They Called Us Enemy by George Takai
I had been meaning to read They Called Us Enemy for quite some time now. I was putting it off because I was worried it would make me really sad and upset and angry and all the things everyone should feel when they hear about concentration camps. A book about such atrocities is unlikely to be light.
I should have known that George Takai would, although never sugar coating any of the hardships and tragedies, would find a way to make this memoir incredibly uplifting and hopeful. Takai always puts a smile on my face, in Star Trek, in cameos, through his tweets, anything. And this graphic novel of his is no exception.
He tells the story of his childhood spent in an American internment camp for Japanese immigrants. I don’t know which of you readers out there need to hear this but yes, there were concentration camps in America. Yes, our incredibly corrupted education system has hidden that pretty darn well. Yes, you need to learn about it and teach it to your children.
Books like They Called Us Enemy are certain to be on banned lists from any school board freaking out about Critical Race Theory and opting to “teach all sides” of whether or not the Holocaust occurred. Unfortunately, we live in a time that thinks the truth is subjective and history only happened if you believe in it. What an unbelievable history we are in right now.
This strange timeline we live in has made books like Takai’s mandatory reading. He takes an awful part of history and teaches us about it through personal experience but also with empathy. He never lashes out on those who imprisoned his family or calls for revenge. He just wants it to never happen again. The first step toward that goal is recognizing this history.
Takai has come a long way from the son of immigrants to film star. He speaks for the families of immigrants but is also a very active philanthropist for the LGBTQ community. He is recognized as a strong voice for these groups and appreciated to no end.
They Called Us Enemy humanizes all sides of the institutionalized racism that has been so deeply sewn into the fabric of the American nation. There is no “other” there is no “enemy.” We just need to learn from history and progress further every day.
5/5 salutes 🖖🖖🖖🖖🖖
If you like They Called Us Enemy you might also like How to be an Antiracist
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