Filed under: The Isms | Tags: asian american studies, colin ehara, colinresponse, dynamic souls, literary ca[n]non, senbei
Read this essay by newly-wed, Richmond-bred, hapa emcee extraordinaire, and Asian American Studies masters student Colin Ehara, aka Senbei, where he breaks down class and the Asian American experience through a personal lens.
Here’s an excerpt:
Famed African-American comedian Chris Rock once stated, “to me, America is like that uncle in your family who paid your way through college…but molested you.” In regards to my family history, I know this statement to be particularly true. Prior to WWII, my Jichan’s family owned a large amount of land in the Napa Valley wine country. After Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan and all people of Japanese ancestry were interned in concentration camps, my grandfather’s family was forced to sell this land at rock-bottom prices. I have been told by my parents on separate occasions that this vineyard in Napa today accrues upwards of about $1,000,000 annually and is owned by a white family. During the war, my Bachan was granted early exit by enrolling in a nursing school, while my Jichan was drafted into the U.S. Army’s military intelligence services as a translator. After the war ended, my Bachan continued her work as a nurse and my Jichan worked freelance as a gardener. When the Civil Liberties Act was signed into law by President George H.W. in 1992, my grandparents were each given $20,000 and a written apology for their internment as surviving internees. The money, while nowhere near what might have been incurred with the land in Napa, was used to 1. take our entire extended family on vacation to Hawaii, and 2. finish the last of their payments on their home in El Cerrito. My grandparents were in essence removed from an upper-class future, placed into a working-class existence due to internment and eventually placed into middle-class status due to reparations from that same incarceration.
Read full essay HERE.
OH, and pick up Senbei and Dynamic Soul’s latest album, Literary Ca[n]non, if you haven’t already (click album cover to preview and purchase):
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