Essay by
  • Sabah Abbasi
in response to
Essay by Fusaye Kazaoka, Sept. 22, 1994

Fusaye Kazaoka was a child when she came to Seabrook Farms with her family. Her memory of moving to Seabrook is a far cry from the descriptions of other residents who remember it quite fondly—she writes of the cramped and uncomfortable living quarters, the lack of privacy, and the dull atmosphere. Throughout her description, she alludes to various levels of racial tension, not necessarily in her job at Seabrook, but in other positions that open to the discrimination of the "outside world" beyond the one created by Charles F. Seabrook. This includes prejudice that she experienced from white workers at New Jersey Bell, and an incident where her younger sister refused to sit with Black people at mealtimes because "she had never seen Blacks prior to our arrival to Seabrook and thought they didn't bathe." These references to race are minor but significant; they serve to illustrate the nuanced dynamic that existed between and among various minority groups, and complicate the widely held perception that minorities comprise a monolithic group who were uniformly subjected to a white supremacist ideology.

Kazaoka is cognizant of the discrimination and prejudice to which she and other workers were subjected, though not necessarily at Seabrook Farms. While she acknowledges that she was able to secure a job and move through promotions, she constantly reminds readers that she had to overcome several obstacles because of the fact that she was Japanese and a woman. She points out that many of the positions that she had were previously held by white men, and notes that "the reason I was promoted into a man's job was to fulfill AAP/EEOC requirements." Kazaoka's memory illustrates a critical, truthful picture of what life for her was like at Seabrook Farms.