I’m happy to be blogging for JI on a more permanent basis. I have always enjoyed being a token “model-minority” in Mormon country:)
I thought it might be interesting to post some the words of Japanese Americans used when dealing with Mormonism. Some of these quotations come from oral interviews and probably represent the Nikkei’s long-standing relationship with the the area’s dominant religion as well as their perceptions of history, while the other addresses how Japanese American ethnicity and Mormonism interacted historically. If you like this first set of sources, maybe I’ll do a post with more of them.
The first snippet comes from an oral interview done by Sandra Fuller in 1984 with Alice Kasai who was a prominent leader of the Salt Lake City chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. In answering the question about whether her children ever wanted to join the Mormon faith.
No, but I can tell you that they didn’t like the answer they got from their Mormon friends when they were told that they were yellow because they were really half-baked. Yes, that was a new one to me. That God and the Devil had a war and the white people were on God’s side and the black people were on the Devil’s side and the yellow people were half-baked because they were fence sitters. 
I wonder if she was projecting Mormon folklore about African Americans onto herself as a non-Mormon Asian or if some Mormons easily transferred racist folklore onto other racialized bodies.
The second taste comes from an editorial in the English section of the Utah Nippo giving advice to Japanese Americans leaving the internment camps to work in Utah. Although I don’t know if this particular author was Mormon or not, I am fascinated by the allusion to Mormon culture.
Once an evacuee has decided that ‘This Is the Place’ for himself and his family, if he has the courage and determination, he will be able to start a new life for his family. The thousands who have gone out have proven that resettlement is not impossible. Dreaming of 1941 and pre-evacuation days is not going to earn our bread and butter. If we study the history of various persecuted groups, we find that those who did not survive the trials and tribulations invariably did not have the courage.
We must be thankful that at east thousands of Issei and Nisei had the adventuresome spirit and were bold enough to get out of the relocation centers to start anew. They are the ones who will be prepared to face the post-war era with a better foundation. 
I wonder what Brother Brigham would think about this use of his words.
The last sample comes from Shake Ushio, another leader of the Salt Lake City JACL during World War II. This quotation comes from an interview with Sandra Fuller in 1984. It seems that it makes a big difference whether you are an insider or outsider when addressing Mormonism from an ethnic perspective. When asked about his opinion that Mormons tolerated Japanese Americans more easily than other groups, Ushio replied:
Well, Mormon background may have something to do with that. Mormons themselves were a persecuted people, see. And they understood what it means to be unjustly persecuted. That doesn’t mean that all the Mormons were for us, you know. But by and large, they understood. I can remember all during that time for about 2 years we’d have sponsors and I and two or three other members of the Mormon Church, we’d go and speak sacrament services about twice a month. We’d get invitations all over the town and up in Ogden. And all over. And the gist of our message was that we were being unjustly dealt with. We are also God’s children. That this is the situation, to let you know what’s happening. And we got invitations from all over because congregations were interested in what’s happening. They’re interested in Japanese Americans because it’s always in the news, you know, during the wartime. And they were really impressed with the message we brought them. And I think that–that helped in creating a climate that’s of acceptance for us. 
It would be nice to have speakers on racial acceptance in Sacrament Meetings today.
I have my own opinions about the above statements, but I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks.
 Alice Kasai, interviewed by Sandra Fuller, 25 October 1984, Box 1, Folder 13, transcript, Interviews with Japanese in Utah Collection, Accn 1209, University of Utah Special Collections, Salt Lake City, 33-34.
 “Observation Post,” Utah Nippo, 29 March 1945, English Section.
 Shake Ushio, interviewed by Sandra Fuller, 7 February, 1984, Box 4, Folder 5, transcript, Interviews with Japanese in Utah Collection, Accn 1209, University of Utah Special Collections, Salt Lake City, 2:18-19