They Called Us Enemy

Created by: George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, Harmony Becker

For ages: YA-Middle and High School

Language: English, some Japanese. 

Topics Covered: Japanese Internment, Historical Figures, Historical Events, WWII, Growing Up, LGBTQ, Japanese-American Experience, Own Voices, Graphic Novel. 

Summary: This is an incredible graphic novel, telling of historical events that are rarely taught in schools. Deciding to post it today, February 19th, acknowledges a day that Japanese Americans call Remembrance Day, commemorating the passage of Executive Order 9066.  This executive order decreed that “excluded persons” could be removed from active military zones (the entirety of the west coast) and interned elsewhere.  While 9066 never said specifically what types of people were excluded, this became the basis for the removal of Japanese and Japanese Americans into camps for the next several years.  National Treasure George Takei and his family were just 5 of the 120,000 individuals relocated (several times) into internment camps.

George and his family were shuttled around for several years, his father engaging in community-building work and becoming elected barrack manager several times.  Upon release, the family moved back to Los Angeles and rebuilt their life.  The graphic novel also covers George growing up and becoming an actor, including emotional scenes where he visits the house of the president that was a proponent of the camps in the first place.

They Called Us Enemy is woven together with George’s memories, discussions with his father when he was a teen, and a Ted Talk.  This memoir describes events as perceived by a child, thinking they were going on vacation, as well as the political climate at the time of WWII and life in the camps.  The United States is no stranger to committing atrocities against people it fears.  Having a personal account of what happened to citizens in recent years gives a look into what can still happen today, if control over the democratic process is not regained by citizens.  We highly recommend this book, it’s crucial that young people today learn about what can happen when fear takes over and human rights are forgotten.

About the Creators:

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George Takei is known worldwide for playing Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek: The Original Series. But Takei’s story goes where few have gone before. After a childhood spent in Japanese American internment camps during WWII, he has become a leading figure in the fight for social justice and LGBTQ rights. Mashable named him the most influential person on Facebook, with 10.4 million likes and 2.8 million Twitter followers.

Justin Eisinger is Editorial Director at IDW, with over twelve years in graphic storytelling. He seeks to create engaging, impactful non-fiction stories.

Steven Scott has worked in comics since 2010, and has written for Archie, Arcana Studios, and Heavy Metal, among others.

Artist Harmony Becker has created Himawari Share, Love Potion, and Anemone and Catharus. Part of a multicultural family, she has lived in South Korea and Japan.

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