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Essay by
  • Dmitri Orlov
in response to
Essay by Helge T. Kangur

Helge T. Kangur's account provides memories of her childhood at Seabrook Farms. The author, together with her mother, discovered a book about Estonians at Seabrook Farms, which prompted her to reflect. For the Kangurs, the book captured their life experiences at Seabrook. Kangur warmly remembers her school years and her friendships with Japanese Americans. One of the important aspects of the piece is Kangur's realization at an adult age in ways that were not readily apparent to her as a young child that the Japanese Americans she knew had gone through trauma. Kangur's recollections of her childhood experiences in this regard suggest that Japanese American internment was an unpublicized chapter of shame in American history.

Kangur makes the point that Seabrook Farms allowed her to preserve her Estonian cultural heritage. Multiculturalism is at the forefront of Seabrook Farms' historical narrative, forming a positive public perception of the farming enterprise. Yet that notion eclipses the darker history of the place. The multiculturalism of Seabrook Farms is more accurately described as a key element of the publicity and propaganda that the company produced. Previous historical accounts of Seabrook Farms have been very one-sided, describing an ideal place built to provide people with opportunities. However, Seabrook Farms has not been represented from an unbiased viewpoint. Because of this one-sided view, we need to be wary of stories that overly celebrate narratives of multiculturalism at Seabrook - as Kangur herself learned.