Everybody has a story.
Some of the most interesting tell us about ourselves.
One day, I visit a Japanese American friend and notice a worn booklet, published in 1942 by the American federal agency, the War Relocation Authority. It is addressed to “Americans of Japanese Ancestry.”
Inside, it says: “The democracies of the world are joined in a fight that will be fought until it is won. In this fight, all Americans are making difficult sacrifices… Wartime considerations make it necessary for you to leave your homes, your property, and old associations on the Pacific Coast military frontier, and to seek out a new, temporary way of living for the duration of the war…”
The impossibility of it almost lifts me out of my body. A chill passes through me and the hairs stand up on my arms, but I feel hot at the same time, from the blood suddenly surging through my veins.
Japanese Americans must have felt this same way, the way I did after our bomb, humiliated at being so publicly singled out and punished. But that had been one day in our lives. Japanese Americans were exiled for more than three years, simply for being who they were, in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Janet and Buddy
Marcus walks up to me, his hand out, ready to shake mine. Tall and slim, a crisp light blue shirt, dark pants and small diamond earrings, brown eyes direct and friendly.
At ten years old, Marcus was in a foster care group home with six other boys. At thirteen, he was a member of the violent street gang, the Pasadena Denver Lane Bloods.
“I joined for survival,” Marcus says. “The boys in the home were already gang members. Until I became like them, I was victimized. I went from prey to wolf.”
CONTINUE READING Marcus
Alina spent eight years of her childhood in a war zone. She and her family lived in Tehran, Iran, when Iraq invaded in 1980. The two countries had border disputes, especially about navigation rights along the Shatt al-Arab waterway, which gave both countries access to the Arabian Sea.
In just fifty-two days of the eight-year war, Tehran was hit by 118 missiles.
“It was terrible,” Alina says. “I was ten or eleven years old at that time. There was a siren when the enemy was attacking and we went to an underground place at our school. I always felt we were going to get killed."
CONTINUE READING Alina