The AACP Newsletter
Since 1970 Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. - Books for All Ages Nov/Dec 2003
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AACP is Proud to Introduce the Following Two Books

Birth of an Activist
The Sox Kitashima Story

By Tsuyako "Sox" Kitashima
and Joy K. Morimoto
Published by AACP
2003, 174 pages, paperback.

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Price $19.95

"Birth of an Activist: The Sox Kitashima Story" by Tsuyako "Sox" Kitashima and Joy K. Morimoto is the autobiography of a California-born, Japanese American woman who was one of the leaders of the redress and reparations campaign for Japanese Americans wrongfully imprisoned during World War II.

This book tells the very human story of "Sox" Kitashima, whose life was caught up in extraordinary national and international events and how she became an activist as a result. The beginning of the book offers a fascinating glimpse into what life was like in the 1930s in what is now Fremont, California. Far from being part of the high-tech urban center it is today the area was rural and agricultural where the main forms of entertainment were the radio, baseball and other sports, movies in Oakland or San Jose, or local dances.

"Sox" received her lifetime nickname at this time because few of her non-Japanese American teachers and peers could pronounce her given name of Tsuyako. Interestingly enough, the schools in this farming community were completely integrated with Asians, whites, and blacks sharing the same classrooms.

The center part of this book is the experience of internment during World War II and the aftermath. One of the problems of memorializing the internment is that so many of those adults who experienced it have already passed away leaving the experience to be described by those who were children at the time. Sox is one of the surviving young adults of the time who had a clear eyed understanding of what was happening without the warm glow of childhood to soften the experience. She remembers the humiliation, the suffering, and the suicides that the Japanese American community experienced as the result of losing their property, homes, jobs, and identities when they became government issued numbers in the camps. Above all they had the shock of being treated in such a fashion by what they had been taught was the best and most enlightened democracy in the world.

One area that is rarely explored in history is the post-camp experience of Japanese Americans. Apparently it wasn't easy for many of these displaced persons to return to a normal life after the war. The US government gave each released internee $25 to begin their lives again as they left the camps. As a result of this further injustice, many of the former internees were initially forced to live in charity shelters and churches in overcrowded conditions that were in many cases worse than they had lived in during the war years. They also had to face the continuing hostility of many communities who failed to distinguish between Japanese and Japanese Americans.

Sox joined the redress movement in 1980 inspired by the passion and convictions of the Sansei or third generation of Japanese Americans. These young activists along with some members of the Nisei or second generation of Japanese Americans waged a long lobbying campaign in the United State Congress for an official apology and monetary compensation towards the internees. Sox came to know many politicians in Washington DC personally in her quest to enlist them in the redress cause. For much of this time most people, even those within the Japanese American community remained firmly convinced that nothing would ever come from the effort and that the US Government would never apologize for its actions. Even the activists were surprised when their oftentimes amateur lobbying efforts culminated in the successful passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Former surviving internees were to be paid $20,000 each and receive a formal written apology from the United States Government. In many cases, the apology was more valued than what was by then a very token compensation in relation to the property already lost and the humiliation already experienced. Moreover, many internees were no longer eligible since they'd already died before the law came into existence. This group of people included Sox's mother and two brothers.

Sox volunteered with the government's Office of Redress Administration to educate the Japanese American community about their rights and their eligibility to apply for redress soon after the passage of this law. She tells of her many different triumphs and tragedies in finding these people, in some cases living very neglected and lonely lives in forgotten apartments, veteran's homes, and even prisons. She also describes her continuing battles with Congress and the rest of the US Government to insure adequate funding for redress and the battles to include those determined as ineligible in the 1988 law. Among the excluded were children born to mothers temporarily on leave from the internment camps who were visiting their husbands serving in the US military, and were subsequently returned to the camps. Also, there were citizens of Japanese descent living in Latin America, who were arrested by the FBI, and interned as exchangeable hostages in the United States. Officially these internees were held as "illegal immigrants" to the US despite the fact that it was the US Government that had brought them here.

Above all, this book emphasizes the fact that people need to be educated about what this period of internment means to our history as Americans. It also emphasizes the fact that people must stand up for their rights. Sox's story shows that even short, feisty grandmothers can carry out this fight for rights and the task of educating people about them.
Review by Philip Chin

Up Coming Events

Here are some events that AACP will soon be attending.
Invite us to your events.
Dec. 5-6 Foundation For CA Early Literacy Learning:
Reno Literacy Conference
Reno Hilton
Reno, NV
Dec. 9 UC Santa Cruz Multicultural Book Fair UCSC University Center
Santa Cruz, CA

Give Us Your Feedback

Please feel free to send us your reviews, comments, and book suggestions. You can contact us at -

Building a Community
The Story of the Japanese Americans In San Mateo County

By Gayle K. Yamada
and Dianne Fukami
Edited by Dianne Yen-Mei Wong
Published by AACP
2003, 189 pages, hardback.

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Price $35.00

Although the stories told in this book may seem specific to the Japanese American community of San Mateo County, California, the beginning of the book can be seen as a microcosm of many other ethnic communities in the United States. Midway through the book, the stories of the San Mateo Japanese American community take a major divergence away from the average American community - this being the uprooting and forced incarceration of its people to internment camps during World War II.

Building a Community reads like a family scrapbook, but at the same time it tells compelling stories of how a community starts, is suddenly moved a thousand miles away, then finds ways to endure the Topaz Internment Camp, and ultimately perseveres after returning to San Mateo County.

Judging by the well-attended book-signing gala held in San Mateo, it is very heartening to know that the community is alive and well. We hope you'll enjoy learning about the Japanese American community of San Mateo and feel encouraged to start a search into your own community's history.
Review by Leonard Chan

Year-End Report

By the end of this year, AACP will have gone to over 24 conferences, conventions, festivals, and various other educational and cultural events. In these hard economic times, AACP is still completing the outreach part of our mission of bringing marvelous Asian American materials to educators and the public. As always, it's wonderful to meet you at these events.

Intern Program
This year our intern program grew rapidly. We had nine extraordinary individuals that contributed to the development of this years Asian American calendar project and laid the foundation for many more projects that we hope to fulfill in the coming year. Their energy and ideas were a real shot in the arm for us. Thank you Alice, Dayle, Lizelle, Lydia, Melissa, Michael, Shirley, Steven, and Vivian. We hope you found the experience of value and hope you enjoyed working with us as much as we enjoyed working with you.

2003 was a productive year for AACP. We actively participated in the development and publishing of one book and published two others. Plus we were able to develop our Asian American calendar for the second year in a row. (See Below)

AACP was successful in winning two grants this year. We were awarded a grant by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (CCLPEP) to create a descriptive catalog of all the projects produced by the program. Most recently Union Bank of California awarded us a grant to partially fund our intern program and the projects that were developed by it. Thank you so much to these two organizations.

What's Up For Next Year
Outreach will be more expensive than this year. Several of the events that we would like to go to are either out of state or not local. Just to name a few, the Association for Asian American Studies is in Boston this coming year, the California Council for Social Studies in Southern California, and the JACL convention is in Hawaii. At this point, we are far short of having enough funds to go to all three of these events.

One of the most intriguing projects the interns were working on this past summer was an Asian American book awards and conference event. With hard work, more funds, and the dedicated help of our volunteers and interns, we hope to see this project come to light.

Next year we hope to continue our book-publishing efforts. We have at least two more book projects in the works and hope to have many more. If you have a book project and would like us to help, please let us know. We would be glad to discuss it with you.

Last but not least, we will continue to add and make improvements to our website and newsletter.

Editor's Message

Please Help
Book sales account for a little more than half of our income. The rest comes from generous donors and grants. At this time, I'm sure you're being heavily solicited by many worthy non-profit organizations. In these tough economic times, many of the larger non-profit organizations still have the resources to find the dwindling funds that remain available. Smaller organizations like AACP on the other hand are finding it much tougher. Please, if you can, keep our organization in mind when you make your year end donations.

As always, we very much welcome your non-monetary support as well. We have many store functions, outreach activities, and projects where we could use your help. In fact, we eagerly invite anyone with educational/sales background to join our staff. We are looking for a dedicated person to spearhead our outreach efforts. Other ways for you to help - keep reading, keep looking for events for us to go to, and keep giving us your feedback.

Many Thanks
To Philip Chin, thank you so much for your continued hard work. This newsletter, the intern program, and the AACP Calendar would not be possible without your help.

Loyal Readers, thank you very much for your continued support. We wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season and a great New Year!

Leonard Chan
Senior Editor

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Do as We Say Not as We Do
Comments on the Recent George W. Bush Democracy Speech
An editorial by Leonard Chan
Democracy, what is it? President Bush in his recent Democracy Speech seemed to play loose and free with the meaning of the words democracy, freedom, and liberty. A listener of the speech may get the impression that these words were interchangeable. Sadly, they are not. Democracy, freedom, and liberty are all part of our basic human rights, but having the right to practice democracy does not guarantee that the rest of our human rights are automatically protected.

After hearing some pundits commend President Bush for making such a great speech, I was left stupefied. Am I the only one that finds this speech to be hypocritical? How can we presume to lecture the world about the meaning of these words when the American democratic system and our record on the protection of human rights appear far less than perfect?

The United States presidential election of 2000 was hardly a good model for how a democratic state should hold elections. Beside the pre-election irregularities in Florida and the Bush legal team's vigorous fight in the court system to keep the Florida ballots from being recounted, the antiquated American Electoral College system kept the person with the most votes from winning the election.

As far as protecting human rights, President Bush has implemented measures that reduce our freedoms and civil liberties in ways that have not been seen since World War II. Bush's policies and the Patriot Act have resulted in the lock up a large number of individuals, which has even brought many comparisons to the Japanese American Internment during World War II.

President Bush was not the first US president to struggle with human rights issues. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt, to name just a few, all struggled with issues of freedom and liberty too. American history is full of contradictions. Even in a democratic state such as ours, there have been many times when human rights have been trampled on. Here's a short list of transgressions.

  1. Slavery of African Americans
    • Two recent books describe the struggles faced by Washington and Jefferson over the issues of slavery.
    An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America
    by Henry Wiencek
    "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power
    by Garry Wills
    • Believe it or not, there are still cases of slavery in the United States today. Some estimates place the number of slaves in the United States in the 100,000 and more range.
  2. Jim Crow Laws that severely limited the human rights of African Americans long after emancipation
  3. The mistreatment of Native Americans
    • The dispossession of their land and property
    • The destruction of their food sources and habitat
    • The spreading of disease among them
    • Actual cases of the mass murder of Native Americans
    • Forced relocations
    • Separation of children from their families and the attempts to destroy their culture
  4. Women not having the right to vote nationally for over a hundred years
  5. The imprisonment of people without public trials
    • Lincoln's suspension of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War
    • Roosevelt's executive order 9066 that interned Japanese American during WWII
    • Others non-Japanese Americans imprisonment cases during WWI and WWII
    • Current cases of imprisonment of suspected terrorists
  6. Bill of Rights First Amendment Attacks
    • John Adams' Alien and Sedition Acts
    • Woodrow Wilson's Palmer Raids
    • House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and McCarthyism
There is nothing wrong in President Bush's call for more democracy, freedom, and liberty for the people of the world. However, we should realize that the United States did not come to it current state of democracy and freedom without much struggle and hardships. Democracy in America and the protection of our human rights are a work in progress. We must continue to work hard to make sure our own house is in order. Only then can we speak authoritatively on these issues and be respected by the peoples of the world.

More Information

President Bush's Democracy Speech
BBC's abridged version
Full version from the White House

Democracy and Voting
Whose Vote Counts? - American Radio Works program on some problems with the Americam voting system

Sites on Civil Liberty Issues
Freedom and Security - former VP Gore's speech on the Patriot Act
Democracy in Danger? - PBS program NOW's page on Civil Liberties issues; includes debates on security versus civil liberties, historical timeline on civil liberties, a lesson plan for for high school students, and quizes on freedom of speech and religion
Who's next? - Civil rights lawyer David Cole says repressive laws targeting immigrants also threaten U.S. citizens
ENEMY ALIENS: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism by David Cole
Jim Crow History Resources

Sites on Slavery
Involuntary Servitude in the "Land of the Free"
A Secret Slave Trade Survives in US - Boston Globe article - website on world slavery issues
An Imperfect God by Henry Wiencek
Negro President by Garry Wills

Women Suffrage
History of Women's Suffrage

Native American History
Native American History - by


The following books are discounted for subscribers to our newsletter. The discounts on these books end Dec. 31, 2003.

Asian Americans 2004 Calendar

2003-2004, 26 page calendar.

Asian Americans 2004 Calendar is an update of our Asian American Celebrate 2003! calendar. We've included the dates and descriptions for over __ Asian American celebration and festival dates. Festivals and celebrations are an important part of Asian culture and history. This calendar is a wonderful introduction to many of the most celebrated events of the year. You teachers out there may especially find the calendar useful.

Also note that your purchase of this calendar counts as a donation to AACP and supports our intern program. So please be generous and buy as many as you can for yourself, your friends and family, and your work place. Thank you.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #13193, Price $10.00

A Re-introduction
Special Sale Item


By Jack Matsuoka
Edited by Emi Young
Published by AACP
2003, 168 pages, paperback.

Cartoonist Jack Matsuoka retells, in drawings, his experiences of life in an internment camp at Poston, Arizona during World War II. This is an informal introduction, for young and old, of a difficult period in American history.

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ORDER -- Item #3093, Price $16.95

The Seven Chinese Sisters

By Kathy Tucker
Illustrated by Grace Lin
2003, 29 pages, hardback.

When a dragon snatches the youngest of seven talented Chinese sisters, the other six come to her rescue. This is a delightful update to a classic Chinese folktale.

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ORDER -- Item #3192, Price $15.95

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