George Takei and Susan H. Kamei in Conversation at Asian American Writers’ Workshop Event

AAWW and Strand Present: Susan H. Kamei & George Takei + Brandon Shimoda

Tuesday, December 7 from 7:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.


Admission: Free (Books available for purchase)

Join Asian Americans Writers’ Workshop and Strand as they present a virtual conversation with Susan H. Kamei and actor George Takei.

About This Event

Kamei and Takei will discuss their books When Can We Go Back To America?: Voices of Japanese American Incarceration During WWII and They Called Us Enemy as well as the effects of Japanese American incarceration during World War II. Poet and author Brandon Shimoda will moderate the conversation.

About When Can We Go Back To America?: Voices of Japanese American Incarceration During WWII

In this dramatic, page-turning narrative history of Japanese Americans before, during, and after their World War II incarceration, Susan H. Kamei weaves the voices of more than 130 individuals who lived through this tragic episode.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States government forcibly removed more than 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific Coast and imprisoned them in desolate detention camps until the end of World War II just because of their race.

In what Secretary Norman Y. Mineta describes as a “landmark book,” he and others who lived through this harrowing experience tell the story of their incarceration and the long-term impact of this dark period in American history. For the first time, why and how these tragic events took place are interwoven with these stores about those who were unconstitutionally incarcerated, many of them children and young adults.

Now more than ever, their words will resonate with readers who are confronting questions about racial identity, immigration, and citizenship, and what it means to be an American.

About They Called Us Enemy

The New York Times bestselling graphic memoir from actor/author/activist George Takei returns in a deluxe hardcover edition with bonus material. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon—and America itself—in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.

Now with sixteen pages of bonus content from Takei and his co-creators, They Called Us Enemy, features historical documents, scripts, sketches, and photos. There is also a new afterword plus a behind-the-scenes tour of the process of researching, writing, drawing, and promoting.

Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his magnetic performances, sharp wit, and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s—and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the terrors and small joys of childhood in the shadow of legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s tested faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

About The Grave on the Wall

A memoir and book of mourning, The Grave on the Wall is a grandson’s attempt to reconcile his own uncontested citizenship with his grandfather’s lifelong struggle.

Award-winning poet Brandon Shimoda has crafted a lyrical portrait of his paternal grandfather, Midori Shimoda, whose life—child migrant, talented photographer, suspected enemy alien and spy, desert wanderer, American citizen—mirrors the arc of Japanese America in the twentieth century. In a series of pilgrimages, Shimoda records the search to find his grandfather, and unfolds, in the process, a moving elegy on memory and forgetting.

About Susan H. Kamei

Susan H. Kamei received her JD from the Georgetown University Law Center. She teaches at the University of Southern California on the legal ramifications of the incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and how they apply to constitutional issues, civil liberties, and national security considerations today.

About George Takei

With an acting career spanning six decades, George Takei is known around the world for his founding role in the acclaimed television series Star Trek, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the starship Enterprise.

From a childhood spent with his family wrongfully imprisoned in Japanese American internment camps during World War II, to becoming one of the country’s leading figures in the fight for social justice, LGBTQ rights, and marriage equality, Takei remains a powerful voice on issues ranging from politics to pop culture. named Takei the #1 most-influential person on Facebook, with 10.4 million likes and 2.8 million followers on Twitter.

Takei has served as the spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign “Coming Out Project” and was Cultural Affairs Chairman of the Japanese American Citizens League. He is also chairman emeritus and a trustee of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. He was appointed to the Japan-US Friendship Commission by former President Clinton, and the government of Japan awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, for his contribution to US-Japanese relations. The decoration was conferred by His Majesty, Emperor Akihito, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

About Brandon Shimoda

Brandon Shimoda is a yonsei (fourth generation Japanese American) poet/writer. His books include The Grave on the Wall, which received the PEN Open Book Award, and Evening Oracle, which received the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. His forthcoming book on the afterlife of Japanese American incarceration received a Creative Nonfiction Grant from the Whiting Foundation. He lives with his family in Colorado, where he is an Assistant Professor of English at Colorado College.

About AAWW

The Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW) is devoted to creating, publishing, developing, and disseminating creative writing by Asian Americans. They provide an alternative literary arts space at the intersection of migration, race, and social justice. Since their founding in 1991, they have been dedicated to the belief that Asian American stories deserve to be told. At a time when migrants, women, people of color, Muslims, and LGBTQ people are specifically targeted, AAWW offers a new countercultural public space in which to imagine a more just future.

How to Purchase Tickets and Books

General admission tickets to the talk are free. You can purchase one or more books when you register at Strands’ Eventbrite page.