Abstract

Although disability history has made progress in including excluded groups, such as LGBTQIA, BIPOC, and women, it continues to be dominated by white men. Asian Americans have only recently been included, and Asian American disability history has not yet highlighted Japanese Americans. Archives and institutions specializing in disability history center whites, and institutions specializing in Japanese American history overlook disability.

Blind and especially Deaf people form the core of existing Japanese American disability history, while physically and especially intellectually disabled people are talked about, rather than sharing their experiences. Military history focuses on able-bodied Japanese American men, despite the large number of Japanese Americans wounded (and possibly disabled) in combat. Disabled Japanese Americans also broke racial, gender, and other barriers, and campaigned for civil rights and redress. But there were also ordinary people. All of them lived and continue to live in a racist, ableist society that erases Asian Americans and disabled people, and especially disabled Asian Americans. According to the Census Bureau, about 1.4 million Asians and Pacific Islanders in America identify as being disabled. It is important that disabled Japanese Americans’ stories and contributions become a valuable part of the Asian American experience.1

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