In 1942, nearly 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were forced into prisons in the interior because they looked like the enemy. Two of those prison camps were in Arkansas, a land of deep racial divide. Paul Takemoto’s mother and grandparents had been imprisoned in one of the Arkansas camps. Ashamed of his heritage and deeply rebellious, he didn’t want to know the details. A man of powerful revelations: of his past, of his parents’ past and what they mean to his self-identity, he grieves over lost time and years spent fighting a ghost he never understood. After the war, Richard Yada’s family refused to return to California, where violence against Japanese Americans was worse then it had been before the war. They became sharecroppers in Arkansas. But a code of segregation in the South ruled every interaction. A person could be only be black or white. Where did these non-white, non-black newcomers fit in? Mayor Rosalie Gould’s deep Southern accent belies a fierce determination. Her neighbors threatened her life because she had the audacity to see the prisoners not as the enemy, but as Americans who had been wronged.
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The tragedy of the Japanese American incarceration experience didn't end with the people who were in the camp.
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