Exclusion Tag Project

A student adds his completed Exclusion Tag to the display outside BPA following the Snow Falling on Cedars special school matinee performance.

A student adds his completed Exclusion Tag to the display outside BPA following the Snow Falling on Cedars special school matinee performance.

The Exclusion Tag Project was created as part of the community conversation surrounding Bainbridge Performing Arts’ production of David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars. Audience members – middle school and high school students as well as adults – were invited to share how the experience of exclusion relates to their own life, by recording their answers on a tag that is very similar to those that were issued to Japanese Americans during the exclusion experience of WWII.

A middle school teacher and student add their tags to the display.

A Sakai Intermediate School teacher and student add their tags to the display.

Completed tags with the recorded comments were on display in the BPA lobby throughout the run of Snow Falling on Cedars, and subsequently at Waterfront Park Community Center. They will be archived at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum as the “2015 Exclusion Tag Community Project.”

The following are examples of comments recorded on the tags, by both students and adults. Although the author’s names were voluntarily included on many of the tags, we have chosen to publish them anonymously.

“My beloved grandparents, Bella and Willie, survived the Holocaust. They were Polish Jews who were forced to abandon family and flee to Russia and ‘Middle Asia’ (as they always called it) for the years of the war from 1939 on. They lost family and had to wander through Europe working their way to the U.S. in 1951 to start anew. They never wished for anyone to have such an experience ever again.”

“People of color being pulled off a train I travelled for several months in 2002 from Ontario to NY State when we crossed from Canada to U.S.”

“During WWII, Japan also bombed the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. My father’s family members were Aleutians and the U.S. Government thought, as they looked Asian, they might be sympathetic. Aleutians were moved to an internment camp in Adak Island. My father was born there. In the late ‘80’s, the U.S. government paid the interned Aleutians $10,000 for loss of homes and livelihood.”

“I see the media’s impact on our society’s view of Muslims given the events in the Middle East. And I feel my own exclusion targeted toward those who are intolerant.”

“Being vegan and an atheist, people often tease and make fun of my beliefs and way of life. Most people whom I’ve talked about being vegan with show prejudice (a lot) toward me and my family. It’s interesting because people don’t make fun of Christians (usually) but they do of me.”

“My mother was incarcerated during the Japanese American Exclusion. I fear how quickly we seem to forget the injustice on a family, community, regional, national and global level.”

“I have had moments where some of my family members have faced racial intolerance.”

“The time I remember I was excluded was when I was in the 1st grade and we were doing a class activity and I was extremely shy. No one talked to me and if they did, they would tease me. I made only one best friend.”

“I have felt excluded during school from the “popular group.” I have also felt excluded by my older brother and his friends.”

“Two of my uncles, both German immigrants, were interned, one at Fort Lincoln, Bismark, ND, the other with his family (pregnant wife and 3 children) at Crystal City, TX. A book, The Train to Crystal City, is based on interviews with my cousin.”

“My son was bullied because he was different – other children were intolerant of his differences and made fun of him. This bullying only makes him feel ashamed and angry which affects community – by causing a citizen to be less effective and tolerant of others.”

“As a child growing up in Missoula, MT, I was surrounded and aware of many American Indians. I saw the film “Little Big Man” and became ashamed of what white people did to the American Indians. I wanted to be Indian, not white, so I dressed as a Lakota Sioux, in 7th grade. I was ridiculed for dressing that way until I gave up and quit dressing like an Indian.”

“I am hated by many. I am only good at one thing, music. I am excluded from many groups of people.”

“My parents were sent to the Heart Mountain, WY Internment Camp. They returned to California with perseverance and resolve. From them, I learned that life may not be fair, but people can be. Your conscience tells you when something isn’t fair. Speak up against injustice – be the voice for the voiceless. Make Walt and Millie proud!”

“I went over to my friend’s at age 8 and everyone was on a trampoline. I asked if I could join them. They told me they hated me and to go home.”

“I won’t forget the potential for injustice that arises from fear. This memorial will help me and others to learn acceptance and generosity, no matter how tempting it is to be afraid and selfish.”

“Intolerance that I’ve felt during my life – the fact that people don’t like people who don’t fit into society. Such as the smart, quiet people who are always the target of general society because they aren’t physically able or just don’t like conversing, are cast out from others.”

“My small concerns and worries are nothing, a little spilled water or a smudge on furniture, fixed instantly. I hope I learn the lessons of patience, endurance, resiliency.”

“We are surrounded still by exclusion and intolerance. It plays out nationally and locally. We are immersed in examples. Plays, art, events like this help us see. Thank you.”
















Leave a Reply