Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been Japanese American?
In the spring of 1942 the federal government imprisoned every person of Japanese ancestry on suspicion of disloyalty. The general who ordered the action said that it was necessary because it was impossible to distinguish a loyal from a disloyal Japanese American.
A year later, the government turned 180 degrees and announced that it could determine the loyalties of Japanese Americans and was going to do so by having the imprisoned people fill out a questionnaire.
This episode of Scapegoat Cities tells the story of how one woman, Mary Manbo (pictured above with her parents and sister), responded to the interrogation.
Mary Manbo's questionnaire and the transcript of her loyalty hearing survive in the National Archives, and this episode is drawn directly from her answers, as well as some additional research into her family's story. If you'd like to know more about the Manbo family's experience of removal and imprisonment, check out my essay "Outside the Frame: Bill Manbo's Color Photographs in Context" in the book "Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II." The book showcases more than sixty of Bill Manbo's beautiful photographs of life behind barbed wire at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center.
Bill Manbo built a little porch in front of his barrack door and marked it with the family name -- or a variation on it. That's Bill on the left.
Photo (c) Takao Bill Manbo.
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Music in this episode: Music in this episode: "Frame of Mind" by Erik Haddad; "Ulyses," "Room with a View," "The Wrong Way," "Chunk of Lawn," and "Where It Goes" by Jazzhar, "Don't Fence Me In" performed by Roy Rogers.