School board ignores invite to learn about Japanese Am history

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From National Archives via Wikimedia Creative Commons

By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent

Just weeks after a local school board in Wisconsin banned an award-winning historical novel, a museum is inviting that board to visit its interpretive center to learn more about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“Like many Americans, we have learned about your board’s decision not to buy copies of Julie Otsuka’s 2002 novel, When the Emperor was Devine,” the letter to school board president Christopher Buckmaster of the Muskego-Norway Schools in Muskego, Wisconsin reads from the Heart Mountain Wyoming Association.

Otsuka’s book takes place during the wartime imprisonment of an entire group of people merely because of their race.

As AsAmNews previously reported, the board rejected the book on the grounds that it wanted a more “balanced” perspective about that time in American history.

“This period strikes a chord with us who represent the almost 14,000 Japanese Americans forced from their homes on the West Coast and incarcerated in this corner of Northwestern Wyoming,” Aura Sunada Newlin, president of the foundation wrote in her letter.

The letter invites the board to visit the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center which is dedicated to telling that story.

To date, the board has not responded to the invite originally sent out in late June.

Several groups have urged the school board to reconsider its decision to ban Otsuka’s book, including the Japanese American Citizen’s League.

“The story of what happened to the Japanese American community is an American story, one that balances the challenges of injustice, but also the patriotic stories of service and resistance. If anything, these are stories that need to be told more in our schools,” said David Inoue, executive director of the JACL.

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