Guest speaker, Video screening

“Voices Behind Barbed Wire” + Dr. Jonathan Y. Okamura

Showing of the 75-minute docudrama Voices Behind Barbed Wire: Stories of Hawai’i followed by discussion with Dr. Okamura

Description of the presentation:
The rise in anti-Asian hate incidents this past year has prompted an important discussion about racism toward the Asian-American population, both in Hawai’i and the Continental United States. During the meeting, we will view the film mentioned above and then listen to a presentation and hold a discussion led by University of Hawai’i Professor Emeritus Jonathan Y. Okamura. This will include various related topics such as the history of anti-Asian racism, including the WWII internment camps, the burden of the model minority myth, the indiscriminate lumping of all Asians into one block, and Asian-American support for other vulnerable ethnic groups such as those who are caged at the US southern border and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dr. Okamura’s biosketch:
Jonathan Y. Okamura is professor emeritus at the University of Hawai’i where he worked for more than thirty years, twenty of which were with the Department of Ethnic Studies. He is the author of several books, including “Ethnicity and Inequity in Hawai’i” and “Raced to Death in 1920s Hawai’i: Injustice and Revenge in the Fukunaga Case.” Professor Okamura continues to serve on the UH Manoa Commission on Racism and Bias and to write and lecture on race and ethnicity in Hawai’i.

Description of the docudrama:
Voices Behind Barbed Wire: Stories of Hawai’i. The film was sponsored by, among others, the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i. It was written and directed by Ryan Kawamoto with David Sato directing photography, including the historical reenactments.

While the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II has been well documented on the U.S. Mainland, new information about the sites and untold stories continue to emerge from Japanese Americans in Hawai’i who endured this dark chapter of history. “Voices Behind Barbed Wire: Stories of Hawai’i” explores the personal stories of Yakuma Hayashi, George Hoshida, Koiichi Iida, Rev. Tadao Kouchi, Dr. Motokazu Mori, Dr. Seiichi Ohata, Kanesaburo Oshima, Matsujiro Otani, Joichi Tahara, Shigeri Terada, and Kyoichi Ueda from the counties of O’ahu, Maui, Kaua’i and Hawai’i Island. The film also takes an archeological journey through the 19 former WWII confinement sites in Hawai’i and the relevance of history upon civil liberties today.