sisters became members of the Philos Club, and I don't remember the ones that my brothers became involved with. [Narr. note: Junior was a member of the club called the Exclusives.] And they'd all wear these jackets, these satin jackets with the name Philos in the back, and they would go bowling together. And there were certain activities that Nikkei were allowed to participate in, but I think things like tennis was out of bounds.

VY: Why tennis?

DC: Well, tennis always has had that kind of upper-class British emphasis, and you have to wear certain outfits to be on the court. But if you're bowling, you're indoors, you're less exposed, and you don't have to dress in a certain way. And bowling is often sort of considered sort of a lower-class activity, I think, maybe. And so I think they felt safe bowling, and I think that was where Betty met Art. So they had all these social clubs, and they were all going to movies and having fun, and, "How come I can't go?" They were my brothers and sisters, but I was just a baby. And they talk about things like Barefoot Contessa, the movie, and I'm thinking, "How come I can't go there?" go to that movie. And, of course, they were dancing to the music like Billy Eckstine. And so they'd have records, and I would play them, and that would be my way, sort of, of relating to their social life vicariously through the music, Vaughn Monroe and Stan Kenton. And then they would sometimes go to the Aragon Ballroom and dance there. So they worked and they had a social life. So despite the fact that they lost that rural community they knew in Hood River, they were reestablishing themselves in Chicago thanks to the efforts of Abe Hagiwara. And there was another social worker, Chiye Tomihiro, beautiful people, just lovely, lovely people. And I think Chiye was their, the Philos' advisor. And I remember my sisters going to the local, I don't know what you call it, like an arcade store, and you could record music. And so they would sing songs to these 45 (rpm) records and bring them home, and then I would play them and trying to relate to that. So they were busy, they were going to high school, they were going to work after high school. In fact, I think Betty and Flora, maybe even Claude, Jr., had to leave early to get to their jobs. But just like Paul did, Paul had to leave school to help harvest apples in Hood River, they all kept up with their studies. So I guess we were competent academically. Yeah, and then when Betty started dating Art -- and we called him Shiba -- it was, I think, back then, people sort of made nicknames for people.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

VY: So this was Art Shibayama?

DC: Uh-huh. And I never knew anything about his background. And even if somebody had told me as a child, I would not be able to come to terms with his story. And it was only until I was much older that I was able to comprehend what had happened to him. Well, when I met him, he was like all the other boys that came over into our apartment to date my sisters, and he was sitting on the sofa. And, of course, being the monkey that I am, I said to him, "Do you use power on your face like my sisters do?" Because his complexion was absolutely gorgeous, but I didn't know why I was saying that to him, but I was trying to relate his complexion to my sisters'. And he just kind of took it all in stride and just smiled and went along. And then eventually, they would start taking me out on their dates. And so I'd be taken to all these movies.

VY: How old was Art and Betty and how old were you at this time?

DC: Oh my goodness, I would think that Betty would be in her late teens, and he was a few years older than her, I would say maybe he was four years older or three.

VY: So you were probably around seven or eight or so?

DC: Yeah, exactly. You do the math very well. So yeah, and I'd be teasing them, trying to get their attention by saying these dumb things, and he was very tolerant towards children, just loved children. And so I'd go to these fabulous restaurants, of course, they were nothing posh or anything, but the food. Anybody who's lived in Chicago always talks about food. If you meet another Chicagoan, the first thing you talk about is food. And my sister and Art would take me to the Rib House, fantastic ribs. The sauce is something that is never, is unrivaled, in my opinion, and I've been trying to find that recipe. And evidently, the fellow who owned the Rib House eventually moved out to Las Vegas, and I was trying my darndest to find that individual so that I could make that recipe and sell it, but we could never unearth that man. He was somewhere in Las Vegas, but it was brilliant, his sauce. And there were many restaurants in that area, there were Ginza House, and so there were ethnic restaurants. And then they would take me to movies, and so I'd go to places like the Grand. So I think I was quite precocious growing up amongst all these adults and hearing all these stories. And so Art was such a welcoming person, he never said, "What's this kid doing here?" Like, how many men would you know who'd want to go on a date and take their girlfriend's baby sister along? Very few, I mean, he was amazingly tolerant.

So I really didn't know much about his story, although I knew he spoke English with an accent. I knew he and his family danced the tango, and I knew they ate empanadas, so I knew they were slightly different from us, but I didn't know why. And at family gatherings, they would all, without any hesitation, stand up and start singing. They were innate performers, and this all came from the lifestyle they knew in Lima where they were sort of upper class. I think it was Art's grandparents that threw parties each weekend, and people would dance and enjoy themselves. So he was used to a completely different lifestyle than we were. So if you asked a Morita to get up and sing, we'd be like, "Oh, no, not me." But they would just graciously stand up and perform, and even the father sang shigin.

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

VY: So Art was originally Japanese Peruvian.

DC: Yes, and he was born in Lima, and, of course, kidnapped by the American government, smuggled into the United States, imprisoned in Crystal City, and it was a devastating experience for him, although this was a man I never heard complain, never. And he used to be driven to school by a chauffeur, and the lifestyle that they knew was quite leisurely and elegant, I think. And here they come and they go, they're thrown into Crystal City, they're stateless because their documents have been destroyed, and then the war is over and America has no use for them in prisoner of war exchanges. And the way I tell the story is at the beginning of the war, the Americans were losing in the Pacific. And the Japanese had American captives, and they were probably diplomats that were caught in Japan or on Japanese territories. So there were American citizens that were there, and America wanted to bring them back, and I must stipulate that they were white and of a special status. So FDR wanted to get them back, but because Americans were losing the war, and because it was very difficult to take Japanese soldiers as captives, first of all, they're very fierce fighters, and they were instructed to commit seppuku if they were going to be taken captive, so they were told, they were instructed to commit suicide. So it was very difficult for Americans to have any prisoners of war to trade for these white Americans that were caught abroad.

Now, the reason I always say "white Americans," is because I know, in many instances, Japanese Canadians and Japanese Americans were also caught in Japan, but nobody tried to get them back because they were quite happy that they were gone, right? So, at first, FDR thought of trading us, in the camps, but there was some resistance. [Interruption] So he went hostage shopping in the Latin American countries and he bribed them with money. And so they were quite willing to get rid of the Japanese immigrants because they were doing extraordinarily well, and they had already been riots there in the '30s where some Japanese Latin Americans had actually been killed. So there was already anti-Japanese sentiment there that the Peruvian government could use to rationalize this deportation. And so these ships would show up in the harbor at Callao, and Mr. Shibayama would escape into the mountains, he was very clever. And he held out until 1944, I believe, and that was when the Peruvians officials decided to arrest Mrs. Shibayama and put her in jail as a way of getting him to come out. And the sad story there, besides the fact that they would revert to that kind of barbaric behavior, was that Fusa Shibayama, Art's younger sister, refused to let her mother go to jail alone, so she went with her mother. She was that kind of person, she was an extraordinary person, just beautiful and loving and kind, and also extremely talented as an actress and as a dancer. But anyway, she was in prison with her mother, and then, of course, Mr. Shibayama had to come out, and that's the undue circumstances by which Art was deported and taken prisoner.

VY: How old was Art at the time?

DC: Oh, dear, I think he was thirteen. And even when you look at his pictures when he was young, and I've looked them recently, you can see what an extraordinary physicality he had. He looked well-fed, athletic even then, because I think he swam quite a bit when he visited his grandparents. So he looked like a very sturdy specimen and he was. I mean, he was very athletic and very attractive, and he goes to Crystal City and he becomes a member of the baseball team there. So then America wants to get rid of them and Peru won't take them back. And so they become, they could stay in America as long as they had a sponsor, so Seabrook Farms opportunistically, I would say, became their... what do they call that? Sponsor. So they went there and were treated virtually like slaves, basically. They received pittance for the kind of work they did, and of course, these were children working, Art and Fusa were working. And they couldn't go to school, which is just a tragedy for Art, who was a very intelligent person who always valued education. But he knew he had to do this because there was a baby on the way, the father couldn't support everyone because the mother couldn't work, so the eldest two worked and sacrificed their education. And Art did that for most of his life; he was constantly giving money and support to members of his family, and being kind to the Morita family in particular and allowing me into their lives. Like I'm surprised they didn't take me on their honeymoon. [Laughs] But I remember, after they were married, I was often taken out to eat with them, I would sleep in the same bed with them, if I had a tummyache he'd rub my tummy for me, I mean, it was just incredible the generosity of this individual. And me going along with all this, because I was totally ignorant of what he had gone through. And then, of course, being denied official status for so long, although they were happy to take him into the army, and then him having to go to Canada, to come in to get official status that way. Because as far as the American government, they wanted to deny that incidence of extraordinary rendition ever happened. To this day they still deny it. And so there was no official apology made to them when we received our redress in 1988. So Art just kept fighting the good fight despite the fact that many people accepted the settlement of five thousand dollars after the Mochizuki lawsuit was settled out of court. And he decided, no, that he didn't need the five thousand.

VY: That was later, right?

DC: That was after the Civil Liberties Act because the Japanese Latin Americans were not included in the apology. And when he saw the letter that was given to the Japanese Latin Americans, he said they didn't even mention the specific incidents. To him, it was a cover up, which it was, (in my view). I think he was absolutely right. And where I live in Canada, we can all relate to this, because this is an act of extraordinary rendition. And Maher Arar, I don't know if you know about that case, he was a Syrian who was at the JFK airport and the American government abducted him, even though he was a Canadian citizen and took him to Syria for torture. So that's another case of extraordinary rendition where America acts in total denial of the rights of citizens from another country. As far as they're concerned, these are people to be used for their means. And so they were never going to apologize and fully recognize what they had committed during the Second World War.

And so, but Art kept fighting the good fight, and his picture is in the San Jose museum, and he's received many awards for his courage. And then his case was never heard in an American court, even though he tried to get legislation passed (through) Congress, and instigated a lawsuit in the States, but it was always dismissed on technicalities so his case was never heard in the American courts. And so once you exhaust all avenues of remedy, you may then go to the international courts. So I believe it was the year before he died that he testified before the Inter-American Commission (of Human Rights) of the Organization of American States, along with his daughter, Bekki. They went to Washington, D.C., and actually talked about what happened to him. And it's recorded, but they're still waiting for a ruling, the OAS has not come out with a ruling, and of course, I believe that the OAS really is an instrument of the American government, it's highly influenced by the Americans. And the American commissioner who was supposed to be sitting on that tribunal never showed up. But that's all been recorded, and the testimony that my niece, Bekki, gave, Bekki Shibayama, was inspiring, and it made me feel so proud because I had changed her diapers and fed her milk from a bottle because I was her babysitter, not only her aunt but her babysitter. And she just stood there and she just quietly said, when someone asked her, "What did you feel when you learned about what happened to your father?" And I think she was eleven at the time when she heard the story and she said, "I wondered about the Pledge of Allegiance, the phrase, 'with liberty and justice for all,' what does it really mean?" And she said this without any vitriol, just very calm, just like her dad, standing up in front of all those people. And it was a significant moment in my family's life and in Art's life, and I'm so glad he went there with her, that he had her support. And it's all recorded, and I talk about that. Now, we will be talking about his story at the Greenwood Public Library later this month, I've been invited, because many people do not know his story because it's been hidden from view. That's why they call it the "hidden internment," or they call his DVD documentary, Hidden Internment: The Art Shibayama Story.

And so he died when he was eighty-eight, never getting the apology he deserved, but honored and much beloved by the community, especially in California. His life, although I sometimes despair over it, he was a very popular man. He was a talented baseball player, so whenever you’re an athlete as a male, you get special status, right? And he was able to drink California wine, and he had very good taste in wine. So whenever I go to visit my sister, I always sneak a bottle of his wine because it's so good. And they often went dancing in San Francisco with Fusa and her husband because they were very good dancers, and he has two wonderful children. He was even able to own a Cadillac once. But an extraordinary individual in many, many ways. We're so lucky to know him.


VY: We were just talking about Art Shibayama and your sister, Betty, and what is this a photograph of?

DC: This is their wedding in 1955, and I was the junior bridesmaid, so it was quite an elaborate wedding party. And so there are people in this picture that are members of Art's family. So, of course, there's Art and then his brother, Kenbo and his youngest sister, Kazu. And there's another fellow, Japanese Peruvian besides, of course, his brother, it's Shiro Kudo, and he too was smuggled into the United States under the same circumstances, so they became part of Art's coterie of friends, and then Joe Nishimura his brother-in-law. And then next to me is my niece Candy, who is Ruth's eldest daughter, she now lives in Florida. And then Betty's maid of honor was Flora, my sister Flora, and then in the middle is May Ikeda, who was Betty's best friend in Chicago. And I believe they went to Wells High School together. And then the other bridesmaid is Mary Jane Ito, who I got to know in Chicago. And the ring bearer is my nephew Kevin Kaneko, who's Dorothy's youngest son. Youngest.

VY: That's a great picture, thank you.

DC: Yeah, you're welcome.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

VY: Okay, so let's back up a little bit to your early days in Chicago. I just wanted to talk a little bit more about where you lived, what your apartment was like, if you remember, if you have any strong memories of what your apartment looked like, what it smelled like, and if you ever went to visit other friends and if their apartments were different. What was the, sort of, ethnic makeup of the area, were most of your neighbors Japanese Americans or different, that sort of thing.

DC: Thank you. So the apartment that we lived in, that I lived in with my parents and my sisters was on a floor that was different than the apartment that my brothers lived in with my grandfather and my uncle, Mr. Hachiya. So we were physically separated in that sense, but we were still in the same complex, and that building was called LaSalle Mansion, and it was owned by Hiroshi Kaneko's family. And this was the area that we were allowed to live in, because when my eldest sister, Dorothy, and her husband first attempted to live in Chicago, they would go from apartment to apartment and they would say, "No Japanese here, we don't want Japanese people here." And then my sister would explain, "We are not Japanese, we're Japanese Americans," but they still didn't want us to live there. And so they realized that they had to make different accommodations, so Hiroshi's father, who had some means, purchased this apartment building. So it became convenient for many Nikkei to go live there, but it wasn't entirely, the building wasn't entirely occupied by Japanese Americans. In fact, Hiroshi, I just read this before I left Nelson, there was actually a prostitute living there, and he was arrested for it.

VY: Hiroshi was?

DC: Yeah, for having housed a prostitute. And, of course, he didn't know she was a prostitute when they bought the building. And evidently someone of some influence came to bail Hiroshi out and said, "Don't you arrest this person ever again." But that was the kind of neighborhood we were living in. So there were prostitutes there, probably drug dealers, and I believe that LaSalle Mansion was the hideout of Roger Touhy who was a member of, some gangster outfit, I don't know that much about Roger Touhy. But you know, Chicago always has this kind of legendary status of criminal activity and so on, but we were in the middle of it. And as I said, my sisters went to work against child labor laws, some of them worked at the McCormick Y. And my sister, Betty, tells me that they were not allowed to go through the front door, they could only go through the back door. And yeah, so they worked, but the ethnic neighborhood itself, okay, so I remember David Kaina, who was, his father was from Hawaii, and I believe his mother was white, so he was mixed race, so he lived in the building. There were other Japanese, Nikkei, of course, and then there was a Jewish couple that lived there. And so the school I went to was very diverse in its population, there were also Puerto Ricans in the neighborhood, and there were many restaurants, I remember restaurants everywhere.

There was the Diamond grocery store where we often bought food, and there was also this Toguri family that owned the Diamond grocery store, also owned the Diamond mercantile store, that's very famous. And that's where Iva Toguri worked. Now, Iva Toguri, when I was growing up, had this infamous reputation of being "Tokyo Rose." And I was a child then and I really didn't understand the significance of it, but as the truth came out, she was stranded in Japan, and she was not one of the people that FDR wanted to get back. And so she was incarcerated for a long period of time, she had even lost, she had a very tragic story, she was married to a man who came to testify on her behalf and was deported from the United States. And so she was not only, lost her child before returning to the United States, but she had also lost her marriage, her marriage was broken by the American government. And I think, if the truth were told, there were at least eighteen women who were used as broadcasters by the radio station that (Iva Toguri) went to work for, so she was not the Tokyo Rose, it wasn't the Tokyo Rose. And then there's even talk about the fact that there was no Tokyo Rose, that this was a name that the GIs made for whoever, whatever female was talking on the radio. And she, in fact, had done some extraordinarily humane things by giving aid to the American soldiers caught in Japan. And she unfortunately was in this neighborhood with us, a deeply marginalized individual. You never saw her at the dances, you never saw her at church functions.

VY: Excuse me, sorry. So at this point, she had been in jail already?

DC: Yes, and had been released. Thank you for asking that question. And when I became cognizant of her presence, I was in elementary school. And so, having internalized the racism that I was oppressed by, I would tell people, "I know Tokyo Rose." And they would say, "What? You know Tokyo Rose?" I said, "Yeah, she manages that store in my neighborhood." And so one time I took a friend there, and we were standing there and we were hiding behind one of the big displays, I would point out, "That's her, that's her," and we'd be giggling. Not realizing what a cruel thing that was to do. And she was very tough-looking. (You) could imagine anybody who's been through that experience would be, and now, looking back, I feel very sorry. But it was out of pure ignorance that I was acting in that way. And so William Hohri, who was my Sunday school teacher at the Christian Fellowship Church, he was instrumental in organizing the movement that finally resulted in her being pardoned by the American government. But certainly it took a long, long time for that to happen, and the poor woman suffered all that time. Yeah, I'm very sorry for her loss and what happened to her. So, yes, she made up many of the colorful figures that we knew in that neighborhood. And the Toguri family was very well-to-do and prosperous, influential. And when I moved to Canada, one of their relatives was my family physician, and it was very interesting, her name was Dr. Toguri. And so this was a prominent family that could afford to send their daughter to Japan for whatever reason they did right before the war for her to be caught there. And I was happy to learn many significant things from William Hohri as a result of his stories and his mentorship.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

VY: How did you meet William Hohri?

DC: So William was... well, I should back up. So when we were trying to acclimatize ourselves to life in Chicago, one of the things was that we would attend the Elm LaSalle Bible Church, and that was on corner of LaSalle and Oak, I believe. And so this was a very fundamentalist church, and ran very contrary, their teachings ran very contrary to what I knew in my own family. So I don't think it had a very deep, lasting effect on me. Although I must credit them for having encouraged me to develop my memory skills. So I would memorize large sections of the Bible because you'd get badges and stars and recognition for that. And I got my first public speaking gig with them, I can't remember under what occasion I did that. But I stood at the pulpit of that church, and I rattled off something, some speech I had written, and it was well-received by the community. Somebody there said, "Do you do public speaking? You should do that on a regular basis, you're good at it." And I thought, "Hmm," so I must give them credit for that. And then Dorothy decided -- because Dorothy, my elder sister, was a very ambitious woman. She decided we needed to go to a church where there were more people who looked like us. So we went on the north side of Chicago, and we went down the stairs to the basement to our Sunday school class. There sat this interesting looking fellow with a crew cut and a bow tie, he had these horned rimmed glasses, yeah, he was a very interesting man. Very well-educated, and interested in the intellectual concepts of Christianity. He became a good friend of mine because I think he was someone who liked to talk, and I think he was garrulous in that way, and I think he was someone who was extremely kind. And he probably saw this person who was kind of, maybe a lonely adolescent, maybe he perceived that, I'm not sure, but I would often confide in him. And so there were moments when we would slip into his car because maybe he wanted to show me... so I think he wanted to show me a document that was in his car, and then it started raining, so then we started talking in the car and I would confide in him.

And he was the first person who told me about the resisters in Tule Lake, because, of course, he also answered "no-no" on the questionnaire. And he had been incarcerated at Manzanar, but as a young person before then, his father had moved them around quite a bit because he was a minister. [Interruption] And they were so poor that eventually the parents developed tuberculosis and had to place William and some of his other brothers and sisters in an orphanage. So when William was two years old, he knew what it was to be abandoned. Surrounded by people that he knew didn't care about him, and he says, "That's a feeling you never get over." So he had a very unique background, and he also told me that he was in high school with Marilyn Monroe. So years later, when I attended his memorial service in L.A., we all entered the mortuary, and there was this huge blow up photograph of his class, and it was a very, very large class. And there was an arrow pointing to William and an arrow pointing to Marilyn Monroe. And he told me, "She was the prettiest girl in my class, and she had her hair done every week.” And she was absolutely gorgeous back then as well, the camera loved her back then, too. But he was so interesting, the stories he would tell, and he had a very interesting, quirky sense of humor. Yeah, he was someone so uniquely different from my family that it was almost a relief to be in his company and to hear the stories that he told. And he had a unique approach to Christianity, he read the Bible like a book and he would think about these things, he'd look at it from a much broader perspective.

And he wrote plays, and he often invited me to participate in those plays, and he was very kind to me. And one of those plays was performed at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago because Chicago, the theme at Christmas was Christmas Around the World, so they invited all these different ethnic groups to participate. And so we performed his play, and from then I was invited to participate, to perform in "Rashomon" at the Lincoln Park Theater. But oddly enough, my career as an actress was curtailed by my dad because he didn't want me to perform in that play because he thought that was, well, you know, it's about a rape, and I would have been playing the woman who had been raped, and he thought that would not be such a great thing for me to participate in and so I didn't participate. But it was an honor to be asked, and I never thought I was a particularly good actress anyway, I was very much inhibited and very self-conscious and lacking in a great deal of self-confidence. But William, he let me act in his two plays and he was just that kind of person, just very generous in his thinking. And he loved music, so we used to sing, my nieces and I, in the choir. And he would always encourage us because he would say, "That music is one of the wonderful (consolations) of life," he really enjoyed music. Yeah, a very, very intelligent person, a very kind person.

And then, of course, he was the one who left that church soon after we became exiles in Canada over the Vietnam War. He wanted the Christian Fellowship Church to pass some resolution or to make a stand against the Vietnam War, and the majority of the congregation was not sympathetic to him. And so he left that church (this) person of principle, and then he joined another church that invited Latins and, I think, gay people at that time. And then he eventually became unchurched, and that's how he identified himself. And then he took up the cause of suing the American government, and so he formed this NCJAR organization, and he was the lead plaintiff in that case and it got all the way up to the Supreme Court, but then the Supreme Court refused to hear it, and evidently the Supreme Court can do that kind of thing. But there is a picture of him standing on the steps leading up to the Supreme Court at JANM, the Japanese American National Museum, with his bow tie, standing next to Aiko Herzig, who was instrumental in helping him do research. But even though it was refused, he was somebody with the temerity to sue America, he was just that kind of person. He was just an individual of immense integrity, and he thought it should be done. And whatever we received in redress was a pittance compared to what he was asking for. But his actions forced the JACL and its representatives in Congress to push for a legislative remedy. Had William not done that, it would never have become evident that there were that many people who thought that the American government should apologize to us, and they needed to acknowledge the violation of civil liberties. So I credit William with having moved America in the right direction and certainly the Japanese American community, galvanized them in a way that no one else had done before on principle. So I stayed in contact with him even though we lived in Canada and I often visited him. But things are lost as you move away from one another, but my immense respect for this individual has never wavered. I owe him and his family a great deal.

VY: Sounds like he was a very important influence in your life and a bit of a kindred spirit.

DC: Yes, and he would always say to me, "The most important thing, Diana, is to value yourself, to think well of yourself." I think he understood how inferior I felt. And I mean, to be blunt, and yeah, and no one else had ever said that to me. And now, as I've aged and have written a book, and have gone out on speaking tours and have received awards and recognition, I think now I have a better understanding of myself and I do like myself more. That I do see that I have some usefulness, some value, some purpose. That there has been some purpose to my life even though it was formed out of chaos and degradation. That from that experience you can weave stories that can transcend time even. Because many of these stories have resonance now to what's happening all over the world, the treatment of the "other" and how we can either turn away from that experience or embrace it. So yeah, it was a pleasure to know him.

VY: Before we finish talking about him, do you have a picture of him?

DC: Yes, thank you for reminding me. This is a picture of William. And it's so uniquely him, there he is in his jeans. And he bought a car with the money he received from redress, and then the license plate says "redress" on it. And this card, it's inscribed, it says, "Well, Diana, the plates are the car's best accessory, October 1991, Chicago." He had a great sense of humor, he was just a great person.

VY: That's a great picture.

DC: Yeah, nobody like William, never will be. Pleasure to remember him.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

VY: Well, let's see. Is there anything about Chicago, growing up in Chicago that you would like to talk about before we move on to things you did later in life? I know you went to college.

DC: Yeah, that's sort of... I graduated salutatorian, and I knew that I didn't have a very good background going to university because I had gone to a school that was not very academically-oriented. And I really had wanted to go to a private school like my niece had, and I was deprived of that opportunity. And so I don't recall really being a very happy adolescent, but I learned many things at Wells High School that I value today, and that has to do with the people that went there. And there were many Polish people there, and they fed into Wells High School, and there were many black people and many Italians, and many people who were of immigrant background. And there were many tensions between those populations, but I managed to get along relatively well with everyone. And I take what I know now about the people that were certainly less advantaged, less privileged than the people who would have gone to someplace like Francis Parker, that they're great people, that their struggles are important. And I think what was very important for me to witness at Wells High School was the treatment of, I guess, the African Americans. And I remember one fellow being in my class and being mistreated by the teacher, and I knew he was being discriminated against, and I said nothing. And I think I was so interested in my own, my furthering myself, that I forgot about my obligations to stick up for people who were less privileged than I was.

And it's a very interesting thing about ambition and wanting to be a model minority, which I often talk about because this is a temptation for people who've been discriminated against to be accepted. And so you often... what's the word? You distort your values, you compromise, you prostitute your values, which you know are so integral to who you are in your own history, to ambition. And so I wanted to go to college and I wanted to do well, and I wasn't going to sacrifice my status in the classroom to stick up for this one individual. And I never even said anything to him. So in that sense I was denying his humanity, and I'm sorry for that. And this is a very interesting topic. So I think that there are other ambitions that are important to pursue over being accepted. I think those ambitions have to do with following your insights as my husband calls it. I had that insight that that black child was being discriminated against and I denied that insight that I had.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

DC: And I was very fortunate to meet my husband at Roosevelt University, and I've had a very sporadic academic life after leaving high school, largely because I believe I had no confidence in myself, and I believe that I had received a poor high school education, and there was no way I could compete with the students around me at the University of Chicago. And when I met my husband at Roosevelt University, he had just returned from a stint in Atlanta, Georgia, and he was working with SNCC to integrate the lunch counters in Atlanta. And what they would do is the white students would sit down at the lunch counter, order their food, the food would come, and they would move away and then a black SNCC student would sit down in their stead. And my husband told me these stories, and I thought, wow, that's pretty special. And he said he remembered being knocked to the ground after sitting at that lunch counter and looking up and seeing one of the other black SNCC members sitting at the lunch counter, and a white girl about the same age sitting there, who wasn't involved in this protest, look over to him, his name was Taylor Washington, that's what my husband said, and handing him her plate of food. And he said, my husband said had he not been knocked to the ground, he would not have had that angle to see that transaction take place. And he said what he saw there was a pure act of love. And he was very grateful for that, and he's passed on that story. And I think about that and I think how we are all capable of this, but it was wonderful to see in children. With no adults around them to stop, stop this young white girl from doing the right thing, to speak from the heart, basically, to this other person who was also, she was valuing him and giving him dignity. And we are capable of doing this, and it's more important, that act is more important than any PhD you could ever attain. If you can't do that, there's something lacking in us that we feel constrained, either by our family or by our culture or by our society or by our government, to honor the dignity of another individual. And so I saw that in myself when I went to high school, and I've tried to remember it. I don't think that I'm a perfect specimen of humanity or diplomacy or kindness, but I'm very proud to know my husband did that, and he was a white person who had white privilege. And he chose to go down there because his friend had beckoned him down. His friend was a high school friend from high school in Lombard, Illinois, and he was going down so Wayne decided he'd go down.

When you take part in the movement like that, and, of course, the prisons were segregated at that time. So if you're white and you go into the white prison, you are not a hero, you're a bad guy. And so they beat my husband up, and to protect him, they put him in solitary, and my husband was very happy to go into solitary as a result of having been beaten up. And there he took part in a hunger strike, and he could hear his friend, who was also in solitary confinement, and they would talk, somehow, to each other. And my husband said the only time he was afraid was when the door opened because then you didn't know what they would do to you. And so they were on a hunger strike and were eventually released, and someone had put up the bail. And to this day my husband believes it was Harry Belafonte who had bailed him out, because evidently he had contributed to that cause a great deal. And so, yes, so we have a great deal of gratitude and respect for Harry Belafonte and his work. And so if you were a black person and you had participated in the Civil Rights Movement, and you went to the segregated part of the prison, you were a hero, so that was a distinct difference. And my husband tells me this very dramatic story about how when he was released, he was passing by a window and he looked in and he saw his reflection, and he was so surprised to see a white face. That his identity had become so fused with the black movement that he himself felt that he was black. So he had made this transition from white privilege in the suburbs to understanding what it is to be black person through that experience of the Civil Rights Movement and being in prison and working with black people.

And then the black people threw the whites out of the movement. So when my husband asked them why, "Why are you throwing us out? We want to keep working with you." They said, "Because at the end of the summer you will go back to your nice house with nice appliances, refrigerators, and we'll still be stuck here." So he was very hurt by that, but I guess that's how movements grow and develop and change. So he returned (to Chicago) that's how I met him at Roosevelt University. And I think had I not met William, I don't think I would have ever recognized what real character looks like. Not that my family weren't full of characters in different ways, but they weren't quite the individuals who were willing to stand up like that, as individuals. They were more interested in keeping the family together, which is also an honorable ambition given what could have happened to us in the camps. I guess we all have different ambitions given the circumstances we find ourselves in. But because of his white privilege, he was able to then transcend his personal life and to make that connection with other people who needed his help, obviously. And through that experience, I believe he became a better person, although I didn't know him before that.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

Yeah, and then when the Vietnam War came, my husband had already decided he was a pacifist, my husband is very forward-thinking. And he had already applied for conscientious objector status before he had been drafted, but they rejected it. And so he went to Canada because he was not going to go back to prison. He had seen too much in prison that he knew that when that prison door slams behind you, you don't know what's going to happen to you. And we had already been married, and he didn't want to be separated from me, so he decided the best decision was to go to Canada. And he was one of the few war resisters who actually had a job to go to in Canada because he was so forward-thinking and because he had graduated from university. The "brain drain" became reversed in the '60s, so many times it was the well-educated Canadians that went down to the United States to seek their fortune, but this time, this very well-educated population of my generation moved northward, and there were at least two hundred thousand of them, and they have made a distinct contribution to Canada.

VY: Was that a hard decision for you to make, to leave the United States and move to Canada knowing that you most likely probably wouldn't move back to the United States?

DC: It was terrible for me, I think. Not to exaggerate, I think I'm pretty much a coward. [Laughs] And you know, being married to this person who's telling me this stuff, I just couldn't deal with that. I was thinking, "What is he saying?" Surely to god he's going to... I don't know, avoid it in some way or somebody said he should go into the national guard. Oh, I know. His grandfather, who had come out a general in the Second World War, had told him that he should get a desk job. And he probably could have gotten one through the connections of his grandfather. But my husband did not believe in the military, he did not believe people should go around killing each other, that was not the way to deal with problems in the world, and he still doesn't. And, of course, many people in America have sort of come around to the fact that that war was very wrong and that we shouldn't have been killing, what was it, I don't know how many millions of Vietnamese. And, of course, Muhammad Ali, who was of our generation, felt exactly the same way and was vilified, stripped of his heavyweight championship. So I think America did itself a great disservice by losing some of the best of my generation, and as a result, some of the worst of our generation have become presidents of the United States. People who have not done service, and I could list them, there's three of them that I can think of right offhand. So I think Canada got the best of what America had produced.

But, of course, we didn't, I don't think that our generation was moving in that direction to end up in Canada, we really wanted to transform the world, and we were going to transform it through JFK and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. We were going to make America this idealistic democracy where everyone truly was equal. And that was our vision but it was all shot down. In 1968, all the assassinations, all that dream was just trashed. And I cry over it even to this day because I think we were so close to achieving that dream. And, of course, the music out of that period, I mean, America was so creative, still is. But I think it was, it had reached an apex at that point, and it could have turned in a much different direction that it has, and it's a tragedy for everyone. Yeah, so is that what you wanted me to talk about?

VY: I was wondering how your family felt about --

DC: Oh, yes. I think they were very conflicted because, of course, my family, the Morita family, came from the samurai class and then there was this whole tradition, right, of going into the military, and so these were the values that I was instilled with. And then the story of Frank Hachiya, and then there's this man standing in front of me that was very fond of saying, "I'm not going to kill anybody for anybody." So, "What am I going to do here, and I'm married to him?" And my family was very silent, and when Nikkei are silent you know that they are being disapproving, basically. Or maybe they were hiding behind the silence themselves, maybe they really didn't want to come to terms. Because doubting your country, right, would be a sign of disloyalty, and they were accused of being disloyal during the Second World War. So it put them in a very awkward state and so my father and mother did say, "We feel safer with you being in Canada," because they knew that I was on the streets protesting the Vietnam War and they were worried about that, so they felt, well, maybe it would be safer for them out of the fray up there. So that's sort of how they came to terms with it, but not really fully understanding where Wayne was coming from. But they, many of them visited me in Canada, it wasn't as if I was, like, discarded. But going into a new country like Canada, was very difficult for me because I felt like I was stepping backwards. I went to Toronto and there was only one Japanese grocery store. There were no Japanese restaurants.

VY: This was in the '60s?

DC: In 1968. And I didn't know anyone there, of course, except for the people that I worked with, and none of them were Nikkei. And it was very difficult to meet up with Japanese Canadians, and when I did and I wanted to relate the stories of the incarceration, they would not talk about it. And so it was, everything was very awkward. And so I think people with white privilege who go to Canada -- they are accepted pretty well because they're the same race. But people like me, I felt very much at odds with the society there. The only thing, when they talked about race relations, they were talking about the conflict between the French and English, right? And I'm thinking, "What is this?" So there was this picture of racial tensions on the cover of The Globe and Mail, and it was white people yelling at white people, and I'm going, "What the heck is this?" But that's sort of old world thinking, it's part of Europe. So they were fighting and then the FLQ happened and all that stuff. But we were always sort of, because of my husband and because of our sympathies, we generally allied ourselves with people of color. And one of the most gracious people was Joy Thomas, and she was from the Caribbean and she was black. And she invited us many times to her home, she was married to a white Canadian, they had many parties at their home. So I got to know a lot about the commonwealth. So it was very much an education for me, hard come by, but I learned about the British empire and Canada as a colonial country and their institutions.

But it was very, very lonely, and the only thing that I could sort of relate to was the architecture that was designed by Raymond Moriyama, who was a Japanese Canadian architect who had been incarcerated in the Slocan, very close to where I live now in the Kootenay, West Kootenay of B.C., and he became a very well-known architect. And so amongst all this landscape that was largely shaped from the British tradition, you would see some of his creations, and so I held those very close to my heart. And I was very privileged to meet him at my launch in Toronto. He was sitting there in my audience, I was just so overwhelmed, he was such a handsome man. And so empathetic, charismatic, such an artist, and I was able to give him a copy of my book and tell him how much he enriched my life, his work enriched my life.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

DC: So it was a struggle to become established in Canada, and I went and studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music and got my diploma there and became a piano teacher through that. And my husband got his master's in English at York University and got a fellowship there, but we still didn't know very many Japanese Canadians that I recall. But we did know a Vietnamese family, a couple, and they were discriminated against and Wayne helped them. And a result of his having been involved in their case during the FLQ crisis, which was when the FLQ, which were the separatists, the young separatists had formed this group called the FLQ, they actually kidnapped a Minister of Justice in the Quebec government and killed him and took a British diplomat, James Cross as hostage in order to try to gain concessions from Pierre Elliott Trudeau. And so Pierre Elliott Trudeau declared the War Measures Act, which is the same act that had expelled the Japanese Canadians from the lower mainland of B.C. They suspend all civil liberties, and so under that act, you may act in an inhumane way. And so 22,000 Japanese Canadians were dispossessed and dislocated through the War Measures Act that was passed, that was declared by Mackenzie King in 1942. And when I was in Toronto, I started reading Ken Adachi's book called The Enemy that Never Was, and I was just blown away by the extent of suffering that the Japanese Canadians went through, much longer, much harder in many ways than what we had been affected by. And so I'm kind of seeing parallels between the War Measures Act in 1969, I believe, and what happened to the Japanese Canadians. But anyway, concessions were made by Pierre Elliott Trudeau and those, really they were terrorists, were sent to Cuba. And some concessions were made, and eventually French became the second official language of Canada.

But at that time, because of my husband's involvement with this Vietnamese couple, there was a knock on our door during the War Measures Act when we had moved to Belleville, and these two plainclothesmen asked for my husband. So I went over and I woke my husband up because he was taking a nap, and I said, "There's two RCMP outside our door." And so my husband came to the door and they said, "You're accused of smuggling stereo component parts into Canada." And my husband, being this very methodical person, he had saved all our receipts. So we had legally imported parts to have a friend of ours put together, and he said, "Of course we did that, the stereo's right there, you can see it." But he said, "But here are the receipts." And they said, "This is very interesting," they said, "you should wonder who your friends are in Toronto." And, of course, this was in Toronto where my husband had taken up the cause of this Vietnamese couple. But my husband said, "Well, why don't you just look up in your database or in your records to see whether we had imported these things legally or not? I mean, surely, because they were imported legally, you would have records of this?" And they said, "Oh, no, in customs cases, you are considered guilty until proven innocent." So at that time they were looking, I think, to deport us.

VY: That's so scary, isn't it? I mean, in some ways, there's parallels to that particular incident and what happened to many Japanese Americans during World War II.

DC: With a knock on the door, right. And their having to burn all their possessions and things. So the suspension of civil liberties is a mistake, but it's an act of sheer power, executive power to do that. And you have no recourse. And we were landed immigrants at that time, so we could have easily been deported. And my husband would still, I think he had a bounty on his head. When you leave the United States, and I think they put a warrant out or something because you were supposed to be drafted, and so there was a bounty on his head. It was something insignificant like fifteen dollars or something, but nonetheless, it just increased my sense of insecurity. And having known insecurity probably from the time I was a fetus, this was not a welcome feeling I was having, and my husband could not travel out of Canada for the longest time because he did not have a passport.

VY: So what changed over time? How did things change related to that?

DC: Related to my sense of insecurity?

VY: Well, yes. [Laughs]

DC: I think that's always with you. I think that's part of my DNA, frankly. Because as we know now, trauma that's experienced by our ancestors are lodged in our DNA and traveled down through the generations, unfortunately. But I certainly feel more comfortable in Canada, I've lived there for most of my life, more than I have in the United States. You're going to ask me a question? So the thing is, of course, one is socialized at very crucial points in your childhood to America, and there's something very appealing about the American myth. And so I was instilled or indoctrinated in a certain way. And then I had to adopt this new set of values that was much different. The idea of being in a commonwealth, what does that mean? And it was very, very interesting because I think the Canadian personality is so much different than American. And I even spent many hours on a psychotherapist's couch trying to come to terms with all this information and confusions that I've had. And I had one time gone to see a counselor, I think that was his title, who had also been an American draft dodger, but of Jewish background. And he said to me, he said, "You know, I think you probably have more difficulty than other people in Canada because your nature is a bit more aggressive." And I think Americans tend to be very forthright in the way they express themselves, and, of course, Trump is the extreme on that spectrum, right? Where he should keep his mouth shut a lot more than he does, but where Canadians are far more moderate in the way they express themselves.

VY: So do you feel more like an American or a Canadian, or does it kind of depend? Like when you're in America, do you feel like you're more like a Canadian, when you're in Canada, do you feel like you're more like an American, do you know what I mean? [Laughs]

DC: That's very insightful of you to say because one is constantly doing comparisons. And so yes, when I come down to the States, I see what is of value in Canada, and when I'm in Canada, I miss certain things about the States. But I guess I have the best of both worlds because I've had both experiences. And my husband has always been able to get employment even though he and I were constantly testing the waters there because of our unique perspectives on things. Once you stand up to authority like we did by leaving the United States, you're constantly questioning everything, and you certainly don't trust your government to look out for you even though, in Canada, they largely do, right? Because they've got the universal health care, they've got old age pension, and when our son was born, we would get a baby bonus. And when we lived in Nova Scotia there was free dental care for children up to the age of fifteen. And so we have had the benefits, probably, of both countries, and because I guess I can say the serendipity of having left when we did. So when my husband came up to Canada, the Canadian universities, the education system were hungry for people who had been educated so it was easy for him to get jobs and to get fellowships. And because, once again, white privilege and male, he was able to get fellowships. And people gave him the benefit of the doubt, whereas with me, I had to prove myself, so there was a difference in our status and it's always been.

But I think the trials that we've had in Canada made Wayne and I closer. And I became more in sync with his values and began to understand him more, probably because I became inculcated with his values just like I was inculcated by William and his values. Because they made sense to me, it appealed to my intellect rather than to my emotions. But, I mean, being a biracial couple has its challenges. When we went to Toronto and would go into a store, they never thought we were together. And, of course, now, ninety-five percent of the Nikkei have married into, have entered into interracial relationships.

VY: So you think acceptance of that has changed over time?

DC: Oh, definitely in Toronto. I mean, Toronto is a majority Chinese and Asian now. So, I mean, it's just a different Toronto than the Toronto we knew that was largely dominated by WASPs. And when I was going to the Royal Conservatory of Music, teachers there were speaking very resentfully of the "foreigners that were coming in." And then they would say to me, "Why do you speak English so well?" So, yeah, it was a real education, and then learning about the Japanese Canadian experience was really another, I guess I could say an enriching experience because I could see the similarities between the two experiences. So my perspective on what happened to us in the United States became enlarged by what I learned about the Japanese Canadian experience. And then so when I give talks, I weave both into each other and then I can add Art's story. And really it was a fight for the Pacific, who was going to control the Pacific Rim. And the Japanese were into building an empire at that time and then we now know who has the most military bases around the world, and who won that war.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

VY: Yeah, so I was wondering what it was like on September 11th for you? I assume you were living in Canada?

DC: Yeah, and ironically, by that time, my husband had been, he didn't come under the pardon that was offered by Gerald Ford or was it... anyway, he was, they dropped the case against my husband because the Selective Service never gave a reason for denying his conscientious objector status, which was different from those who had been pardoned, maybe it was under Jimmy Carter. So my husband was working in the London Public Library and they pushed him out, basically. They were pushing out all the senior administrators, and so he saw the handwriting on the wall and was looking around frantically for a place to land. And being the adventurous sort that he is, he said, "Hey, do you want to go live in Lake Tahoe?" So, ironically, we were in Lake Tahoe, and my husband was working at Sierra Nevada College, and I was going to school there and also working at the library on September 11th. And this knock comes on our door at seven o'clock in the morning from the lady who lived upstairs from us. She was Jewish and she was from New York, and her son was living in Manhattan. And Wayne answered the door and she said, "Wayne, Wayne, you have to come upstairs." So Wayne observed this as it was happening, because I think she saw the first tower being hit, but the second tower he was watching. And I was, I think, getting ready to go to work or go to take a class or something, and I did not see it, but he saw it. And he was saying, "Is this a movie? What is this?" And, yeah, we were, of course, very much affected. And everyone around us, people started putting up the flags on their SUVs, because there were mostly SUVs in Lake Tahoe.

Of course, it dominated the media for a very, very long time, but I really felt that -- and we both felt -- that this was sort of like Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor wasn't, Hawaii wasn't a state at the time of the attack, in 1941, but this was right on American soil and it was horrifying. And I'm having a hard time thinking about this time. I think that we never accepted the official party line. And we knew, I had done a great deal of research into this, that all those people who had hijacked the planes were not from Iraq as the Bush government wanted everyone to believe. They were from Saudi Arabia and had been influenced by Osama bin Laden who was a Wahhabi, he was fundamentalist Muslim. And so I don't think we ever bought the party line on it, and I don't know that you want me to get into that, but...

VY: Well, I was just wondering what went through your mind. Like you said, it was kind of similar to Pearl Harbor, and I was just wondering what kinds of things maybe went through your mind about being Japanese American at this time and seeing how other people maybe were responding to other Muslims and that sort of thing?

DC: Well, of course, there were very few Muslims in Incline Village where we lived, this is where the billionaires are pushing out the millionaires, right? So talk about white privilege, we were in the middle of it. So I'm trying to think. Of course, we saw this as an opportunity for the American government to start, and for the local population to discriminate against the other, which were the Muslims, right? And I think William Hohri was right on it, I think he was right there saying... and I think there were threats also to put them in camps, in the camps that were still in existence at the time. So, of course, now, these camps are being used to house refugees, and many of them children. And so that deeply resonates with me.

VY: Yes, perhaps that's a little more close to home, isn't it? Do you want to talk about that a little bit? Like the similarities you see now and the kind of psychological effects that sort of incarceration has on children?

DC: Yes, and of course, Satsuki Ina, who was born one day before me in Tule Lake, speaks about it very poignantly because she's a child psychologist and has actually gone into those ice boxes where those poor children are kept. And she speaks about it very poignantly at the Minidoka pilgrimage where we were. And I had no idea, of course, being in Canada, that children were put in ice boxes and separated from their mothers, or with their mothers were in these situations, and the devastating psychological effect that has. But I think, more broadly, I think that homo sapiens are a traveling species. We came out of Africa and we kept migrating. So we are a migrating species, and the idea of home and nationhood seem almost like transitory concepts that are foisted upon us, right? And that whole sense of belonging, what does it mean to belong, and what do you have to sacrifice to belong? And most times, it's your insights. And the thing is, I don't think we really have a home. I think the concept of a home is a dream. I think homelessness is an existential state that we all have and we can all relate to. And certainly because we have been a dispossessed, displaced people, and in my lifetime I've experienced it and seen it, examples of it in my life, it's very easy for me to identify with those people that are running. The children running down the road in Vietnam, the people coming up from Honduras and fleeing climate catastrophe or fleeing revolutions that America often was on the wrong side of. And so my heart is obviously with those people who want in and I have always wanted in. I wanted to be in with my family, I wanted to be in with everyone, or almost every group that I belonged to, and yet I always knew that my identity remained marginalized, that I was a citizen of the marginalized people.

And it was brought home very poignantly to me by a Métis spokesperson. To me, the Métis story is uniquely Canadian because the Métis group is defined by the French and the native people who came together when the hunters and trappers first explored Canada and brought the bounty back to the Hudson Bay Company. And so there was a unique... I hesitate to use the word "race" because I really don't know what that means, but a unique people. And they were often called the, I think it's the "Highway People." And the reason they're called the Highway People is because they were pushed out of Manitoba and they would walk along the highway. And when the RCMP would come to arrest them, they would stand and live on the side of the highway, and that small margin of land was where the RCMP had no jurisdiction. And so they were the roadside people. And I thought that was just a perfect metaphor for my state of mind.

And I think I take a certain amount of solace in it now, having become this old lady and seeing that it, having been marginalized has given me a unique perspective from which I can appreciate stories of other people and collect stories of other people, and see what is valuable about those who have been considered unvaluable. Because each of us are of value; each one of us are important. And whether we have a home or not is irrelevant, it's how we receive the other into our lives. And America always stood for that with the Statue of Liberty. Canada and the United States are immigrant countries, and to deny others who want to come in, seventy-six percent of the Canadian population do not want refugees coming in. So America's not alone, Trump is not alone. And until we understand the impermanence of things, the impermanence of our lives, we will not develop the wisdom to incorporate what is truly of value, rather than receiving indoctrination from the government and from people in authority who tell us who is of value and who isn't. It's up to us to make those choices as citizens of a democracy to say, "If you're hungry, I will feed you, if you need a friend, I will be your friend. I will not throw you in an ice box." Our humanity depends on it. So I truly value the contributions of people like Satsuki Ina and Hiroshi Shimizu and Bif Brigman and all these people who are activists and trying to speak up on behalf of those who are really friendless, and who have been deemed unwanted.

VY: Diana, thank you so much. This seems like a good place to end. I really appreciate you coming here today, it's been a pleasure.

DC: The pleasure is all mine.

VY: Thank you so much.

DC: Well, thank you for this opportunity, and thank Densho.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2019 Densho. All Rights Reserved.