Here at Facing History, we see awareness months as opportunities to deepen our knowledge of and attention to the histories and contemporary experiences of historically marginalized communities. However, the focus on celebrating these communities over one particular month can further marginalize the very experiences we are hoping to elevate. With this in mind, what follows is an invitation to engage with important themes raised by Asian / Pacific American Heritage Month this May and throughout all of the months of the year.
Though Asian and Pacific Islander American (AAPI) people have faced racist violence in the United States for centuries, the endurance of this racism has become more visible in recent years as an uptick in violence targeting AAPI peoples entered the national consciousness. This virulent racism and the structures that allow it to persist demand response, and education is one of our most powerful tools for raising consciousness and taking steps toward repair.
For many educators who are eager to begin exploring AAPI history and contemporary experiences with students, it can be challenging to know where to start. We invite educators to use the following curricular resources and professional development offerings to begin a journey of reflection, dialogue, and learning in the classroom.
Japanese American Incarceration
Bearing Witness to Japanese American Incarceration (Teaching Idea)
March 21, 1942, marks the date that Congress passed Public Law 503. This legislation authorized the federal courts to enforce President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which sanctioned the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans on the West Coast in internment camps.
This Teaching Idea probes some of the complex issues arising from the history of Japanese incarceration during World War II. While not comprehensive, these resources and activities enable students to explore difficult questions about national identity, institutional racism, and the boundaries of US citizenship.
Teaching Farewell to Manzanar (Unit)
Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old in 1942 when the United States government authorized the forced relocation of all Japanese Americans on the West Coast to internment camps. Teaching Farewell to Manzanar interweaves a literary analysis of Jeanne’s memoir with an exploration of the relevant historical context surrounding her experience.
This guide provides engaging activities, teaching strategies, and recommended media to structure your students' reading of the memoir. Throughout their study, students will return the central questions: How do our confrontations with justice and injustice help to shape our identity? How do those confrontations influence the things we say and do?
Teaching Farewell to Manzanar: A Memoir of Japanese Internment (On-Demand Webinar)
Watch this webinar to explore teaching Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's powerful memoir of her family’s internment at Manzanar Internment Camp in California.
George Takei: Standing Up to Racism Then and Now (On-Demand Webinar)
As part of the Facing History virtual Community Conversation Series, actor and activist George Takei discusses his family’s wrongful incarceration during World War II and how we can all take action against anti-Asian racism on the rise today.
And Then They Came for Us (Documentary)
This history of Japanese American internment during World War II is retold in this documentary from Abby Ginzberg and Ken Schneider. It also follows Japanese American activists today as they speak out against the Muslim registry and travel ban.