How loss of language affects me

My father was born in the mid 50’s and hardly learned Japanese, even though both his parents were fluent. There was no Japanese spoken at my home. My parents attempted to enrol me in the local Japanese school when I was young, and though I wasn’t rejected, the principal suggested I may not mesh with the other children because I was mixed race. This was in the early 90’s. As an adult now, who is involved in my JC community, I carry a lot of shame about not being able to speak Japanese. It’s especially hard when non JCs have learned it. I don’t resent them because they worked hard, but I feel they tend to look down on me for not doing the same. I’ve taken some language lessons, however it hasn’t really stuck. What they don’t see is, after internment, what my grandparents wanted the most was for their children was to grow up happy and healthy, and as Canadian as possible. They have English names, they played hockey and went to boy scouts. This was out of love, and for their protection. As the grandchildren, we don’t fear racism or bullying in the same way. However, our language was lost in one generation, and it really affects my identity now.

Carley Okamura

View posts by Carley Okamura
I am a yonsei living in Edmonton, Alberta, which is where I grew up. I have played Japanese drums (taiko) for 20 years, and am involved with the local EJCA.
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