My heritage

 

These photos are of my grandmother when she arrived in America in 1950. My maternal grandmother was born in Japan; my maternal grandfather was American, of Louisiana Cajun French. My grandparents met during the Korean War. My grandfather served in the Army during that time. He met my grandmother, all of 18 years old at the time. They fell in love and he brought her back to America with him as his wife. These photos were taken shortly after they returned to America for the first time.¬†After the war, my grandfather was stationed at Ft. Sill Army Base in Oklahoma. They later were stationed in Germany, then Oakland Army Base. My grandfather was honorably discharged from the military from Oakland. My grandparents, like so many other young veteran families of the era, sought to buy a home in the East Bay Area and raise their family there. Unfortunately at that time (early 1960s), discriminatory legal “covenants” prevented any and all non-whites from buying homes in many neighborhoods. My grandparents tried to buy homes in San Lorenzo and San Leandro, but were turned away when the sellers or realtors saw my grandmother and realized her race. My grandmother still vividly recalls and occasionally tells me the story of how my grandfather once had made all the arrangements to buy a brand-new home in San Lorenzo. The deal was basically done, but when my grandfather and grandmother arrived to sign the final paperwork, the realtor took one look at my grandmother and literally waved them away. Eventually my grandparents were able to buy a home in unincorporated Hayward just outside of San Lorenzo village, where the covenants were not in effect. Even then, my grandparents and their family daily faced shocking racism and prejudice. This is how my mother’s side of the family came to settle in Hayward. Many years later, I rented that same house from my grandmother and started my own family there.

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My maternal grandmother arrived in America by sea in 1950. She and her father, a Japanese restaurateur and political dissident during the fascist era of the 1940s, were forced to flee their home in Japan to Manchuria in the 1940s. They later settled in Korea, where my grandmother met my grandfather, an American serviceman serving a tour of duty during the Korean Conflict.
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This is my grandmother in front of an Oklahoma barracks shortly after arriving in America in 1950. My grandfather was stationed at Ft. Sill Army Base in Oklahoma when this photo was taken. They later were stationed in Germany, then Oakland Army Base. After he was discharged, the family tried to buy a home in the East Bay Area. At that time (late 1960s), there were discriminatory covenants in many neighborhoods that prevented non-whites from buying homes. They looked in San Lorenzo and San Leandro, but were turned away when the sellers or realtors learned my grandmother’s race. Eventually my grandparents were able to buy a home in Hayward. This is how my mother’s side of the family came to settle in Hayward.

 

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My grandfather and grandmother in 1950. He was from Baton Rouge, Louisiana; she was from Saga Prefecture, Japan. He was overseas serving in the Army when they met. They were married and he brought her home to Louisiana. Later they relocated to Oakland, then bought their first and only home in unincorporated Hayward.
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My grandmother with her children in Oklahoma in 1958. My mother is the little girl in front, along with my aunt and uncle. This photo perfectly captures their personalities! Unfortunately prejudice against Japanese-Americans was intense and pervasive when this photo was taken. My mother, aunt, uncle, and grandmother have shared with me many stories of discrimination, fear, and hate that was daily aimed at them back in this time.

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