The Japanese American Incarceration Experience: Loyalty and Civil Rights
Objective: Students will examine the experiences and perspectives of incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II.
Special thanks to Mark Ong for sharing his memories and insights into his mother’s life and work.
Jade Snow Wong (1922-2006) was significant not just as a celebrated ceramics and enamels artist but also as one of the first writers on the 20 th -century Chinese American experience. The theme of “working with your hands” resonated throughout her life: she saw her immigrant parents laboring with their hands in their garment factory; she cooked and cleaned as a maid to pay for her college education; she wrote her best-selling memoirs by hand and on the typewriter; she personally handled matters (objects and tours) in her import/export and travel businesses; and, of course, she worked with her hands as a ceramics and enamels artist. This “hands-on” approach in all of her endeavors enabled Wong to create a strong sense of identity that withstood the expectations and judgments she faced as an Asian woman. The acclaim she received for her art and writing led the U.S. State Department to ask her to serve as a cultural ambassador speaking to audiences throughout Asia. Thus, Jade Snow Wong is worth studying not just for her work in the arts, but for the many ways she succeeded in sharing her perspective with the world.
In the lessons below, teachers and students have the opportunity to explore the following: