Recognizing issues of dual identity in the nisei generation

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I think also, two, particular to the Japanese American community, there's a real feeling of shikata ga nai. “It just is. What will be will be. There's nothing we can do about it. We need to just go on. That's just life.” And I think a lot of this sublimation comes from that. “There's nothing we can do about the fact that we were in camp now, except for getting our lives back together again and just forgetting about it. It was a terrible thing. We don't need to think about it. We don't need to talk about, and we don't need to tell our children about it because they don't need to be burdened with it.”

But I think at the same time that sublimation is going on, that repression has to come out in some way. Certainly as a result, I think that not only was the camp experience sublimated, but also the culture was sublimated. I think there's very much a feeling that we wanted to be as American as possible. We wanted to have our kids grow up Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. We wanted to have a nice house with two-car garages, wanted to be involved in Lions Club and you know, all of these different, very classically American dream-type of activities, and try to avoid being really, really Japanese.

Date: March 23 & 24, 2000
Location: Washington, US
Interviewer: Margaret Chon, Alice Ito
Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

community identity

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