Just in time for the NCORE Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education this Friday in Portland, we are pleased to launch publication of the Educators Guide for We Hereby Refuse.
Produced for the Wing Luke Museum of Seattle, this free online guide is suitable for teachers in grades 6-12. I was honored to have the YURI Education Project take on development of the lesson plans tied to the book. We spent two years on development. Freda Lin and Cathlin Goulding have delivered an outstanding and timely resource.
“Given recent debates on critical race theory — and the banning of books that touch on the long, painful history of racial exclusion — we believe teaching We Hereby Refuse is an act of resistance,” says Cathlin Goulding, co-director of YURI. “Teaching this book demands that we center the experiences of people of color. Reading it with young people allows for an intricate, insistent reading of the American legal establishment and the longtime racism that has shaped citizenship. We can’t think of a better time to start introducing this book into U.S. schools.”
The Educators Guide includes innovative lesson plans to physically engage students, such as how to organize a “tea party” where students get up and walk around the room, meeting and greeting each other as characters from the novel. In “tableau vivants” or “living pictures,” students act out a scene from the story that dramatizes the difficult decisions faced by our characters.
Accompanying the printed guide is an online interactive historical timeline detailing the events of We Hereby Refuse. This timeline uses a software called Tiki-Toki that enables you to click on any event to get a pop-up of the story behind that event. You can then click to open o a rich database of the documents and photos that verify the history we tell in the graphic novel.
From my Author’s Note: While many classroom materials on World War II focus on the unfairness of being uprooted from one’s home solely on the basis of race, this educator’s guide takes the discussion a step further.
Yes, the mass removal of Japanese Americans was unjust and unfair, but those who were targeted by the government complied with Army orders to leave their homes, due in part to the surrender of protest by community leaders who urged cooperation.
This guide examines how some contested incarceration after their removal, through the example of three young Americans who refuse to submit to their ongoing imprisonment in American concentration camps without a fight. In each case, it is their desire to assert their American citizenship that drives these characters to action:
- Jim Akutsu refuses to be drafted from camp, in order to get his day in court as an American citizen;
- HIroshi Kashiwagi refuses the government demand to sign a loyalty oath in camp. He yields to family pressure to renounce his American citizenship, then must fight to get it back; and
- Mitsuye Endo refuses a government offer to leave camp before her fellow incarcerees, so that her lawsuit challenging her detention as an American citizen can proceed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
While the specific subject of We Hereby Refuse is camp resistance, the book can be effectively taught as an overview of the entire camp experience, from start to finish. The story is told chronologically, so your students can experience the passage of time and the series of decisions that had to be made just as the characters did.
Wing Luke education director Rahul Gupta has also produced this We Hereby Refuse Training Resource Video to accompany the Guide, featuring three members of our Creative Team.
This Educators Guide is produced by the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience with a Confinement Sites Grant from the US Department of the Interior, National Park Service.
Additional funding for the Educators Guide is provided by the George and Sakaye Aratani “Community Advancement Research Endowment,” or Aratani C.A.R.E. Awards, from the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. Our thanks to all our funders.