Manzanar National Historic Site has become an intense place to work lately. Every day, at least one visitor (usually more) tells me that he/she is worried that the same racist, knee-jerk reaction discriminating against a minority group is happening again.
And, if you’re wondering, most of the visitors making that comment are white men. Now, I love the white men in my life, and I think they’d agree, that when U.S. White Men are concerned about racial discrimination, it’s hit a new level.
I hand out tissues. I tell visitors that the reason Manzanar was preserved was because the Japanese Americans wanted to ensure the same thing didn’t happen to someone else.
I tell visitors who are visibly shaken and worried that other visitors have the same concerns. I say, “You are not alone.”
Patricia Biggs, Ph.D., is a Park Ranger and historian for the National Park Service, working at Manzanar National Historic Site. Her latest work has been on the upcoming exhibit on education at Manzanar during World War II. She writes from Independence, California.
The views expressed in this story are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of the Manzanar Committee.
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Deep gratitude to Patricia Biggs for this. Once again we see the importance of Manzanar as a vital living history site.