The N-Word and the Japanese American Press


In the wide world of American racial epithets, one word seems to stand apart as uniquely hateful and wounding: the term euphemized as the “N-word.” Applied to African Americans, it is a corruption of the term Negro—a term that has gone through its own complex history. Like the Nazi swastika, …

The Other Side of Doho: Kikue Ukai, Groundbreaking Deaf Writer and Editor


In my previous article on Shuji Fujii, I highlighted his work as a writer, editor, and labor activist. Although Fujii ran the radical Japanese community newspaper Doho for most of its existence, he could not have done so without the help of his wife, Kikue. A gifted writer and literary …

Shuji Fujii and the Hidden Lives of Japanese American Communists


One of the more understudied topics in Japanese American political history is the presence of communists among Nisei intellectuals. Indeed, the late Asian American scholar and activist Yuji Ichioka called upon scholars to examine the complex network of Japanese American leftists among the immigrant communities. As with Robin Kelley’s book …

The Karma of Nations: the story of Rinban Kyoshiro Tokunaga


The Sisters of Maryknoll and Manzanar


As I have noted in my previous articles on the work of Fathers Leopold Tibesar and Hugh Lavery, a number of Maryknoll clergy played important roles in support of Japanese American communities in West Coast cities. Although priests like Lavery and Tibesar are remembered for their leadership during the incarceration, less …

Japanese Culture and Catholic Faith: Maryknoll's Long History in Little Tokyo


April 4, 2021 was Easter Sunday. While Easter celebrations in Little Tokyo do not hold the same importance as community festivities like Nisei Week, the celebration of Christian holidays (and even St. Patrick’s Day) at the St. Francis Xavier Chapel Japanese Catholic Center in Little Tokyo is a tradition that …

Father Hugh Lavery and the Ten Thousand Mile Parish


In a previous article I co-wrote with historian Greg Robinson, I highlighted the life work of Maryknoll Brother Theophane Walsh. Like a number of Maryknoll priests and nuns active in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo community, Brother Theophane spent most of his life working with the Japanese American community, helping to …

Father Leopold Tibesar – The Shepherd of Seattle  


Perhaps some of the best-known defenders of Japanese Americans during World War II were the religious leaders of Seattle. Leaders like Baptist minister Emery Andrews and Buddhist minister Gladys Sunya Pratt supported the Japanese American community in the face of allegations of treason, and worked with the community throughout the …

Kinjiro Matsudaira: Mayor of Edmonston, Maryland


In the pre-World War II years, mainland Japanese Americans were all but absent from electoral office. Whereas in Hawaii there were Nisei representatives in the Territorial Assembly and even a Senator, Sanji Abe, those living elsewhere found endemic anti-Japanese prejudice an effective barrier to even running for elected office, though …

Edmonia White Grant: A Black Woman Standing Up for Japanese Americans


While West Coast anti-Asian racism is well-known as a cause of the forced removal of Japanese Americans during World War II, the complex history of intergroup relations between Japanese Americans and Black Americans during and after World War II still remains rather unexplored.

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