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Uproar after Japanese-American book blocked from being read in Muskego class

WWII   North America   United States Defense  Aliens Japanese  Internment  Camps
WWII US Internment Camps 1942
Posted at 2:48 PM, Jul 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-18 23:42:17-04

MUSKEGO -- To Two America's, where we show you a side of American history some of you may know, and others might not be familiar with.

We are talking about what happened in Japanese-American Internment Camps during World War II. The idea to have Muskego High School students read this book, which delves into this history, was quickly shelved. Now, Muskego-Norway School District leaders are dealing with uproar.

It is after one school curriculum committee member reported offensive words she believes her peers made when considering the book to the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Coalition of Wisconsin.

"What she relayed onto us is the comments were this is a book that is too diverse, said it was too sad. It does not have a balanced point of view," said Ron Kuramoto, AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin. "Asian American history is American history. It's part of what weaves the fabric of the country."

WWII   North America   United States Defense  Aliens Japanese  Internment  Camps
A policeman frisks one of the Japanese arrested in round up which followed Japan’s declaration of war on the U.S Norfolk, Va., Dec. 7, 1941 police and sailors guarded them in the police lecture room. (AP Photo)

At the center of it all is the novel called "When the Emperor Was Divine" by Julie Otsuka. It is based on true historical events in the 1940s. 120,000 people of Japanese descent were sent to U.S. internment camps.

WWII US Internment Camps 1942
Beginning the nation's greatest forced migration, these Japanese boarded buses in Los Angeles for Owens Valley, 235 miles north of L.A., where the government's first alien reception center is under construction, March 21, 1942. Nearly 100 Japanese who left on March 21 were skilled workers who will help prepare the camp for thousands to follow. (AP Photo/Dick Strobel)

Muskego-Norway School Superintendent Kelly Thompson sent us a statement, which acknowledges that concerns were raised over why the book was blocked by a sub-committee and not brought to the full school board for consideration. She says staff will now, "start the process over to ensure a fair and non-discriminatory process be used to select a book for this class." However, we were not told when that will happen.

Kuramoto and other leaders with the AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin believe more discussion could happen. AAPI leaders set up their own meeting on Monday at 6:30 p.m. to talk about this history.

"Move[d] them out of an area solely for not what they did but because of what they looked like but on the basis of race," said Kuramoto who believes this history should never be forgotten. "It's really depriving a whole generation of a quality educational experience."

This 1942 photo shows the evacuation of American-born Japanese civilians during World War II, as they leave their homes for internment, in Los Angeles, California. The sidewalks are piled high with indispensable personal possessions, cars and buses are waiting to transport the evacuees to the war relocation camps. (AP Photo)

A Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction spokesperson tells us there is no statewide policy when it comes to districts selecting books for any subject. It is all up to individual school boards.

The Muskego Teach-In happened Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. To read more on that meeting, check out Bruce Harrison's report here.

Muskego Teach-In.jpeg

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