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Raced to Death in 1920s Hawai i: Injustice and Revenge in the Fukunaga Case
by Jonathan Y Okamura
University of Illinois Press, 2019
Paper: 978-0-252-08443-0 | eISBN: 978-0-252-05144-9 | Cloth: 978-0-252-04260-7
Library of Congress Classification KF224.F85O39 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 345.969025230997

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
On September 18, 1928, Myles Yutaka Fukunaga kidnapped and brutally murdered ten-year-old George Gill Jamieson in Waikîkî. Fukunaga, a nineteen-year-old nisei, or second-generation Japanese American, confessed to the crime. Within three weeks, authorities had convicted him and sentenced him to hang, despite questions about Fukunaga's sanity and a deeply flawed defense by his court-appointed attorneys. Jonathan Y. Okamura argues that officials "raced" Fukunaga to death—first viewing the accused only as Japanese despite the law supposedly being colorblind, and then hurrying to satisfy the Haole (white) community's demand for revenge. Okamura sets the case against an analysis of the racial hierarchy that undergirded Hawai‘ian society, which was dominated by Haoles who saw themselves most threatened by the islands' sizable Japanese American community. The Fukunaga case and others like it in the 1920s reinforced Haole supremacy and maintained the racial boundary that separated Haoles from non-Haoles, particularly through racial injustice. As Okamura challenges the representation of Hawai i as a racial paradise, he reveals the ways Haoles usurped the criminal justice system and reevaluates the tense history of anti-Japanese racism in Hawai i.
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