Last week, we ended with CSULA Dean of Natural and Social Sciences Dr. Francisco Balderrama recounting the ordeal of the late Mexican Repatriation survivor Ignacio Pina….
Balderrama then ended his talk on an uplifting note as stated that fifth graders at Bell Gardens Elementary School successfully petitioned, testified and lobbied to get AB-146 passed by the California State Legislature. AB-146 encourages and allows the materials/time needed for all willing California history teachers to incorporate lessons of the Mexican repatriation in their curriculum. After Balderrama’s talk, De Anza professor and Japanese American Museum docent Tom Izzo spoke about a solidarity demonstration planned for February 19, 2017, exactly 75 years after Executive Order 9066 (which caused the internment of over 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II) was signed into effect.
Izzo then introduced the final speakers of the evening, De Anza students Brenda Pantoja and Anissa Chaudry. Pantoja recalled being brought to the United States undocumented at just six months old and testified about her struggles to earn a degree in business and to advocate for the rights of other undocumented Americans. Chaudry spoke about her lifelong battle with anti-Muslim rhetoric and hysteria and in the end all four speakers ultimately related their respective experiences/subjects to the nation’s current political climate with the Trump administration in place.
“It’s time for all Americans to realize that we share very traumatic experiences with all forms of discrimination and injustice,” says Balderrama. “History never repeats itself, but certain aspects from the past get reused, without question” as Balderrama commented on linking Executive Order 9066 and the Mexican repatriation to Trump’s discriminatory agenda in 2017. “The one thing these survivors always tell me is that they never want this to happen to anyone again. They never say ‘I don’t want this to happen to another Mexican’ or ‘I don’t want this to happen to another Japanese person’ but the bottom line is that no survivor wants this to happen to any human being ever again.”