Essay by
  • Janna Aladdin
in response to
Essay by Iddy Asada, July 20, 1994

Iddy Asada's short essay offers an intimate account of what it meant to grow up as a second generation Japanese American, or Nisei, during World War II. In this piece, Iddy recalls her love of basketball and wanting to join a women's basketball team. However, World War II broke out, automatically casting her as a suspicious other, and forcing her family to uproot. Iddy describes her experience of forced relocation and internment: "Our family went through the horrible stages of the whole evacuation bit - trying to get ourselves ready for this 'adventure' from the Assembly Center at the local Rodeo Ground for three months, and on to the forsaken, hot desert of Poston, Arizona." Her usage of the term "adventure" serves as a euphemism for the trying and terrifying experience of removal. However, despite the drastic changes associated with relocation and internment, Iddy's ambition to join a basketball team remained constant. Prior to her family's internment, Iddy was captivated by the traveling team at her church, but was too young to join. During the period of her family's internment, Iddy was able to join a basketball team that was established in the internment camp where she received rigorous coaching. Her dedication to basketball seemed to be the only stable component of her childhood from home, to camp, to relocation, which eventually brought her to Seabrook Farms in New Jersey. Iddy's experience of instability serves as an example of what childhood meant for many Japanese Americans during World War II. Their childhoods didn't stop despite the war and internment, even if they were marked by uncertainty and instability.

Seabrook offered the option to join a variety of recreational sports teams to its workers. Eventually, Iddy was selected to join a basketball team as well as a softball team. Her team won, and she excelled. But the reality remains that she was only able to fulfill this ambition, paradoxically, through her internment. Like many community members in her situation, Iddy was able to assert her American identity and citizenship while at Seabrook, but only at Seabrook. Outside of this agricultural complex she was deemed suspect by the larger sociopolitical climate.