Living in America
Living in America
Witnesses at the 2012 trial in Ohio of a former airman convicted of beating his Okinawan wife to death testified that he had often battered her. The case exemplified the isolation of wives who arrive with no acquaintances in the U.S. besides their husbands, and cannot overcome the language barrier to make other contacts. Isolation also results from the individualistic nature of American society. Interviewees accustomed to close relationships with relatives and neighbours typical in Okinawa were surprised that in the U.S. “neighbours don’t even speak to each other.” Many suffered from homesickness. However, one expressed her gratitude for the close friendship and support of an American woman next door who guided her to the supermarket and post office, teaching her the essentials for daily life. Several encountered racial discrimination in employment, marriage (before 1967), and the bullying of their children in school. Some women had been apprehensive about coming to the U.S. where Japanese Americans were interned during World War II and anti-Japanese hostility persisted afterwards. Those whose husbands were still in the military had free family health care and discount shopping, but had to endure their husbands’ long absences, and deployments to areas of conflict.
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