Friday, August 10, 2012


Editor's Note: I'm bypassing TGIF Tunes today to share the lyrics to a song that is a lead-in to a piece I've been writing for several weeks. There are numerous videos available on YouTube for this song, but I thought the lyrics truly spoke loudest and were best presented in simple black and white. Look for a piece on Japanese internment in the days to come.
Kenjiby Fort Minor
My father came from Japan in 1905He was, 15 when he immigrated from JapanHe, he, he worked until he was able to buy this patchAnd build a store
Let me, tell you the story in the form of a dreamI don't know why I have to tell it, but I know what it meansClose your eyes, just picture the sceneAs I paint it for you, it was World War IIWhen this man named Kenji woke upKen was not a soldierHe was just a man, with a family, who owned a store in L.A.
That day, he crawled out of bed like he always didBacon and eggs with wife and kidsHe lived on the second floor of a little store, he ranHe moved to L.A. from JapanThey called him 'Immigrant'In Japanese, he'd say, he was called, EsayThat meant 'First generation in the United States'
When everyone was afraid of the Germans, afraid of the JapsBut most of all afraid of a homeland attackAnd that morning when Ken went out on the doormatHis world went black 'causeRight there, front page news, three weeks before 1942"Pearl Harbour's been bombed and the Japs are comin'"
Pictures of soldiers dyin' and runnin'Ken knew what it would lead toJust like he guessed, the President said"The evil Japanese in our home country will be locked away"They gave Ken, a couple of daysTo get his whole life packed in two bagsJust two bags, couldn't even pack his clothes
Some folks didn't even have a suitcase, to pack anything inSo two trash bags, was all they gave themWhen the kids asked mum, "Where are we goin'?"Nobody even knew, what to say to themKen didn't wanna lie, he said, "The US is lookin' for spiesSo we have to live in a place called MandinarWhere a lot of Japanese people are"
Stop it, don't look at the gunmenYou don't wanna get the soldiers wonderin'If you gonna run or not,'Cause if you run then you might get shotOther than that, try not to think about itTry not to worry 'bout it bein' so crowdedSomeday, we'll get out, someday, someday
As soon as war broke outThe G.I. came and they just come to the houseAnd you have to come all the Japanese have to goThey took Mr.Lee, people didn't understandWhy did they have to take him?Because he's an innocent labor
So now, they're in a town with soldiers surroundin' themEvery day, every night, look down at themFrom watch towers up on the wallKen couldn't really hate them at allThey were just doin' their job andHe wasn't gonna make any problems
He had a little garden, with vegetables and fruits thatHe gave to the troops in a basket his wife madeBut in the back of his mind, he wanted his families life savedPrisoners of war in their own damn country, what for?Time passed in the prison town
He wanted them to live it down when they were freeThe only way out was, joinin' the armyAnd supposedly, some men went out for the army, signed onAnd ended up flyin' to Japan with a bombThat 15 kilotonne blast, put an end to the war pretty fastTwo cities were blown to bits, the end of the war came quick
Ken got out, big hopes of a normal life, with his kids and his wifeBut, when they got back to their homeWhat they saw made them feel so aloneThese people had trashed every roomSmashed in the windows and bashed in the doorsWritten on the walls and the floor 'Japs not welcome anymore'
And Kenji dropped both of his bags at his sides and just stood outside
He, looked at his wife without words to say
She looked back at him, wiped the tears away
And, said, "Someday, we'll be okay, someday"
Now, the names have been changed, but the story's true

My family was locked up back in '42
My family was there it was dark and damp
And they called it, an internment camp

When we first got back from camp, uhh
It was pretty, pretty bad, I, I remember my husband said
"Are we gonna stay 'til last?"
Then my husband died before they close the camp

© Mike Shinoda, 2005

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