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_2-01-0009

<Begin Segment 9>

TI: Since you, especially in high school, you were around lots of Chinese Americans, talk about the dynamics between Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans growing up. I mean, was there a sense of being Asians Americans together, or was there a distinct difference between, "I'm Japanese American, you're Chinese American," and the differences between that?

RK: Yeah, I mean, for sure, a lot of the kids, the Chinese American kids were coming from Chinatown. And yeah, I think they had their identity as they were Chinese and I was not. But I think the thing that was kind of ironic in a sense is that as a young kid growing up in this era that had a lot of Italian Americans, I can remember one instance where this kid called me a "Chink." And it just kind of struck home, it's like I knew that was a really derogatory thing, but my response to him wasn't, "Hey don't say that," my response was, "Hey, I'm not Chinese." Which is kind of, you know, I guess I wasn't Chinese, but maybe the better response would have been, "Hey, that's not really appropriate to say that. But you know, as a kid...

TI: But when that was said, I mean, it was said in a derogatory sense.

RK: Right.

TI: Was it, how did you feel when that was said to you?

RK: Yeah, so it was upsetting to me that somebody would say that kind of thing to me, 'cause again, I knew that that was derogatory. And then the way he kind of set it also, kind of sent the message that you were kind of lower than me, or that...

TI: And in terms of, did you ever feel any -- and I'm not trying to, I'm generalizing a little bit -- but any of your Chinese Americans in Lowell or something, was there any kind of derogatory sense sort of focused towards you as being Japanese, Japanese American?

RK: You know, I never felt it directly to me, but I do remember there was another high school in San Francisco that had a lot of Japanese Americans, it was Washington High. And I remember somebody was on like the, one of the Chinese American folks was on the Lowell basketball team, and they made some mention about a lot of "Japs" being at the Washington, in the Washington basketball team. It's not something that I responded to, it's just something got kind of heard in passing.

TI: And conversely, when you're with Japanese Americans, was there anything, a sense towards the Chinese Americans in terms of how they viewed Japanese Americans?

RK: Yeah, I think, yeah, I think the same kind of attitude was there, too, of using certain derogatory terms about, again, if it was the, it was another, I think there was another Boy Scout troop that was centered in Chinatown. I think probably similar kind of negative words were kind of thrown in that direction as well.

TI: And during this time, was there ever a sense of this Asian American sense of Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans doing things together for, as a group?

RK: Yeah, I don't, I don't think so, not that I can, not that I can think of at that time.

TI: Okay, so this concept of Asian Americans just wasn't something that was talked about.

RK: Yeah. I don't think it was something that I was aware of at that point.

TI: Earlier you mentioned an Italian calling you a "Chink." Any other memories of being discriminated against or called out in terms of a racial name or anything like that?

RK: That's the only instance that kind of is, that I can think of.

TI: Okay.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.