|Me, Uncle Nacho and Grandma Yo
Full disclosure, Jiro Ignacio Palmieri aka "Uncle Nacho" is my younger brother. He's been involved audio, media, and radio for a few years now. He had a radio show in the San Francisco bay area on KPOO radio. Now he hosts the Uncle Nacho podcast, which "examines the intersections between sports, politics, art, and culture." The interview is a great overview of how I came to lead An Interdisciplinary Life and what that's meant for me. It's sort of this whole site here compressed into an hour of story telling. So if you've enjoyed reading IDL think of this as IDL on the go, a chance to get your Berto time and also do dishes.
This is part one of our interview. In this episode I talk about going to elementary school as a vagabond in Europe for a year and comparing it to American public schools. We discuss racial identity, how flipping over a white water raft full of Deaf kids led me to a career as an interpreter, my dad teaching me how to make a zip gun, and the creation of "Your Mom is So Berkeley." We also touch on alternative educational paths, growing up with a single mother, and a Berkeley High School legacy I had totally forgotten about. Within all of that we do indeed intertwine sports, arts, and culture.
There was a question that came up about how my family ended up in Chicago. I asked the branch of the family that stayed in Chicago and got a great response relating to Japanese American history. From my cousins Midori, Vince, and Rea who are all amazing artists and writers. The block below is edited together from their responses to my question.
Thanks for reading and listening. If you have any other unresolved questions from the interview let me know in the comments. I'll post the second part of the interview when it becomes available.
Because jobs and housing weren't available to Japanese Americans post WWII on the west coast a Japanese community developed in Chicago around that time probably to support each other. Vince and his wife were in Hattiesburg Mississippi and they heard there was more work in Chicago for JAs (editor’s note: Vince is my grandma Yoshiko’s brother). Also, the American government had already taken our family’s home and real estate. They came up and settled in Hyde Park/South Side along with many other friends from camp and Hattiesburg. Hattiesburg was the home of the 442nd all Japanese Battalion. I'm not sure what Vince's first job was in Chicago before he became photo editor at Playboy. He only moved back to California once his job made that available to him. Yoshiko must have joined them at some point.The folks who ran the camps were mostly liberal, though their good intentions generally did as much harm as good. They had an idea that you could solve racism by sending JAs out of camps into areas away from the West Coast, a few at a time and that they'd be accepted and assimilated if they kept apart from other JAs. This was obviously a terrible idea because (1) segregation wasn't a choice and (2) you try living among people who hate you without allies. So, there were serious programs to resettle folks out of camp, but the ones who left had to create new communities. The largest migration was to Chicago, which was possibly the most important JA city for a couple of years after the war, before everyone who hadn't made a stake there pretty much decided to go back to the West Coast. I think Larry's (another of Yoshiko’s brothers) JACL ties also meant a lot--there were some serious divisions among JAs about how to respond to incarceration and I suspect going to Chicago probably said something about you/your family.