Depicting issues of ethnic identity through childhood artwork

Transcripts available in the following languages:

Thirty-five or forty years later, I found these manila envelopes at my mom and dad's house, and they were filled with all the drawings that I did from the first through sixth grade. And my grandmother had kept them. And so my mother presented them to me and said, Take a look at these. You might be interested. And I pulled them all out, and sure as heck they were all the drawings I did from the first through the sixth grade.

And the ones that I found to be the most interesting were all of the ones that I drew of my family, because every time I drew my mother I drew her with blond hair and blue eyes. And it was just astonishing. I never realized it. All these years, here's my father, my sister, myself, and there's my, who's this blond? And that was my mom. And I'm sure I did that because for every good intention, it was, I wanted her to be the ideal mother, and that's what it took to be ideal at the time was to have blond hair and blue eyes. But what was even more interesting was that the third grade drawings were of myself with blond hair. So, after a few years I didn't settle for just my mom but I wanted to make, idealize myself, too, by giving myself blond hair and blue eyes.

Date: March 18 & 20, 2003
Location: Washington, US
Interviewer: Alice Ito and Mayumi Tsutakawa
Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.


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