Robynn Takayama is a multimedia producer whose work has been presented through video, web, and gallery installation in San Francisco, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Robynn served on the board for the Association of Independents in Radio and on the CPB-funded Makers Quest Talent Committee, charged with finding the most imaginative producers, reporters, and sound artists and urging them to take public radio beyond its traditional airwaves.
This pseudonym refers to the 4,000+ Japanese American men in World War II internment camps who answered NO to two “loyalty” questions when the United States army decided to recruit men for the all-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team. These questions: 1) Are you willing to serve in the U.S. armed forces, and 2) Do you forswear allegiance to the Japanese Emperor, divided the community between those who believed we should prove our loyalty to the U.S. and the No-No boys.
Answering the questions were difficult. Why would they want to serve in an army after being forced to leave their homes and imprisoned in internment camps? Didn’t answer YES to the second question mean that you were indeed originally loyal to Japan?
While those who said “yes” were drafted into the army and went on to become the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the entire history of the U.S. Military, those who answered “no” were relocated once again to the Tule Lake internment camp. The Japanese American Citizens League and many others in the Nikkei community condemned the No-No Boys for tarnishing the JA image as loyal Americans. As the subsequent generation of Japanese Americans uncovered this history, the No-No boys were embraced for their political courage.
I turn to these early activists for my inspiration in media making.
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