As I read They Called Us Enemy, two things in particular came to my mind- The importance of family, and how the struggles that other people go through may seem oblivious to us. Families are the foundation of society, and without them the very fabric of our world would fall apart. It is breathtaking how many families there are living their own lives, and going through their own struggles.
A big theme of They Called Us Enemy was the importance of family, as in the story it is seen that throughout all the hardships the Takei’s go through, the number one priority for them is to maintain the family they created in America. Their mother even goes as far as denouncing her American citizenship in order to keep their family together, and the familial ties in the book are also represented by George’s close relationship with his brother. Without this close relationship in George’s family, he may not have made it out of the internment camps the way that he did, and the story of his life would be quite different.
The struggles of racism are a large part of They Called Us Enemy, in particular Asian-American hate. One thing I took away from these things are that you never know what a person is going through or has gone through in the past. Racism impacts all of us differently, and it is not our place to take a look at another person’s struggle with face value. For example, in World War II, as America entered the war, stigma against Japanese Americans who were suspected as “enemies of the state”, rose to an all time high. These people weren’t stigmatized because of something they had done, or something they had gone through, but rather the fear of what they may do. America took this fear at face value and labeled the Japanese Americans as traitors, without really investigating and seeing that these people were really just Americans- the same ideals, same language, same flag; the only difference lay in that they had come from somewhere else seeking a better life. Had America not taken their fear at face value, the injustice done to the Japanese Americans would not have occurred.
In short, family bonds are stronger than anything else, and it is these bonds that keep us and our country together. It is important to remember that everybody has their own lives, their own families, and people aren’t so different from you. Once these perspectives are looked at, the actions that we take as a country may be more in line with our ideals of freedom and justice for all.