George Takei was 5 years old when he and his family were "relocated" to internment camps. He shared his memories of growing up in the camps with NPR.
Having grown up with stories of my own family in the camps, hearing him talk about his own parent's reluctance and shame to talk about the experience is familiar and hits a wound close to home. None the less, I think it's very important that these stories survive and are told.
Takei is a very noteworthy Asian American actor, and I find myself reflecting on the media portrayal of Asians a lot. When I listen to this, I have to say that Takei's role on Star Trek is far more bold than I had thought. He spoke without an accent, and was an executive member of the crew who was trusted to make many decisions. His character was one that had a variety of intellectual interests, and was very gregarious.
In many ways, I feel we may have less to show for the Asian community in modern media. I can think of few male characters who exist outside of violent action roles, or are put in the background of a lab scene. Few men are ever shown in interracial couples. For women, it's the hyper fetishistic roles that get screen time.
I often wonder if the "model minority" cultural acclimation of Asians is largely due to a generation having to humiliate themselves to prove their worth, identity, and status as citizens. My father doesn't sspeak a single word of Japanese. My grandparents didn't want him to stand out and be bullied any more than would already be. That's a cultural loss, and for little. My father would still be bullied every year on Dec 6th. He told me about how after the war, on a road trip, my Grandfather was arrested in every town they stopped for gas in. Two generations beat into submission, and then called the "model minority."
It makes me sick.