This summer, I created a historical minicomic. My comic is a brief biography of George Shima, Japanese American farming king of California and the first Japanese American millionaire. He was a Japanese immigrant to America during the early 1900s. With hard work and innovation, he became a successful potato farmer, even growing 85% of California’s potatoes at one point in his life. Shima also led one of the largest land reclamation projects in California. Shima, for everything he achieved, experienced significant discrimination and racism in his life, including the Alien Land Law 1913, which stripped Japanese immigrants, or “aliens ineligible for citizenship” of the right to own land. He truly transformed and advanced the potato industry in California during his time. His story has been largely forgotten in American history and academia, but it is an important one to be remembered. This comic intends to illustrate how an immigrant to this country despite systemic racism was able to make great contributions to American agriculture.
When people think of American history, stories of Asian Americans are often under represented and unknown to the broad public. How we think of our history influences our view of ourselves and our identity as a nation today. Shima’s story is especially relevant in this anti-immigrant political climate. Shima epitomizes how immigrants can work so hard and make groundbreaking contributions to America yet never be recognized for their worth simply because of their race.
I have attached the first few pages of my minicomic to this blog post, but the full comic is on my website. Here is a link to my completed webcomic.