<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> Before Pearl Harbor: Taking the Measure of a "Marginal" Man <p> <p> On September 25, 1988, the writing finally stopped. Charlie Kikuchi had put his pen down at last. For forty-seven years, he had opened up a blank journal or slipped out a fresh piece of paper and started recalling that day's odyssey, from mundane to the epic, writing down whatever thoughts came to mind. For the first thirty-four of those years, he kept a personal diary, both hand-and typewritten, while over his final thirteen years, he substituted diligent correspondence with family, friends, and scholars instead. In the course of his observations, Kikuchi, a social worker by trade, ultimately penned more than one hundred volumes' worth of diaries and letters, totaling well more than one hundred thousand pages. While a preliminary argument may be made for the importance of his writings based on sheer size alone—they fill thirty linear feet of shelf space—a more persuasive and substantive claim can be staked on the content and historical significance of the "Kikuchi Diary" and his collected papers. They cover the most memorable events in twentieth-century American history: the bombing of Pearl Harbor; the U.S. entry into World War ii; the internment of 120,000 fellow Japanese Americans; the Cold War; the civil rights movement; Vietnam; Watergate; and the illusory "morning in America." What is more, the settings (quite literally, where he sat) for his writing were as equally distinctive as the moments he reflected upon: san Francisco, where he spent his youth and young adulthood; the san Bruno, California, racetrack, former home of the celebrity thoroughbred Seabiscuit, which would serve as his temporary prison barracks for four months; an Arizona internment camp that squatted on an American Indian reservation during the war; the south side of Chicago, or "Black Metropolis," the site of his postwar resettlement; the American south, which served as the base for his U.S. Army training; and his home of forty-two years, New York City. Kikuchi also traveled extensively in western Europe, East Asia, and the soviet Union, thanks to his wife's occupation as a world-class dancer. Few contemporary historical figures would canvas as much landscape—in writing and in geography—with the same degree of Tocquevillian insight into America and its contemporary experiments with democracy. World War II had, after all, dislodged a number of the certainties and, in some cases, bedrock pieties, of American democracy; therefore, new routes to understanding what it meant to be an American and a democrat in the postwar era were just being mapped out. <p> Kikuchi first gained limited exposure as the author of "A Young American with a Japanese Face" in <i>From Many Lands</i>, the aforementioned volume edited by Adamic—himself an immigrant from Slovenia and the celebrated progressive activist and coeditor of the journal <i>Common Ground</i>. Kikuchi's chapter, however, was attributed to "Anonymous," thereby limiting knowledge of his authorship to select nisei and members of progressive circles. In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued executive order 9066, which resulted in the evacuation of more than 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans from the West Coast to ten relocation camps far from the official military exclusion zone. In the course of his internment (May 1942–April 1943)—first at the Tanforan Assembly Center in San Bruno, and then later, during his prolonged incarceration at the Gila river relocation Center—and during his resettlement in Chicago (April 1943–August 1945), Kikuchi was tapped by the Berkeley scholar Dorothy Swaine Thomas to collect data and interviews (case histories) for the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement study (JERS), sponsored by the University of California at Berkeley. Kikuchi's reporting of Japanese Americans' experiences in the camps and in Chicago, combined with his personal diary, ultimately led him to make substantial, credited contributions to the study's second published volume, <i>The Salvage</i>, in 1952. Again, though, few knew of Kikuchi's contributions outside the community of nisei intellectuals and some social scientists at Cal and Chicago. <p> In certain social circles, some might have recognized Kikuchi as the husband of Yuriko Amemiya, the highly respected dancer famous for her collaborations with Martha Graham and Jerome Robbins during a sixty-year career on stage and in film. By his own lights, however, Kikuchi eventually earned recognition, in 1973, when the noted historian and former Thomas student John Modell edited and published <i>The Kikuchi Diary: Chronicle from an American Concentration Camp</i>, excerpts from the first nine months (December 1941 through August 1942) of Kikuchi's account, focusing on his stay at Tanforan. More than fifteen years later, Kikuchi himself submitted a reflective piece to <i>Views from Within</i> (1989), a collection of essays that analyzed JERS. In an extremely thoughtful and unconventional approach, the sociologist Dana Y. Takagi focused her essay on the importance of Kikuchi's case histories, privileging them with having broken "the Nisei silence" and contributed to the underdeveloped history of race relations and ethnicity and to the history of Nisei women (this last accolade was due to Kikuchi's number of unadorned case histories, or interviews, with resettled nisei young women in postwar Chicago). Finally, the prominent oral historian Arthur Hansen recorded Kikuchi's life history a mere month before Kikuchi's death, planning to include it in the comprehensive Japanese American World War II Evacuation Oral History Project based out of California State University, Fullerton. <p> My own examination of Charles Kikuchi builds on the sturdy foundation laid by these incredibly generous scholars, providing a more detailed portrait of Kikuchi over a longer period of time, based largely on his diaries, papers, and letters between 1940 and 1950. While these previous scholars analyzed the diaries by focusing mainly on the experience of the Japanese American internment, I attempt to read them as a synecdoche for the highly vexed but evolving relationships between ethnic and racial groups during this exceptional moment of the 1940s. Where scholars have considered only the diaries documenting Kikuchi's incarceration (approximately eleven months), I have broadened the sample to include a decade's worth of unpublished work. I have also included previously unexamined correspondence between Kikuchi and his mentors, colleagues, and family members, while incorporating original nonarchival materials given to me by his wife, his friends, and scholars who studied him, all in an effort to render a more complete portrait of Kikuchi before, during, and after the 1940s. The diaries reflect a young man's developing sense of himself and the world around him. Honest, direct, self-critical, witty, and thoughtful, Kikuchi writes with a dynamic voice and perspective: an intellectual in the making, a historical subject wrestling with questions of race, democracy, and individualism at the same time that the nation at large was struggling with very similar questions. <p> Viewed through this particular lens of Kikuchi's experience, the period's collective social and cultural history becomes clearer. Kikuchi's diary and papers provide substantive evidence of interracial alliances and conflicts at a time when the theory and practice of democracy itself were rigorously being tested and redefined. During the first stage of this period, or the early years of the internment (1942–1943), Japanese Americans experienced an extreme form of prejudice, oppression, and segregation, while fellow minorities initially feared for their own welfare, understandably hewing to shibboleths of unqualified patriotism. Eventually, though, the absurd arbitrariness of the evacuation compelled other American minorities to consider their own possible futures. African Americans, for example—having already borne separate and unequal treatment for more than three hundred years—recognized the all-too-familiar signposts: the segregation and mass incarceration of 120,000 U.S. citizens, rounded up like human chattel and placed in horse stalls with little or no consideration of constitutional rights. In the second stage—the resettlement of Japanese Americans, circa 1943–1945—growing populations of job-seeking minorities struggled over and negotiated the restricted urban spaces they were now forced to share with recently freed Japanese: after the roundup and evacuation were complete, African Americans, Filipinos, and Mexicans moved into low-rent West Coast neighborhoods, formerly known as "Little Tokyos," in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Meanwhile, a decent number of internees moved to new, unfamiliar cities in the Midwest and Northeast, some settling in established but small Japanese communities in Chicago and New York. In these more complicated and more crowded urban crucibles, blacks, browns, and yellows met in inevitable conflict, but also in common cause over jobs, housing, politics, culture, white supremacy, and the war itself. <p> <p> Shaking the Tree <p> Whereas Alexis de Tocqueville arrived at his conclusions about nineteenth-century America as an outsider, Kikuchi lived America as both insider and outsider. Born in Vallejo, California, on January 18, 1916, Kikuchi struggled as the son of Issei immigrants, the second sibling among eight. His father, Nakajiro, had first arrived in the United states around the turn of the century, with great hopes of returning to Japan a wealthy man. However, after several years of toiling as a migratory farmworker, and an additional five years of service as a cook in the U.S. navy, the elder Kikuchi put down stakes in the waterfront district of Vallejo, near the Mare Island Naval Base, opening up a barbershop that would eventually double as the family's home. Kikuchi's mother, Shizuko, the educated daughter of a well-respected middle-class family in Japan, was seventeen years younger than Nakajiro. A broker arranged their marriage in 1913, for the sum of $500, and Mrs. Kikuchi did not meet her husband until the day he returned to Japan for their wedding. Her family took Nakajiro at his word that he was a wealthy American businessman, so Shizuko was greatly surprised when she discovered her new husband's occupation and living arrangements: a small barber's shack in the midst of dilapidated buildings, saloons, and brothels—the Wild West indeed. In Japan, the status of a barber was extremely low, since women usually filled such roles. According to her son, however, "[Shizuko] resigned herself to the situation." <p> The Kikuchis gave each of their eight children Japanese names, but as was customary among Nisei, the names were Anglicized as they grew older. The first child was a daughter, who kept her name, Mariko, born in 1914. The siblings following Charlie were Sutekatsu, born in 1917 and called Jack; Haruka, born in 1919, who became Alice; Emiko, born in 1924, was known as Emi or Amy; Yoriko, born in 1926, changed her name to Bette; Takeshi, born in 1929, called himself Tom; and Miyako, born in 1931, became Marji. Charlie's Japanese name was quite beautiful, even fitting, in its translation: "Tatsuro," meaning "standing man." He never revealed his "screwy Japanese name," according to Dorothy Thomas. In fact, she reported, he simply took to the nickname "Charlie" given him by his father's friends in the barbershop. Similarly, Kikuchi's best friend, Warren Tsuneishi, confirmed his pal's extreme secrecy regarding the name, remembering an occasion when Kikuchi showed Tsuneishi a copy of his birth certificate with the middle name blacked out. He commented, "I never quite understood Charlie's attitude toward his Japanese middle name, except in terms of his profound desire to be considered an 'American,' and his consistent rejection of anything to do with Japanese identity." <p> Despite her claims to the contrary, Mrs. Kikuchi found it challenging to adjust to her husband's career, and times grew difficult for Charlie's parents. In addition, because of his father's excessive drinking and gambling problems (habits he had developed long before starting a family), Kikuchi often faced the threat of physical and emotional abuse. In part because he was the eldest son, and in part because Nakajiro blamed him exclusively for Shizuko's threats of divorce, Charles alone suffered his father's beatings. The elder Kikuchi also cast aspersions on his younger wife's fidelity, inexplicably focusing the brunt of his suspicion and anger on Charlie. As a result, at the age of eight, the younger Kikuchi was placed in the Boys and Girls industrial Home and Farm at Lytton springs, an orphanage run by the salvation Army, in Healdsburg, California (about eighty miles north of San Francisco). For all intents and purposes a ward of the state, he would enjoy little or no contact with his family over the next decade. Almost apologetic and certainly self-effacing, he would offer further rationale for his father's actions in a 1955 letter: <p> My father never really believed I was illegitimate. He was extremely jealous of my mother and this was his way of getting back at her. As I was a weakly child, it helped his theory since he felt that no first son of his could be that weak. I had defective hearing as a child and many illnesses, and my mother overprotected me and this gave my father further reason to take it out on me. <p> <p> Given these circumstances, Kikuchi created a surrogate family of his own at the orphanage, a diverse unit that included children from many racial and ethnic backgrounds; a veritable "League of nations" he claimed. This unique situation prepared Kikuchi for his numerous interracial and interethnic relationships later in life, predisposing him to an extremely high level of comfort in future multicultural or interracial milieus (like Chicago and New York). I further posit that this period of abuse and abandonment affected Kikuchi in two other specific ways. First, in the wake of violence at the hand of his father, Kikuchi developed a deep-seated, but ultimately reversible, resentment of all things Issei, deeming both the generation and all it represented as too "Japanese-y." second, as the book will demonstrate, Kikuchi was earnestly hypersensitive to the predicament of those most severely abused and violated in the proverbial American family: minorities in general, but African Americans in particular. Back at the orphanage, this early surrogate family undoubtedly helped Kikuchi navigate his parentless adolescence. in regard to this particularly challenging time, Modell thoughtfully—and I would argue, accurately—offers a psychoanalytic reading of the young man at this point: <p> For the next decade Kikuchi would lead the life of an orphan at the home, developing there the mental qualities which life after such extreme trauma demanded. As Kikuchi recalls, he grew up in rather rough but basically humane surroundings, a self-motivated but entirely "regular" guy. Behind these qualities Kikuchi has guarded the deeper recesses of his psyche; of these, the present diary at best reveals fleeting images, for by 1942 his defenses were well set. <p> <p> After graduating from Healdsburg High school in the spring of 1934, honorably finishing in the top four of his class (despite a foggy, fifty-four-year-old claim to Hansen that he was salutatorian!), Kikuchi departed the area for san Francisco, contemplating both college and a job. While his family invited him to return to live with them in Vallejo, Kikuchi chose to tough it out in san Francisco as a houseboy, one of the few Depression-era occupations open to many Japanese Americans. The money he earned helped him enroll in San Francisco State College in 1935, where he concentrated in California history (not the "oriental History" major concocted by Adamic for the "touched-up" narrative of "A young American with a Japanese Face"), with the hope that he might one day teach at the high school level; he knew, however, that few if any schools would willingly hire a Japanese American. All the while, Kikuchi maintained his position as houseboy, forming a unique relationship with the family that employed him. Although he cleaned and waited on the dinner table, Kikuchi eventually earned enough respect from his employers to sit in the front seat of the family car or join the family and houseguests in occasional conversation and debate (still in his servant's coat, however, despite his exaggerated self-inflation). Modell reports that Kikuchi even managed to convert "his employers from typical California contempt for Japanese Americans to a far more enlightened position." For Kikuchi's part, he told Modell that "living in that household was significant to me because ... I began to develop [there] more and more identification with Americanism, so that it was not just an intellectual attitude, but an exposure to a way of life that I sort of accepted even though I was resentful of the so-called servant role (which was not really a servant role)." Modell further asserts that Kikuchi imbibed "the middle-class values of hard work and material success" from this surrogate family, and Kikuchi himself affirmed, "I didn't get that in my own home; I didn't get that in the orphanage." <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>Jim and Jap Crow</b> by <b>Matthew M. Briones</b> Copyright © 2012 by Princeton University Press. Excerpted by permission of PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.