Members of the Grateful Crane Ensemble will be traveling to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich., on Friday, Sept. 8, to perform “The Camp Dance: The Music and the Memories” and to participate in a national discussion about the Japanese American incarceration and how that relates to a Muslim ban.
“As Japanese Americans, we understand and empathize with what Muslim Americans are going through when it comes to talk of a ‘Muslim ban,’” said Soji Kashiwagi, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Grateful Crane Ensemble. “During World War II, 120,000 Japanese Americans were banned from the West Coast, forcibly removed from our homes, and hauled off to these ten camps located in the badlands of America. We do not want to see this happen again.”
“The Camp Dance” tells the story of when for over three years young Japanese Americans held high school dances behind barbed-wire fences. Featuring entertaining vignettes from the floor of the camp dances and the singing of popular swing and Big Band tunes, “Camp Dance” shows how young Americans made the best of a bad situation by dancing to the music of the 1940s.
Part of the Arab American National Museum’s “Global Fridays” program, the performance will be preceded by a 9/11 anniversary town hall meeting entitled “Executive Orders — Japanese Internment and the Muslim Ban.”
Kashiwagi and Grateful Crane performer Darrell Kunitomi will be speaking on the panel along with a local Japanese American camp survivor and two leaders from the Muslim American community.
“When 9/11 happened and there was talk of putting Muslim Americans in camps, our community was the first to step up and say no to that idea,” said Kashiwagi. “In today’s current climate, the talk of ‘banning’ and incarcerating Muslims is back again, and we feel it’s our responsibility to share our stories, and stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans against unjust scapegoating and hate.”
In addition to Kunitomi, the cast of “Camp Dance” includes Jason Fong, Haruye Ioka, Keiko Kawashima and Kurt Kuniyoshi. Grateful Crane’s musical director, Scott Nagatani, will accompany the group on keyboards.
The event is presented in partnership with the Japanese American Citizens League, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, ACLU, CAIR, MuslimARC, ACCESS’ Campaign to TAKE ON HATE, Bank Suey, Wayne State University’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights and its Detroit Equity Action Lab.
The Arab American National Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI 48121. For more information and to make reservations, call Kathryn Grabowski at (313) 624-0208.