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…”
Janet and Buddy
When a stranger accosted Tony Gemignani in front of his own restaurant in San Francisco’s North Beach, a historic Italian American neighborhood, Tony told him to move along. But then the stranger began calling him names.
“You’re an f-ing dago,” he said. “You’re all f-ing dagos. I’m going to kick your wop ass around this building.”
Tony, who owns several Italian restaurants and a bakery, shakes his head. “There was some deep, deep hatred there. You could see it in his eyes. Pointing at my chest, wanting to beat me. I thought, this guy hates me because I’m successful and I’m Italian.”
CONTINUE READING Tony
I meet Fern in a juice bar in Old Pasadena. For about five minutes, it's a nice place to talk. Then the lunch crowd comes in, and the blenders whir nonstop for the next hour and a half.
Right off the bat, I get enough information from Fern to keep me off balance for our entire meeting. I didn't expect the director of the Southern California Chapter of the American Indian Movement to be a grandmother, for one thing.
We sit knee to knee at our small table and sip fruit drinks through straws. We lean close to each other's ear when we speak, as if we're friends. But it seems to me that Fern doesn't like me much, and sometimes I don't like her.
CONTINUE READING Fern