Densho Digital Archive
Steven Okazaki Collection
Title: Dale Minami Interview II
Narrator: Dale Minami
Location: Oakland, California
Date: February 18, 1984
Densho ID: denshovh-mdale-03-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

Q: Dale, how has this experience with the case enhanced your understanding of the camp experience and the effect on your parents' generation?

DM: I think one of the most interesting surprises for me, one that I'm still trying to sort out, is the reception we've received from the Nisei community when we went to give talks. I'd go with Fred, or Min or Gordon, and we'd give a talk to a community, let's say in Gardena, where I grew up. And this happened everywhere we went, is that the Nisei people would come up, men and women, they'd cry, they would thank us, they'd shake our hands, they'd say, "Thank you very much for what you've done." To me, it was, of course, a privilege. And so I couldn't quite understand why these men and their cases represented that much to the Nisei. And I think what I realized from that is that what they've gone through had been suppressed or repressed for years and years and years, and it was not a very simple experience. It wasn't like, oh we just went to camp and then came back. It was a very complex one with a lot of emotional depth to it. And I think only now when people can openly talk about it and openly relate their feelings and how they survived through this ordeal, did I begin to learn what a serious and I guess real deep effect the camp experience had on the Nisei. I think for them to come up and openly cry and also to thank us profusely, really indicated to me that the resistance by Fred and Gordon and Min, which fairly unusual, I mean very unusual in those days, took on a symbolic meaning to the Nisei and represented I think to a great, great degree their aspirations. I think everybody now, looking back, would like to have resisted to a much greater degree than they were able to at the time.

Q: What would say has been the psychological effect of the camp experience on the Japanese American community?

DM: That's a tough one, I think.

Q Briefly. [Laughs]

DM: Judging, I think I have to judge a lot of that from my own experience with my own parents. But understanding from talking to other Nisei parents and other Sansei, I really think that the experience had some real positive and negative consequences. I think from the positive side it really, really forced them to work harder to survive. That doesn't sound like a positive thing, but on one hand it really made them, it required them to adapt fast to making a living and just surviving. I mean, the negative parts of it are just overwhelming, I would say, in the sense that it changed people's personalities, I think it put pressures on families. I don't know, hard for me to answer that one, not being as much involved with either the Commission or some of the other work.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1984, 2010 Densho and Steven Okazaki. All Rights Reserved.