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Jaden Ventura | The Feather Online

Haw and other Chinese needed to wear pins that said, “I’m Chinese-American” so they would not be targets of prejudice aimed towards Japanese. 

Although World War II began in 1939, the United States of America did not officially join until 1941 after the Japanese bombed the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In turn, many on the mainland began targeting Japanese-Americans, immigrants and other minority groups with prejudice and hostility.

Before long, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, commencing the round-up of over 120,000 Japanese-Americans to relocation camps spread across the western US.

Prejudice against loyal Japanese-Americans and immigrants was heightened substantially after this. Many were unfairly beaten, thrown in jail, had property or houses damaged and some businesses refused to serve them.

I’m Chinese, but people can’t tell us apart so we were discriminated against as well. We were so afraid because people can’t tell us apart. They were beating up the Japanese kids here in Fresno because of the war. They were blaming them for everything and we didn’t want to be beaten up so we had to start wearing pins that said, ‘I’m Chinese-American.’ — Thelma Haw

These events highlighted the prejudice against the Japanese. Unfortunately, other minority groups received similar treatment. Thelma Haw experienced this during and after WWII.

“I’m Chinese, but people can’t tell us apart so we were discriminated against as well,” Haw said. “We were so afraid because people can’t tell us apart. They were beating up the Japanese kids here in Fresno because of the war. They were blaming them for everything and we didn’t want to be beaten up.

The author can be reached via email: Jaden Ventura, Instagram, and Twitter.

For more on Thelma Haw check out: Haw provides different angle on Executive Order 9066

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