An Ignorant Imagination

“Hey, dad?”

“Yea son?”

“Why did that guy punch you in the face?”

“… He was just having a bad day.” 

“But you don’t even know him! Why were you yelling at him? Why was he laughing at you?” 

“… I told you, son, he was just having a bad day at work.”

“Did he get happy when he hit you or something? Did you tell him a funny joke? That’s so weird!“


“Ooh I want to try! Let me go hit him! Hey mister! Co…”

“No Son! … I will tell you when you get older… Now come on, we don’t want to miss the ice cream truck.”

“Oh, alright…”

Growing up in America, I had that conversation with my dad when I was only six years old. Now I understand. Racial prejudice is a rampantly active topic that follows back to the earliest civilizations. Blinded by the joys of youth that seemed endless, I never really paid attention to the idea. I could never repay my parents for the fake smiles they put on whenever something like this happens. They were the ones that kept my playfulness as a child, and that is priceless.

While reading through “They Called Us Enemy” by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott, I was continually reminded of the racism my family and I experienced as a child. Every Japanese American that was hit by Executive Order 9066 had to get used to being treated like wild animals. Throughout the entire book, George Takei is portraying his experience as a child. He was always curious with questions, but his childhood was full of adventurous bliss. His parents never made the situation as bad as it seemed, and as a child, he didn’t seem to mind any of it.

After George and his family were evicted from their living spaces, they were transported to an internment camp because of Executive Order 9066. When George asks his father where they are going, he sugarcoats the situation and calls it a vacation. George and his brother are then reassured and excited.

The moments where our parents are the ones that defend our emotions from the emerging problems from the outside world. These are the moments that we should treasure in our lives forever. Our parents are the reason why we were able to make out the things we consider as fun. They were the ones that kept us always running and guessing, as we didn’t know enough ourselves. Even if we did question anything, it would always end with a playful happiness.

While listening to the play mountain podcast, I really do admire Isamu Noguchi for his intuitive thinking and beliefs about play. What could be considered as play? Is it only the moments in our lives that we enjoy? Are there any obscure ways of achieving play? Why is play important for us? Is the word “play” only available for children? Along with all of these philosophical questions, I think back to how parents achieved the same bliss and joy that we did as children. Even though it is globally accepted that children’s play is unaffected by more confusing topics, there are still children that don’t experience play because of strict parents or limiting factors. Knowing the backstory of my parents, and the rough and painful childhoods that they both held as immigrants, the only think I could think of was that their parents did the same things. Noguchi’s idea of non-directive play is something that stuck between many generations, with many more to come.

Play is the idea that keeps us happy and de-stressed, so that we may find our journey of life enjoyable. The world is full of many problems that stray us from our goals. In order to counteract these problems, we find opportunities of play. However, we should never forget the ones that reinforced that idea in the first place.

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