California Educator

November / December 2016

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You've said that Allegiance was a chance to apologize to your father for accusing him of not protecting your family from internment. Does this image of a parent being pow- erless to prevent harm to loved ones resonate today? One day, I challenged my father with questions about why we just went to camp without putting up a fight, accusing him of leading us like sheep to be slaughtered. At those words, which I came to deeply regret, he simply said, "Maybe you're right," before withdrawing to his room and shutting the door. I have regretted those words all of my life. So Allegiance is part of my atonement for them. My teenage accusation of my father 's compliance with the internment is not to say there were not those coura- geous few who actively challenged it. Names of brave and principled men such as Minoru Yasui, Fred Korematsu and Gordon Hirabayashi remind us that there were those who stood up on American principles and fought the unconstitu- tional imprisonment. My heart goes out to all the parents who are fearful that they also might not be able to protect their children, whether they are undocu- mented immigrants who have been political scapegoats this election or trans individuals about whom the most pernicious stereotypes have been spread, again for purely political reasons. They must at once acknowledge the threat posed to them and their families, while trying to calm and comfort those most directly affected by them. It is not an easy role to take on. What is your message to people about LGBTQ+ rights and Asian American portrayals (or lack thereof ) in the media? Representation matters. When we are underrepresented, our stories and our lives are portrayed inauthentically, often for laughs or as inci- dental to more important ones. Allegiance was the first time an Asian American story was being told on the Broadway stage that had been written and directed by Asian Americans. Think about that. It was 2015, and that was the first time. When we're able to tell our true stories, especially in important venues such as Broadway or on film, we become that much more part of the social tapestry. Our communities are less overlooked and more included. This has enormous implications for our culture, our legal system, and the well-being of our communities. Had LGBTQs been as represented and heard in the 1980s as they are today, would the AIDS epidemic have taken so many? Had Jap- anese-Americans, like other ethnic groups at the time such as the Italians and Germans, been seen not as "others" but as "us," would something like the internment have happened? Certainly, the chances would be less. Art has not only an ability but a duty to ask difficult questions, to inspire thought and action, and to compel a brighter tomorrow. One Night Only: Pledge to see Allegiance George Takei's Allegiance: The Broadway Musical on the Big Screen will show in thea- ters across the country on the night of Dec. 13, presented by Fathom Events. Performers include Takei, Lea Salonga and Telly Leung (above with Katie Rose Clarke). The fictional story follows the Kimura family as they are relocated to an internment camp in rural Wyoming following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in World War II. Sam Kimura and his sister Kei take opposing actions in response to the unconstitutional imprisonment: To prove the "loyalty " of his people, Sam enlists in the army and fights for his country; Kei helps lead a resistance movement against the injustice of incarceration. These deep divisions affect the family and others for decades. See the trailer at An Educator Resource Guide (both full-length and abbreviated) is available for classroom use, including activities to be done before and after seeing Allegiance. Central questions revolve around the ideas of loyalty and identity. To access the guide, see "I believe that we can improve our world one student at a time," Takei says in the guide's introduction. He urges educators to use it with students and share it with colleagues. 15 November / December 2016 "MY HEART GOES OUT TO PARENTS FEARFUL THEY MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN." — GEORGE TAKEI

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