Remember—“We too, are America"
February 19, Remembrance Day, was a good day to remember. 忘 is the kanji for “forget”—the top part 亡 is death and the bottom 心 is heart—so to keep our souls we remember. I remember that there are people in this country who think we who come from lands other than Europe are not real Americans. I remember that they locked us up in concentration camps. I remember the looks on their faces of hatred and fear when they told us to go back to China. I can laugh about it now because the idiots didn’t know and didn’t care about the difference between Chinese and Japanese, but it was terrifying then. I remember that some stood with us and others turned their backs.
Remembrance Day is the day the president issued an executive order that mass incarcerated 120,000 of us. 80 years have passed and our communities are horrified and traumatized by the violence against Asian American women. What happened in 1942 is a stark reminder that Asian Americans are vulnerable to being labeled and persecuted as foreigners.
We remember to help us understand the present dangers. These are perilous times demanding that we assert that we belong here as much as anyone. While so much in America infuriates and alienates us, each of us needs to believe and affirm that in the words of poet Langston Hughes, “I too, am America.”