Interview: Asian-Americans in the Segregated South

Author Leslie Bow sat down with Wisconsin World to discuss her new book, Partly Colored: Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South.

WW: In the book, you mention the story of a woman who was in Arkansas, a Japanese-American on furlough from an internment camp and seemingly surprised that she was being waved to sit at the front of the bus as opposed to the back of the bus.

LB: Yet you couldn’t say here’s an example in which Asians were being treated as white people, because then the question would be, “What does ‘whiteness’ mean if you are put in an internment camp?” So one of the parallels to that is a Japanese-American man, Nobu Honda, who gave testimony about what it means to be on furlough from the Army in World War II and traveling around the segregated south. He, too, had that experience of being invited to sit in the white person’s section of the bus at the same time he was serving in a segregated military unit.

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