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Essay by
  • Michael Denis
in response to
Essay by Fusaye Kazaoka, Sept. 22, 1994

Fusaye Kazaoka arrived at Seabrook Farms in 1945 from an internment camp in Poston, Arizona. Placed in Hoover Village at Seabrook, she recalled the experience as one of little privacy and cramped quarters. Physical discomfort also correlated with emotional discomfort, and Kazaoka recalled her sister's fear of "dirty people" in the Seabrook cafeteria. Kazaoka realized that her sister meant, by "dirty people," black laborers whose darker skin color she attributed to a lack of cleanliness. Later in life, Kazaoka herself faced discrimination on the basis of her race and ethnicity, as well as her gender, and she recalled the prejudice she faced when she took a job at the New Jersey Bell company - along with the threat that Seabrook Farms would evict her from company housing for taking an outside job. Southern New Jersey had been a hotbed for labor activism in the 1930s, and anti-Japanese sentiment by locals created further unrest and bigotry when internees were relocated in the 1940s. Under the orders of C.F. Seabrook, the employees of Seabrook underwent integration and Americanization, even though many were already U.S. citizens, and were protected from outright discrimination and hostility. The close surveillance Seabrook subjected his workers to, however, did not prevail outside the company town, as Kazaoka discovered.