Seattle 8th grade TOPS student Ada Rosen was inspired to write this poem after her visit to Bainbridge Island on April 29, 2015 to learn more about Japanese American Exclusion during WWII. The students from The Options Program at Seward made their annual visit to Bainbridge Island in April. As part of the OWWCC heritage education program conducted jointly through Bainbridge Island Historical Museum and EduCulture, students toured Historic Suyematsu Farm, had the opportunity to have lunch and talk with elders who had experienced exclusion, viewed the documentary Visible Target, and visited the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. Thank you to Ada for generously sharing her poem.
American Dream (Incarceration)
by Ada Rosen
Thousands of feet step onto new land
Stoic faces hiding broken hearts
Can’t go home, can’t cry out, can’t fight back
Won’t fight back
Can you imagine fitting your home in a handbag?
What do you pack for a destination unknown?
These kids have never even been off the island
Isn’t camp supposed to be fun?
We all came here to live the American dream
For some of us it’s easier
Those who can fit in don’t get singled out
It’s easy to live freely when you are white
At the camps they sleep in animal stalls
What does that say about their humanity?
Every day they line up for their meals
Then once again to get sick in the restrooms
Theresa never got to meet her little brother
The first time she saw him was the day of his funeral
You’re lucky if your parents have a good job
And can afford to buy you postcards
Suicides in the river are a regular occurrence
The only way you can control your life is by taking it
Maybe you can catch a glimpse of freedom through the barbed wire
And the kids still think they are on vacation
Then it’s over
Uprooted again in the name of release
Staying in camp might be better than facing the real world
Is my family supposed to live off twenty five dollars?