Densho Digital Archive
Japanese American Museum of San Jose Collection
Title: Richard Konda Interview
Narrator: Richard Konda
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda, Tom Izu
Location: San Jose, California
Date: November 30, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-krichard_2-01-0008

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TI: Yeah, something we talked about in the pre-interview was, I think it's probably around this time, it was when you first heard about the camps, the incarceration experience. Can you describe how that happened in terms of, I think you told me about this schoolmate of yours, actually, wanting to talk to your father.

RK: Actually, it was, now that I think about it, it was actually a neighborhood, somebody else from the neighborhood that was doing a project.

TI: Oh, so this was probably junior high school then?

RK: It might have been. And it was like somebody around the corner had to do some kind of project related to World War II or whatever, and so he or she -- I don't remember now -- ended up interviewing my dad. And he kind of talked about it. And again, it wasn't something that he had really shared with us other than just, you know, as a kid you used to hear when families got together, one of the connecting points was, "What camp were you in?" And for us it's like, "What is all that about?" And we never really asked. But I think he spoke to this young girl, I think. And it's kind of, you know, she sat in the living room with him and kind of, he kind of talked to her about it.

TI: So that must have been, must have... what's the right word? It must have caught your interest, the fact that a, sort of a contemporary wanted to sit down with your father and talk about his past. So what was going through your mind when this was happening?

RK: You know, again, it was one of those things where I don't know that it really struck home to me at that point. It was just something that, that's something that my mom and dad kind of went through, and I don't know that I kind of connected all the dots at that point.

TI: And so when did that start happening? So you kind of heard Topaz, Jerome, different camps. So when did this start coming together where you got a sense of really what happened?

RK: I guess it probably would have been when, in college, you start studying U.S. history a little bit more. And then there's two sentences on that. And then, I know that I did some research on different World War II things that happened. And I remember doing, coming across an edition of Time magazine where it showed the enemy being Japanese Americans in these very stark kind of picture, and how you could tell that person from a Chinese person who's not the enemy. So they had this picture of this, this horrible-looking person who is obviously the enemy, and it had a person, a very kind-looking face that that person must be Chinese. And I remember just seeing that and thinking, "Oh, this is kind of interesting how the media is putting out this kind of propaganda."

TI: And this was something in a historical magazine that you saw when you were in college?

RK: Right, right. Or it might have been high school, I'm not sure. Not even high school, actually, and doing some kind of research. Again, I can remember coming across like a 1942 edition of Time.

TI: Was it Time, or I remember seeing a Life magazine that had that.

RK: Oh, it could have been Life, one of those.

TI: "How do you tell the difference between a Chinese and Japanese," And they looked at the eyes, the nose, and the mouth.

RK: Right. And obviously for the Japanese, it said "sneaky eyes" and all these kind of very negative characteristics.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.