Prof. Spickard draws double-takes at academic conferences - "What's the white guy doing here?" - but having grown up among the children of Japanese war brides in Seattle, the subject is second nature and he has written prolifically about race, ethnicity, and the Japanese-American community.
Even as a child, he noticed that war bride kids tended to be shut out of the Japanese-American community, whether it was not being eligible for Cherry Blossom Queen, or being excluded from Nisei sports leagues.
"The Japanese community in Seattle didn't want to have anything to do with war brides," he recalls.
But later, as traditional Japanese communities struggled to survive, "the irony is that war brides were the ones who held the Japanese-American community together," working as waitresses in Japanese restaurants, helping organize cultural festivals, caring for Japanese-American seniors." Yet even today, "the community doesn't want to recognize them."
This fraught relationship between the war brides and the larger Japanese-American community is a theme we will explore in our project.