How to handle prejudice

When “prejudice” calls, what do you do? A long-time neighbor called the other day, spouting off a list of complaints about Fallbrook and California – high water bill, high taxes, nothing of interest in town, illegal immigrants, etc. She insisted that Fallbrook is unsafe; not a nice town. Her dissatisfaction was so strong that I suggested she move out of the area so as not to waste her life here. She mentioned some states that would be “better” than California.

In response to one, I commented “I heard that several white supremacist groups live there.” Her comment back “I think that I would like that. Yes, I think that I really would like that.” What a slap in the face! My neighbor is white, a U.S. military vet. I’m a fourth generation Japanese-American, born and raised in California. My father, born in Hawaii, served in the U.S. Army as did many family members and friends. Japanese-Americans who lived through the alienation and prejudice after Pearl Harbor.

I said “Really? I’ve had to deal with prejudice since I was a kid and it’s not fun.” No apology from the neighbor. Nothing. The next time she calls, I hope that I respond with grace; not anger. If I don’t than I am no better than she and have learned nothing from the generation before me.

Amy Braccio

30 Responses to "How to handle prejudice"

  1. Ray (the real one)   August 14, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Amy, she is correct. Listen to her

  2. Ray (the real one)   August 15, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Amy: Correction, no white sups live in Fallbrook. Metzger moved to Indiana over (8) years ago.

  3. Liveoakparker   August 15, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Amy, Ray is correct. Listen to him

  4. Mike W   August 15, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Great letter Amy, two things you have to realize, California is home to more racist organizations than most other states, shocking and despicable, but true. And, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, most people who are prejudice have a brain the size of a pea and unfortunately their life’s lessons in that regard have not come yet.

    PS Don’t listen to the above comments, California is a great state to live in and it would be a lot better if the complainers and bigots would go home.

  5. Ray (the real one)   August 15, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Amy states in her op-ed. Friend says other states might be better (not exact words). My suggestion is move to a state where the only thing picked are noses.

  6. Ray (the real one)   August 15, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Look…. Common sense, we are not getting the quality of immigrants other nations receive, doctors, lawyers, ,engineers,we get breeders, dependent on social services and gang bangers.

    Anyone who says "we do not have a problem" like some folks, see above, are fools or blind

  7. Amy Braccio   August 15, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    To Ray (the real one): What is my neighbor correct about? All of the negative things about Fallbrook & California? I agree about taxes, utility bills & that there are problems with illegal immigration, but all cities and states in the U.S. have problems of some kind. My glasses aren’t so rose-tinted that I see everything as being wonderful. The problems are real, but that’s only half of the reality of life here in Fallbrook & California. There are many great people & places in this town & state. If you don’t look at the whole picture than you really aren’t being realistic. I think the same could be said for all cities and all states in the U.S. Life is what you make it. If you want to just look at the negative than that is what life will be like no matter what city/state you live in.
    As far as the subject of white supremacists – I never said that there were any in Fallbrook. I don’t know if you were suggesting that my neighbor is upset that there are none in Fallbrook or that she would be happy living with them somewhere else(?). I don’t believe that my neighbor is a white supremacist. But her thoughtless remark seems to show a certain underlying (unconscious?) belief that any person that is non-white is the cause of all the problems in Fallbrook & California and that we have nothing positive or of value to justify our existence. At the time of our conversation, the manner in which it was said felt disrespectful & offensive. Maybe she was just upset & frustrated. She has been that many times. But enthusing over the idea of living with white supremacists (prejudice+hate) who would look at me, an Asian, as a non-equal – that hurt me more than I was willing to admit at the time.

    To Mike W: Thanks for the encouragement! I too believe that California is a great state to live in. It’s not always easy, but that’s life.

    I wrote my letter in hopes that maybe other people might listen more closely to what they say and how they say it. I know that I still have lots of work to do on myself! Prejudice lives amongst us every day. It’s a problem with all nations. If we can’t get a handle on it in our own homes & neighborhoods than how do we expect to have peace, trust & mutual respect with the rest of the world?

  8. grunt   August 15, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Amy, it is not prejudice to be against illegal immigrants. Your friend may not have been in favor of the white supremacist groups, just the culture of the area (I am thinking Idaho?) low crime, low taxes, low illegal immigration problems. And your neighbor was not one who was prejudiced against you, so why should she apologize? True, many Japanese-Americans who served (Dan Inouye for one) was mistreated when they returned from combat; but again only those that did the mistreatment should apologize and then to those that were mistreated.

  9. Ray (the real one)   August 16, 2014 at 7:52 am


    Not prejudice but freedom of choice. No shoes, no shirt, no service…

  10. Joe Naiman   August 16, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Amy – one of the old-timers told me that in the 1950s a black janitor spread the word that Fallbrook was prejudiced so that the blacks wouldn’t come in and take business from him.

    It’s true that white supremacist leader Tom Metzger once lived in Fallbrook, but saying that everyone in Fallbrook is racist just because one prominent example is would be like saying that all newspaper reporters are allergic to kryptonite.

    Now let me reveal that I have voting privileges for the Rodeo Hall of Fame and I’m aware of Sam Garrett’s contributions to making Bill Pickett one of the early inductees. The Rodeo Hall of Fame is associated with the Rodeo Historical Society and honorees are recognized at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City; the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame is associated with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and is located in the same building as the PRCA administrative headquarters in Colorado Springs. Bill Pickett, a black cowboy credited with developing Steer Wrestling, is in both halls of fame and was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame before the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame existed. Sam Garrett, who lived in Fallbrook for the final years of his 96-year life, was born in 1892 and died in 1989. It was his confirmation of Bill Pickett’s achievements which were credited with putting Bill Pickett into the Rodeo Hall of Fame, and thus establishing the achievements which later placed Bill Pickett into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.

    It should also be known that Fallbrook High School’s athletic teams are known as the Warriors not to demean American Indians but rather to honor the Pala tribal members who contributed to Fallbrook athletics as well as the rest of the community.

    There are people with white supremacist opinions in Fallbrook, but there are also notable examples to the contrary.

  11. Amy Braccio   August 17, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    To Grunt: The reason why I expected an apology from my neighbor is because I told her that what she said upset me because the way it was said sounded prejudiced & I explained why to her. I know that she is entitled to her own belief & opinion and I respect that right. I felt that her comment was thoughtless & in poor taste. It wasn’t the low crime, low taxes, low illegal immigration problem. It was the phrase “white supremacist groups”. She doesn’t know anything else about the other state. (It’s kind of like if I made some mean comments about fat people and then said that I wanted to move someplace where everyone is thin & beautiful and people care about each other. What if I made this comment to a neighbor who is suffering from obesity and has had several facial surgeries to correct the injuries of an accident? Also, what if this neighbor always helped me when I called for help & always looked out for my welfare? Don’t you think that I should apologize to that person? Especially if they told me that they felt insulted?). We all have the right to say what we want, but I still believe that how we say something should also be kept in mind.
    Also, I didn’t say that it was prejudiced to be against illegal immigrants. Illegal immigration has been a problem for a very long time for the U.S. It doesn’t matter where the country of origin. There is no fast & easy fix for it without upsetting people.

    To Joe Naiman: I hope that you did not misread or misinterpret what I wrote earlier. I have NEVER said that “everyone (or anyone) in Fallbrook is racist”. If you had been present during the conversation with my neighbor, you would have heard me saying that I like living in Fallbrook and that any problems here I have also seen present in other areas of California. I think that, yes Fallbrook does have problems, but unlike my neighbor, I also see all of the nice people living here, running their businesses, caring for their families and doing what they can to make this town a great place. I’ve tried to convince my neighbor that there are many wonderful things to do, places to visit & shop and people to be friends with in this town, but she is so focused on the negative that she doesn’t even want to try and see the positive. Her belief seemed to be that if she moved someplace that was all white it would solve all her problems.
    Your example of the FHS’s Warriors is a good example of how “the manner” in which something is used or said makes all the difference.

    Again, my intent in writing my initial letter was just to point out how a seemingly simple, inoffensive comment can in reality not be so simple. Prejudice comes in all forms and sometimes we aren’t even aware of our own prejudices. I am guilty of that. I just hope that I eventually work more towards the positive than the negative.

  12. Carrie   August 18, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Wow, there are a lot of horrible people commenting here. Amy, I’m sorry your neighbor is so full of hate, and I hope you can live by example with grace and dignity when next you converse with them. Maybe your kindness can soften a hateful heart.

  13. grunt   August 18, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Amy your response better explains why you expected an apology – but, just because one "upsets" another, does that person really owe an apology? I re-read the Constitution; we do NOT have the right to "not be offended". I think you should look at it as the neighbor respects you enough to talk "turkey" with you; accepts you NOT as a minority but someone she feels comfortable speaking her mind to; would you rather she only speak PC and never really be a neighbor to you? And, are "white supremacist groups" more of a problem to her than Mexican Gangs? Maybe her perception of them is different than yours; maybe she sees the "Minute Men" where you see "W.A.R." when you said it.

  14. grunt   August 18, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Carrie – "lot of horrible people commenting" here – 5 people, (not counting you and Amy) one of whom agreed with her, commented Please tell me what I, Liveoaker, Mike or Ray said that labels us "horrible"? Having a different opinion and engaging in civil debate should not result in being labeled "horrible". 🙂

  15. Jon Monday   August 18, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    I see the lesson here that most people who say racist things, don’t realize they are, in fact, racist. That’s the most charitable lesson I can take from Amy’s story. The only other way to take it is that some people are racist, and don’t care who knows it – even if the person is a minority, and has likely been the victim of racism.

    I’m a fourth generation SF Bay Area native, and knew many Japanese-Americans who were subjected to being imprisoned in the camps and/or subjected to the same kind of hatred and bigotry as the blacks in the south, or Hispanic peoples now.

    Bigotry and hatred are never an excusable or defensible position. Love and empathy should take over.

  16. Pink   August 18, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I abhor racism, no matter what guise it takes, and it is not always so called "whites" who have racist points of view. I have a Chinese American friend who was upset because her daughter married a man of Japanese heritage. I also have a Hispanic friend who was not happy about her son marrying outside their race. Unfortunately I have come across white bigots far too many times to count as well as African American bigots , and the list goes on. We are ALL created equal in the eyes of our Creator, He loves us all equally.

  17. grunt   August 18, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Jon, very true; what is interesting thought is that while Japan attacked the US and provided ignorant people with a "good" reason to hate them; the Japanese Americans, instead of accepting the status of second class citizen and proclaiming racism, overcame that, they worked hard, educated their children and became welcomed and accepted members of the community. The injustice of the camps, while still fresh in many Japanese or Japanese-Americas minds, many know fathers or grandfathers would were in one, is never used as a excuse; maybe in their households it was used as a challenge, I do not know, but within one generation they have put that behind them and become our valedictorians, our judges, our PhDs, and yes, our average house wives, what they are not is putting less into America than they take out.

  18. Ray (the real one)   August 19, 2014 at 8:15 am

    A saytng that everyone should take seriously. Half the population will like you, the other half will not, that is just the way it goes, it’a a fact of life.

    You can’t legislate life and what people feel, not going to happen anytime soon. Everybody has the right as long as it does not cause harm to another, fine by me.

    If I owned a business, I have the right to hire as I please, this goes for everything else in life. Some people just don’t like a certain group like Asians, Korea, Viet Nam, Some might not Arabs, Gulf Wars, Blacks, watch the news, Hispanics, the list is long.

    That is what life is all about, live with it.

  19. Ray (the real one)   August 19, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Monday…. Monday:

    San Francisco, explains a lot.

  20. Ray (the real one)   August 20, 2014 at 9:57 am

    How can ANYONE use the internment camps of the 1940’s to prejudice. This country was at war, America was attacked, many died and the fear of spies which did happen prior to Pearlb Harbor and the internment camps were Japanese spies. I have no problem with our country and the actions it took to save Americans.

  21. Mike W   August 20, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    My experience living on Maui during the late 60’s and mid 70’s taught me about prejudice because there are many different races living together on one pebble in the middle of the Pacific, Hawaiian, Philipino, Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese. I found they were all mildly prejudice against the other but it never got above a whisper because there was a lot of mutual respect and they all had at least one commonality, they were all islanders, as apposed to white (Haole) Being a haole was, in essence like being a black man in Georgia in the 40’s and 50’s, especially when it came to the Hippie haoli while blacks, also from the mainland, were more readily accepted by locals. Hippies were often beat up and a few girls raped, although I never had a problem, even though I had a beard and long hair, I was a cleaner version of the hippies of those days when most of us lived on the beach but mostly because I usually has my two small kids (Keiki) in tow. As it turned out they, the keikis, were the key that opened the door to many good friendships because they all love kids. So the locals were friendly to me but never really completely trusting because I was "Different". I once saw a fight between two local guys and asked one of the spectators why they were fighting and he said, " The guy in the shirt is from Hana side, the other side (of the island) and it was then it all came together because I noticed that the locals that were the most genuinely friendly and easiest to get along with were those who left the island and were, for a time, a stranger in a strange land, (the outsider) and then returned to the island.

    Prejudice, in its many and varied forms, comes from lack of experience in a world where our differences are easier to see than our commonality and venues like Fox news feeds off of and promotes prejudice as if it’s their life’s goal

  22. Pink   August 20, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    I understand that we cannot Monday morning quarterback the terrible decisions that were made in the past, but the Japanese who were interred during WWII were, for the most part, American citizens!! Their land was confiscated and they were thrown into camps simply because they were Japanese, why didn’t we throw German and Italian Americans into camps as well? I think what happened was wrong no matter what the reasoning behind it. My mother always told me that it was a horrible thing to do, but that because of Pearl Harbor, anger against all Japanese was at fever pitch and it was done for their safety as well as ours. All I can say is that I hope and pray we learn from our past mistakes.

  23. grunt   August 20, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Ray, there were more German spies than Japanese, I do not recall hearing of any Japanese-Americans arrested for, much less spying (not saying there were not – please advise if I am wrong). These people, most of them citizens of the US were denied property rights, had their possessions stolen. Many of the young men went and fought Hitler, yet their parents were in the Camps. Now having said that, I was not around at that time, so I am sure hysteria had a lot to play in it; but looking back, it was discriminatory and based on racial prejudice.

  24. Amy Braccio   August 20, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    To Pink: It’s true what you wrote about it not just being "whites" being prejudiced. I have known Japanese who only want their children to marry Japanese with the reasoning that Japanese "are better". I have a Chinese friend who seems to be prejudiced against Mexicans. A black friend told me that even some of her black friends were prejudiced against darker or lighter black people. Instead of seeing the physical differences in each of us, it’s too bad that we can’t focus more on the true inner spirit of one another. Fortunately, my parents raised me to believe, like you, that we are ALL created equal in the eyes of our Creator.

    Re Comment #20: The Japanese Americans that I know understand the reason(s) why the Japanese internment camps were created. And as Grunt points out (#17) they used those reasons as an opportunity to prove their loyalty to their country – The United States of America. Ray, you probably already know about these groups, but for those who don’t, the 100TH INFANTRY BATTALION and the 442ND REGIMENTAL COMBAT TEAM were made up primarily of 2nd generation Japanese Americans. Many of them had already been part of the U.S. military prior to Pearl Harbor and had to fight for their right to continue fighting for the United States. To learn more about them you can check out the websites:

    For all of the people who have commented here, I appreciate your insights. Even if you disagree with what I have written, you have given me the opportunity to hear other points of view and learn from them. As Grunt commented, "… having a different opinion and engaging in civil debate…". We are fortunate to live in a country where we are able to do as such.

  25. Ray (the real one)   August 20, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Grunt…. Look more.

    Pink ISIS has Americans within it’s ranks, nothing beyond the possible.

  26. Pink   August 21, 2014 at 8:59 am

    @Ray: I understand that there are traitors among us, but to inter American citizens simply because they may be guilty of something goes against the very foundation on which our country was formed. Innocent until proven guilty, remember?

  27. grunt   August 21, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Ray – if you can cite one please do. I have not found any Japanese – American spies. Only found one Japanese spy in Hawaii -not a Japanese American or even Japanese living in America- he was a Imperial Japanese Naval Officer. Their was rumored to be a few white Americans who provided information to Japan, but again they were not Japanese-Americans.

  28. Ray (the real one)   August 21, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Never mentioned "traitor’" Pink.

  29. Pink   August 21, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    O….K… Ray, what would YOU call an American citizen who spied on us for our enemies? What would YOU call an American citizen who joins ISIS? I believe traitor is the correct word.

  30. Terry Leather   August 21, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Take comfort in knowing that no matter how bad things get, you will never feel worse than someone crying in a Walmart McDonald’s.


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