A Personal Project

Tule Lake [see previous two articles] is a personal project for the members of the United to End Racism team. All of us have family members who were incarcerated—parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins. Participating in the pilgrimage is about healing ourselves, our families, our community—and fighting for the healing and liberation of all people. 

Betsy Hasegawa wrote the following to the team about her uncle.

Keith Osajima

Redlands, California, USA


My uncle Osamu passed [died] recently. He was the last of my father’s brothers and was a No-No Boy and Hoshi-dan at Tule Lake. Coming to Tule Lake and telling his stories, having people cheer for him as a No-No and renunciant, was a huge contradiction to so many of the ways he felt bad or apologetic about himself.

My uncle changed after starting to come to Tule Lake. He became much more vocal with his stories, telling them to our family and especially to his grandchildren. He always brought his photo albums with him to family events, often crying unapologetically as he spoke.

He also told stories at his Buddhist church and became very “out” [visible] as a No-No. Others came to him to tell their stories, too, and young people often interviewed him for their papers.

I could see that he felt much better about himself and had grown to see himself as a resource about World War II and the effects of war on our people. We helped him to find these parts of himself, and that made the last part of his life much more meaningful for him.

I know that calling elders to make contact before the pilgrimage can kick up [bring up] feelings of duty and obligation, but please do know that the difference we are making has ripple effects through generations—healing the elders, their families, and all of our surrounding communities.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for doing this! It is such an honor to be doing it with all of you and to be our fully Japanese-heritage selves as we do it. We are deeply good people—each and every one of us—and we are changing the world, one phone call to elders at a time.

Betsy Hasegawa

Bellingham, Washington, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion lists for RC Community members, for leaders of wide world change, and for RC Community members involved in eliminating racism

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

1 In 1943 the U.S. government issued a questionnaire to the interned men who were over age seventeen. Question 27 was “Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?” Question 28 was “Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?” Some men answered no to both questions. One reason was they believed that forswearing allegiance implied that they had previously had allegiance. These men were often referred to as “No-No-Boys.” The Japanese American Citizens League condemned them, criticizing their character and saying it was they who were making Japanese Americans look bad. Not only were these men forced into horrible conditions and stripped of their property, they were also denounced for resisting. The Hoshi-dan was a pro-Japan faction in the camp that resisted and harassed the camp administration.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00