They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker. 2019. 203p. Gr. 6-12 YA GRAPHIC 940.53
This autobiographical piece by Takei, famous for his role of Sulu on the “Star Trek” television series and movies, tells of the time his family spent in World War II internment camps for Japanese-Americans when he was just a small child. Although the graphic novel format contains many fewer words than a written memoir, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. The artwork conveys the emotion of a heartbreaking time for Japanese-American citizens whose wealth was claimed by the government, as they were being sent to segregated camps throughout the country. The Santa Anita Raceway in California, one of the more well-known camps, is where the Takei family began their incarceration. Not only does the story tell of the family’s humiliation by being stripped of decent housing and their rights to live in their own homes, it reviews the political legislation (Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066) that was responsible for the displacement of families in 1940. Takei describes highs and lows within the camps during his years living there. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan formally apologized for the previous actions of the federal government. The story continues on to document Takei’s successful career and his activism in the area of gay rights.