75 Years Later: Allegiance and Executive Order 9066

Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion. – Excerpt from Executive Order 9066. Signed February 19, 1942 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

When I was in graduate school I was assigned Only What We Could Carry for a course on visual and material culture. This text used objects, poetry, photography, and art to reveal the wide ranging experiences of Japanese Americans (and permanent residents) that were forced, seventy-five years ago, from their homes into internment camps.

Members of the Mochida FAmily awaiting evacuation. | National Archives
Members of the Mochida Family awaiting evacuation. | Dorothea Lange via/ National Archives
One of the first artifacts photographed is an evacuation tag. At first glance looks like a label you would place on an inanimate object with basic reference information. For the evacuees forced to leave their homes, this tag removed identities paring individuals down to a name, family number, and a time and a place to report.
Continue reading “75 Years Later: Allegiance and Executive Order 9066”

Twenty-Seventeen

20170114_172305
A quotation from the walls of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I am
afraid. Folded in by the weight
of postcards and calls
links and 140 characters.
Always thinking about the invisible scales of equality  
between the unborn, the refugee, the immigrant, and those not living in privilege.

I am
certain that I have fingers
toes, a heart with blood pumping
slowly through my veins
as do you,
and them,
and us, but those that lead find
different ways to say
You Don’t Belong.

I question
my ability
my strength for this
test.
Yet I know that one cannot expect miracles
And God cannot do all the work

And so

Although I am afraid, I am certain. Although I question, I am ready.
I can be brave. I must be brave. I will be brave.


20160407_195608
Pulitzer Prize winning author Anthony Doerr put up this panel during his talk for the Arlington County Library. I wrote about that talk here.

Whenever I begin writing my annual New Year’s post I take a look at what I wrote the year before. Here is what I said in January 2016:

Continue reading “Twenty-Seventeen”

Rituals: Vote 2016

Dear America

I am standing in line to vote. It is the longest voting line I have ever waited in and admittedly not the longest citizens will wait today. It is winding, not unlike our first political cartoon that shows a fragmented snake, (1754, Pennsylvania  Gazette) split into seperate colonies. Below the image a proclamation from Benjamin Franklin “Join, or die.”

At the time this was a call for unity. A call for a fragmented people to come together. Today, that snake looks awfully familiar. For the last year I have had it coiled within me, an invisible knot in my chest, twinging when I thought about today. 

Continue reading “Rituals: Vote 2016”

Talking Honestly About the Past

It’s been over a week and I’m still thinking about the Slate Academy symposium “How Do We Get Americans to Talk Honestly about Slavery.” Why? It’s not just because the subject matter resonates with a lot of current events on race and class. It’s not just because the panel mimicked how I think about public history i.e. through a broader lens of objects, oral histories, literature, and popular culture. Rather, it is because the conversation presented to us represents a lesson on how to talk honestly about the entire past, period.

A culmination of a podcasting series for Slate Academy the live symposium brought together experiential historians, museum professionals, divers, authors, critics, and a pop culture icon to investigate the process of myth-making surrounding slavery. The strength of the symposium lay in participants ability to delve beneath the surface of history to identify ways to encourage a dialogue in the face of resistance. To investigate, as culinary historian Michael Twitty says, how “slavery is not a blip, but a chronic condition.”
Continue reading “Talking Honestly About the Past”

Change is Gonna Come

Oh my, my, my. What a difference a day makes.

Reverend Pinckney once said, “Across the south, we have a deep appreciation of history. We haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.”

Rainbows in New York City. #LoveWins (Instagram Filter) | Credit: Priya Chhaya
  

Twenty-four hours ago while, on a bus to New York City, I wrote a blog post which I probably will never share beyond my family. Incredibly pessimistic, the post reflected on heritage, hate, and deflection born out of frustration and my own anger at another tragic series of deaths.

Then today happened. Not only did we see that #lovewins, but we heard President Obama, in his eulogy to Reverend Pinckney, proclaim:

Continue reading “Change is Gonna Come”

2015. Another Year. Another Resolution.

At the start of 2014. I sought to be more productive, to experiment more, and resolved for a year of joy.

So how successful was I? It’s hard to say. In terms of productivity I’ve been living in a year of distraction. I took a trip to India in the summer which was followed by a few days with my sister in Portugal. I went to Cabo for a bachelorette and then to Monterey (CA) and Savannah (GA) for conferences. September brought with it my sister’s wedding which, after a year of planning, was filled with a relative amount of stress, laughter, and a new family member. I tried to write, but got hit with writer’s block for months, but at the same time made progress on some other long term projects I hope to share at a later time.

Nothing says Williamsburg more than #snotogo #wmhomecoming

A post shared by Priya (@priyastoric) on

Continue reading “2015. Another Year. Another Resolution.”

One Step: From 2013 to 2014

Optimism. Focus. Growth. Three ways to approach 2013. Three tools to infuse the way I tell stories, both beyond and of the past. Three ways to embrace the future.

New Year resolutions are tough. As goals for the next 2-300 or so days they are choices of self-determination. Dictates on change. Guidelines for choices you want to make in the year to come.

They are often lofty and almost always fall to the wayside before February.

Last year instead of resolving I sought to qualify. I chose three words that would be a touch point for how I manage inevitable change and tell my stories. Three ways to accept the unpredictable and embrace it.

In this I have been mostly successful. 2013 was a year of personal change which often pulled me away from writing. My focus was directed towards family matters and I made the conscious choice to look for personal growth offline (though it seems my use of Twitter is perhaps on an uptick).

In the last year I’ve written 13 posts here on …this is what comes next. A few were cross-posts from either Fangirl or the Indian American Story. Others included links to reflections on the PreservationNation blog.  Collectively these posts (which are listed below) mark my love with learning through place (this year I traveled to Boston and Paris) and finding ways to teach my new niece an appreciation for the past. Some of my favorites? This interview with a Kristina Downs on Native American Heroines (originally on Fangirl blog), my look at Cloud Atlas, and a two-part post on returning to historical places and the resonance they bring on PreservationNation.

Continue reading “One Step: From 2013 to 2014”

Stand Up, Speak Up, Speak Out and…Get in the Way

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. -Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (August 28, 1963).

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. I’d like to say that I spent my day at the edge of my seat watching the news coverage and the live streaming…but I didn’t. I spent most of my day watching my three week old niece cry, sleep and overall just be adorable.

While the television wasn’t on I did follow my Twitter feed, read reactions on Facebook, and read transcripts of the speeches by Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama. This morning I listened to the short remarks by the only still living speaker from that day in 1963: Representative John Lewis.

Continue reading “Stand Up, Speak Up, Speak Out and…Get in the Way”

Thinking About the Future: The Voting Rights Act of 1965

writingLet’s kick this conversation off with a little bit of background:

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, a case challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). This section requires certain states and localities with a history of discrimination to submit changes to election practices to a judicial authority before it can go into effect.

While the act as a whole enforces the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, this particular section was meant to prevent the poll taxes, literacy tests, and other Jim Crow tactics that infringed on the rights of African-American citizens to vote.

What’s the overarching argument about the case? In the years since the law’s enactment, and particularly with the election of Barack Obama, this provision is no longer necessary. [Read Supreme Court Case Explained or this response from Representative John Lewis]

Continue reading “Thinking About the Future: The Voting Rights Act of 1965”

1/21/13: A Conscious Reflection

At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it.”

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words; with hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come; let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States First Inaugural Address

Four years ago I stood, toes frozen to the ground, fingers numb, listening to the last phrase of President Obama’s first inaugural address as it rang through the crowd. It had already been a long day—waking at 4 am and walking from National’s ballpark to a spot right opposite the Smithsonian Castle—but I could feel the excitement, the pulse of the crowd, the mood of the masses. After all, most, if not all, had come to witness, to be a part of a moment in time when our county crossed a barrier that we weren’t sure we would ever cross.

This year I got up a little later, with better shoes, and once again made my way down to the National Mall. Once again I found myself next to the Smithsonian Castle. Once again we took pictures, waved flags, and listened as the words boomed through the hundreds of thousands of people who had come to once again bear witness…. Continue reading “1/21/13: A Conscious Reflection”