Thursday, January 22, 2004

Bad Xanga! Bad, Bad Xanga!

Is it just me, or is Xanga having a tantrum with you as well. On more than just a few occasions, I have written comments on other sites and clicked the submit button only to see my comment evaporate into virtual space. What the freakin-A is going on here? I've been anally copying the comments and then submitting just in case it disappears again. Although I have observed that if I click the "If comment box is not working, click here" button, I have yet to lose anything...

All Japanese School

Yesterday, I mentioned I went to an all Japanese school. ddsb2000 commented: "I didn't know they had all japanese schools in america." Well, they don't anymore, but they used to. I went to an elementary school called Maryknoll in Los Angeles. They stipulated--if I remember correctly--that a child had to be at least one-quarter Japanese to be eligible for admission. I don't remember if there was any specific law passed, but sometime in the 80s it became clear that the school could no longer discriminate based on race and they began accepting all races. As a Catholic Mission, Maryknoll attracted hispanics from nearby areas, but as the enrollment of non-Japanese went up, the number of Japanese American families went down. In the end, it closed its doors as an elementary school in the late mid 90s due to lack of enrollment. It continues today as a community center, the Maryknoll Japanese Catholic Center.

From what I can tell, the general consensus could be summarized as: "If our kids are going to a mixed school, they may as well go to public school; it's closer and free." It sound like a rational, economically sound arguement, but I have heard the whispers of some who did not like the idea that Maryknoll was desegragating. Some JAs took the pride thing too far, or they adopted some of the uglier aspects of Japanese culture.

Not that Japanese culture is all bad... But there is a distinct attitude of Japanese uniqueness that reverberates in Japan even now.

In any event, Maryknoll was a segregated school. It sounds awful now, but before you place judgement, let me tell you that it was also a blessing of sorts for Japanese in the beginning. It was established in the early 20th century when racism and the "yellow peril" mentality was still a part of mainstream society. It provided a place where Japanese nationals in America could worship in peace in a language they understood and study without fear of prejudice. The Catholic mission is located about three blocks from LA's J-Town, and unlike the current Lil' Tokyo, J-Town back then was a place where many of the Japanese community lived. There were a few houses, but most rented long-term hotel rooms--many are still there above the stores and restaurants on the north side of 1st Street across from JVP and Koyasan Temple. (My dad used to live there as well.) The kids could then walk to Maryknoll for their education. During my time, the school was still a source of community. I was born ten years after WWII, a couple of years after the Korean War and was a student there for nine years (kindergarten to 8th grade) during the Vietnam War. On the street, away from Maryknoll/J-Town, I was called a Jap, a Chink, and a Gook. Maryknoll provided me with a place I could study and play without fear of random and malicious harrassment, and sometimes violence--I have been beaten up for being "Japanese". While I wouldn't go so far as to claim that Maryknoll empowered me, it did allow me to grow without restraint and, in a way, innocently. Unfortunately, it also cultivated that attitude of being special to the detriment of others; by segregating others, we ultimately segregated ourselves.

When you were growing up, did you have the opportunity to congregate with those that share your heritage?

No comments: