Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Sue Kunitomi Embrey
Narrator: Sue Kunitomi Embrey
Interviewer: John Allen
Date: November 6, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-esue-02-0002

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JA: Did you yourself experience or feel any kind of racial prejudice in your personal life before the war?

SE: Not as much as some people, but we always knew that, you know, there were certain places that we couldn't go to. And in our high school we would go to dances but no one else would dance with the students. All the Japanese students would dance with the Japanese girls, and the Italian students would dance with the Italians, it was very segregated. Although the school itself was not, no, in terms of classes. But we always seemed to know that there would always be these restrictions, and, and of course those restrictive covenants that we couldn't go live in areas that we wanted to.

JA: Were there public forms of racism, say newspapers, editorially, that kind of...

SE: Yeah, there was a lot of that in the early 1900s, especially during, right after the Russo-Japanese War, and there were public swimming pools where we couldn't go to. Some Boy Scout groups would not accept minorities, so I know the Japanese community had several Boy Scout and Girl Scout units that were all Japanese. And I don't think the people could go to school after high school, go to college, in certain areas.

JA: I've seen a lot of headlines from back at that time, particularly in the Hearst newspapers where they were, I think there was a fear of Caucasians losing jobs to Japanese --

SE: Right.

JA: What was going on there in some of that?

SE: I think that after the first few years, the Japanese immigrants were trying to get into other business areas, other professions, and people were beginning to get worried about what they called the Japanese invasion, the "yellow peril," and they started to put restrictive laws on the books to keep them out of these professions. I know one doctor, medical doctor from Japan, I can't remember whether they sued the State of California or whether they were suing some medical association because he could not go into a hospital for his patients and he was restricted from practicing.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2002 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.