The importance of Japanese American role models in childhood community

Transcripts available in the following languages:

Gardena was about, I think, a third Japanese American when I was growing up, so when I was growing up I, it was very comfortable. I mean, there were many people around me who looked the same as I did, who spoke the same broken Japanese as I did, who ate the same foods I did, and on top of that, there were a number of community leaders who were Japanese American. We had a Japanese American mayor and city councilman, and Japanese American banks. There were a number of Japanese American churches. There was the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Buddhist Church. So we had a lot of role models and leaders.

I realize now how exceptional that was for me to be able to grow up with really strong, great Japanese American role models because it really made me feel like there were few things that I couldn't do. I mean I could grow up and be mayor, I suppose. And, and growing up and believing that you could be a banker or believing that you could be mayor certainly makes you grow up thinking that, well, maybe I could even be more than that. And, I suppose that was something really important to me and my siblings [was] being able to grow up without feeling automatically outcast or marginalized because we were surrounded by a community that supported us with good, good role models, which is a good thing.

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

community community organizations identity role model

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