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Kristi Yamaguchi

(Olympic Gold Medalist/Figure Skater)

yamaguchi-hpthumb1Athlete, artist, mother, wife, philanthropist – Kristi Yamaguchi’s accomplishments prove that with hard work and dedication, dreams can come true. Born in Hayward, California in 1971, Kristi started ice-skating at the age of six. By the early 1990s, she had earned victories at the most highly regarded domestic and international competitions, including the 1992 Winter Olympics and World Championships in 1991 and 1992. Kristi then embarked on a successful professional career, touring with Stars on Ice and winning numerous competitions. In 1996, she founded the Always Dream Foundation in support of children’s organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has authored two books, “Figure Skating for Dummies” and “Kristi Yamaguchi, Always Dream,” and was inducted to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1998 and to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame the following year. Kristi served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City and received the prestigious Thurman Munson Award in 2008 for excellence in competition and philanthropy. Recently, Kristi returned to competitive performance with a victory in the sixth season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.

Yamaguchi’s heritage can be traced back to the Wakayama and Saga prefectures in Japan. Kristi’s paternal grandfather, Tatsuichi Yamaguchi, immigrated to Hawaii in 1899, making his way to the United States a few years later. Over a span of five decades, he persevered time and time again, living through the changing restrictions on immigrants from Japan. He finally was able to naturalize just four years before his death. During World War II, most Japanese-Americans served in the segregated, all Japanese-American, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. But Kristi’s maternal grandfather, George Akira Doi, served in the 100th Infantry Division, an otherwise all-white unit. He saw combat in Europe and was decorated as “unquestionably the company’s best soldier,” even as his wife and family spent the war years incarcerated in concentration camps.

  • linda

    amazing history, and as so many minority women have before her, sad to see that she has bought into the idea that lighter hair, fake contacts makes her more beautiful

  • Laurence Jacobs

    “his wife and family spent the war years incarcerated in concentration camps.” ????

    Grossly inaccurate and a belittling of what the true victims of concentration camps suffered. People of Japanese descent were put in INTERNMENT camps. They were simply held there for the duration — an outrage to be sure. But there were no gassing ovens, no crematoria, no summary executions, no starving to death, no torture, no horrific medical experiments conducted without anesthesia.

    To call one by the name of the other is to call a death by torture a time-out.

  • Pat Walsh

    Mr. Jacobs,
    Have you actually seen one of these camps? Do you know many almost froze to death and others did die of pneumonia, flu at the camp on Lake Ontario? No, not as horrible as European concentration camps, but still a denial of human rights, and many of them United States citizens. It’s not something our country can be proud of doing.

  • jason

    I don’t think calling them concentration camps belittles the incredible loss in Nazi concentration camps. Although Japanese were not intentional killed many died of cold and hunger especially the weak, young, and old. I think the experience might differ in degree the injustice is analagous.

  • Sam Adams

    It is no misnomer to call the euphemistically labeled “relocation centers” or “internment camps”, into which dispossessed U.S. citizens and legal residents of Japanese Ancestry were herded and imprisoned during World War II, “concentration camps”. The term probably was first used during the South-African Boer War to describe the harsh internment centers in which the British confined over 100,000 Boer civilians and their black African employees. Such measures, however, have been taken throughout history, around the world. While the Nazi extermination camps are undoubtedly modern history’s most monstrous examples of “concentration camps”, that does not negate the fact that where Japanese-Americans were incarcerated during the Second World War were any less concentration camps.

  • Alleen

    Kristi is a kind person, that is talented and certainly a great representative for the sport. I was proud of her representing America in the Olympics, and winnign the gold medal. She is not self-centered like some skaters. I think that she is a great skater, and a wonderful person.

  • Eric

    two things:

    1. I do not see any contacts on her. To me her eye color looks the same as Mr. Gates.
    2. Yes, sure everyone who dyes their hair is trying to change something. But we need not infer that they are trying to be white.

    Give her a break, please. She seems pretty confident in who she is and proud of her heritage.

  • blacklight

    My Chinese adoptive sister’s daughter is full Chinese – and dyes her hair blonde. The young lady is a nursing student and quite self-assured. The fact that she sports blonde hair made it easy for the security staff of the Bronx zoo to track her down when she went off on her own in a driving summer rain and we lost her somewhere in the zoo :)

  • LMN

    Mr. Jacobs.. What do you call a situation where you are forced from your home. can take only 1 suitcase. You lose your job, your home, your money? Your friends and neigbors turning their back on you because your skin is yellow. Doesn’t that sound like what the European Jews went thru?
    My Grandparents and parents lost their homes, their thriving businesses, all their possesions all because of their ethnicity (FYI my parents were born in the USA and are citizens of the USA).
    The Japanese American during World War II were put in camps that almost always in remote, hostile climates, where they were put in tar paper barraks that the wind and sand would penetrate . In the winters the temps would be at freezing and the summers in the 100’s. These were men women and children that were loyal to their country, the UNITED STATES AMERICA. Many of the men joined the US Army and gave their lives for our country, while their family were in the camps where they would make camoflage for the military and grow plants to make rubber for the war effort. The kids were taught to be proad American. All while making the best of a terrible situation. Often times they were food shortages and what food they did get, were spoiled. Many times people would get sick because of the only food they were given were spoiled, full of worms. Most often the only medical attention that could be found were from other internees that happened to be Doctors and Nurses prior to the war.
    They may have not have been murdred like the Jews in the Nazi Concentration Camps, but they SUFFERED in ways that no human should have suffered. The names Relocation or Interment Camps do not fully tell what happened to the Japanese Americans during World War II. They were hoarded into “Ghetto’s”, made to live in inhumane conditions. So I ask you what you would like to call these camps?

  • Chuck

    Kristi, is indeed a credit to our country and the Japanese American (Nikkei) Community ! Her response to all the questions and her statements indicate she is knowledgeable as to what happened to the Nikkeis during WW II. She is super American ! As for Mr. Lawrence Jacobs, I feel sorry for him because he has to try justifying the use of the word “Internment” rather than seeing the reason behind the incarceration of Nikkeis into the “Concentration Camps”. In reality the German so called “Camps” were “Death Camps” ! As an internee of a Concentration Camp, I assure you it was no picnic ! There were people killed by soldiers in camps, there were times we had limited spoiled food served at the mess, Caucasian camp administrators administering food distribution convicted of selling good food that were supposed to be fed to the internees to the Black Market etc. But the bottom line is that seven of our ten “Constitutional Rights” were abrogated ! As an American, I lost close to four years of my life being incarcerated because justice didn’t prevail…. We in turn through our negative experience want to make sure that such an occurrence does not ever happen to any US. Citizen in the future.

  • Guille

    The INTERNMENT of Japanese AMERICANS was a dark period in our nation’s history. But not any different than any other DARK period–the slavery of blacks, the mistreatment of Native Americans, and the discrimination of Mexicans, obliterating their history and their sense of dignity. That is what happens when we are in this MELTING POT. It makes no difference if we call it internment camps or concentration camps, it is simply semantics. It was horrible, brutal, and it happened on this land of opportunity.

    When you live outside this country you will understand. This is not necessarily the best or the greatest, just another country trying to continue…

    We live together, we think differently, and that is what is supposed to make this country great. Let us make sure it NEVER EVER happens again…let us not FORGET…

  • Kent Christensen

    Thanks for including Kristi.

    I grew up in Lamar, CO, about 20 miles west of former Camp Amache.

    Your editors permitted Gates to mispronounce the town name Granada, which is said by locals with a long a.

  • Richard

    Just because they weren’t exterminated as Jews were in Nazi Germany does not diminish in any way what was done to Japanese Americans. They were rounded up and put into concentration camps ( during World War II ) they were called concentration camps, was only after World War II that they were called interment camps. These only crime was their Japanese ancestry. These people lost their homes, property, saving etc. whats more four years of their lives were taken away from them. Whats more this happened in a democratic country not a totalitarian dictatorship.

  • Linda MacKenna Ikuta

    I only know the Yamaguchi family very peripherally. They are very much like the other Japanese families I know; hard working and salt of the earth. I still have the cereal box when Kristi won her gold. She worked very hard for that gold. Life goes on.

  • Jay

    What happened to Americans because they were of Japanese decent cannot be overemphasized. A one-upsmanship game is unseemly, Mr J. I’ve recently found out that the same internment happened to citizens of German decent, too, and although I’ve seen some old writings about it, it doesn’t seem to register in the country’s consciousness. Unfortunately, that heritage of profiling is alive and well. We really NEED this kind of history lesson so we’ll see the commonalities while enjoying the differences.

    For Ms Yamaguchi: glad to have you and your family on board as Americans!

  • Sansei

    Wow, when I clicked on her page, then scrolled down to the comment area, I was AMAZED at the negative comments. But thanks to all for their positive comments. I loved the whole show and I thought this series would help American’s to realize that we should all be proud of our different heritages. What I took away from her segment(s) is that she’s a very honorable person who is proud to be a Japanese American and worked very hard to win a gold medal for our country. As a daughter of two internees and a Japanese American WWII Veteran, her tears were my tears. The interment of Japanese American’s was unjust and I hope to God that it never happens again.

    Learn more about the camps here:

    And about all of the different Japanese American WWII Veterans here:

  • Visionary

    Woe is me and my people. Were the Jews the only ones to suffer tremendously during the war (or in Nazi camps for that matter)? Stand in line, sir. Certainly the “industry” has done a bang-up job in presenting that viewpoint. With no help from the US as the victor writing history books.

    What was done to Japanese-Americans by our govt parallels with treatment of Jews living in Germany – rounded-up and shipped to camps. Our citizens were subjected to ridicule, losing homes, wealth, and businesses (sold at fire sale prices, like in Germany). Took fifty years for them to get compensated by the US – even the amount was insulting. I admire the strength these citizens to swallow the ills of the past and not to dwell upon into eternity. These proud people have proved themselves worthy of respect (and not only on the battlefields in Italy).

  • Visionary

    Many of the nasty “ideas” adopted by Nazi Germany were actually homegrown, US govt practices way before WW2 (eugenics (Edwin Black writes, “concentration camps” aka Indian Reservations. Heck, the US was even guilty of using slave labor on domestic farms with German POWs and unspeakable treatment of German POWs held in Europe.

  • Visionary

    Apparently the world has yet to learn lessons from the horrors of WW2, as we continue to witness outright racism, belligerency, apartheid, displacements, home demolitions, and “concentration camps” (world’s largest – West Bank and Gaza) in Israel.

    Some things never change.

  • Laraine

    Wow she is definitely not wearing fake contacts, and just because she put highlights in her hair doesn’t mean she’s trying to be white. Also if you knew anything about Asians/Pacific Islanders you would know that many do have brown hair, it’s not always JUST jet black.

    I’m surprised you didn’t get on Kristi for having a westernized hairstyle too.

  • Hawaiian

    I am a third generation Japanese American (”sansei”). My father volunteered during WWII and fought in Italy with the nisei 100th battalion. He was killed in action two weeks before my birth. I am now 66 years old. Not a day goes by without me thinking of him and what he could have been if he had lived. But I know that his sacrifice and those of other Japanese Americans during the war made it possible for my generation to earn the respect of Americans. “Faces of America” is a wonderful documentary and Kristi Yamaguchi’s story is an American story,
    which needs to be told to more people.

  • Kelli

    Very well said, LMN. As a decendant of slaves here in the U.S., I agree with Dr. King when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to just everywhere.” We gain nothing by playing the “My oppression is worse than your oppression” game. Slavery was horrific, the Holocaust was horrific, Native American Boarding Schools were horrific, Puerto Rican sterilization was horrific and yes, Japanese Internment camps were equally horrific and I am sure the list can go on and on.

    We have to realize that we are one human family and what ails my brother ails me. We have a responsiblility to speak up for our bother’s and sister’s that are experiencing injustice. Silence can sometimes be deafening.

    Peace be upon you all.

  • Kelli

    Here, here, Guille! Well said!

  • Skeptical

    Many women world wide get highlights in their hair and wear contacts. If Ms. Yamaguchi engages in these enhancements, why does that make her different than any other woman. How about focusing on her achievements rather than the shallow view that her looks comprise her being?

  • DeLaO

    Thank you to all of you for highlighting the injustices that people have experience in this country. This is refreshing. Only one person, however, mentioned the discrimination against Mexicans in the U.S now. Only time will allow other Americans to know how degrading and unjust it it to treat hard working people without dignity and respect. I hope it’s not too late when it happens. Well said people, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to just everywhere.” Thank you PBS.

  • Masaru Hashimoto

    It would be fitting for Kristi Yamaguchi, Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Japanese American Citizens League, and other interested parties to work together to tell of the contributions of the Japanese and Japanese Americans to this nation via the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in Washington, D. C.
    Poston Camp II “internee” prison number 12524 D.

  • Deedee

    I wish they would have done the FamilytreeDNA testing. My husband is Issei, but raised here, his family is from Niigata. His male family line is descended from “ethnic minority Chinese”, when I had his DNA tested – waaaay back, of course – likely over a thousand years. It would be hard to match by surname doing “Y” testing in Japan, since families with more than one male offspring, may allow a son to take the surname of his wife’s family, if her family has no male heir. Everyone living knows the “adopted” man’s birth surname, but what a jumble that might be to straighten out.

  • David

    This was a very interesting and moving show, especially Kristi’s segment. Her segment, and the entire show, kind of make my family history seem insignificant. Aside from that, it is sad that her family had go through being interned. It should have never happened, but, it did. What we have to do now is to remember what happened and move on.

  • Jules van Laar

    I’m sorry, but concentration camp means that an ethnic group is ‘concentrated’ in a camp.

    Internment camp simply means people are locked up. Locking people up is different from locking ethnic groups up.

    The Britisch concentrated and lockup up south-african Boer families in camps.

    Your mistaking concentration camps with death camps. Sure, death concentration camps are alot worse than work concentration camps.

    But concentration camps are worse than internment camps. Internment simply means locking people up, this can mean enemy soldiers, or criminals. When non-combatants and families from ethnic minorities are locked up it becomes something different.

    An internment camp becomes a concentration camp if they start to lock up whole families. They take an ethnic group out of society and concentrate them where they can be watched.

  • David

    You forget that this melting pot also provided and still provides A LOT of opportunities for people. Kristi is a case in point.

  • Julie

    As a 30 year Genealogist I have found that every family has had some of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
    Mr. Gates, credible Genealogist that he is, seemed to me to be baiting Kristi,( and Eva) over the Japanese American families internment in “Relocation Camps” in ARIZONA, where they had their lives torn from them, then had to start over, etc.
    How does this compare to the 1,177 American crewmen entombed on the USS ARIZONA, torn apart by Japanese bombs and lying at the bottom of the ocean in Pearl Harbor?
    “At approximately 8:10 am, the USS Arizona exploded, having been hit by a 1,760 pound armor-piercing bomb that slammed through her deck and ignited her forward ammunition magazine. In less than nine minutes, she sank with 1,177 of her crew, a total loss. The USS Oklahoma, hit by several torpedoes, rolled completely over, trapping over 400 men inside. The USS California and USS West Virginia sank at their moorings, while the USS Utah, converted to a training ship, capsized with over 50 of her crew. The USS Maryland, USS Pennsylvania, and USS Tennessee, all suffered significant damage. The USS Nevada attempted to run out to sea but took several hits and had to be beached to avoid sinking and blocking the harbor entrance.”


    Why does the United States of America have to continue to apologize for our Government doing what they believed was necessary during a War they were forced into by this Pearl Harbor disaster. The Japanese “Relocation families” were compensated and apologized to, where is our apology. Enough already.

    My ancestry is Irish, (how well were they treated), English, Scots, and Welsh, but I don’t call myself an
    Irish American or an English American.
    I am AN AMERICAN, why isn’t everyone who is an American citizen in this country, just AMERICAN.
    That should be enough.

  • akaSabrina

    We should all be Americans regardless of our outside appearance. This is ideal, but in America race or color trumps our nationality. If you’re Irish, people see your color first and say you’re American. You don’t have to prove your Americanness. It’s assumed even if you’re Canadian because you have the requisite color. If people see Kristi Yamaguchi, they first see an Asian (or worse assume she is “Chinese”). Her Americanness is proved by her language and actions.

    I agree that there were many atrocities that happen during WWII. I think it’s horrible that so many died in submarine bombings, airplane bombings, etc. Unfortunately, that is what war produces: atrocities. However, just because certain behaviors were sanctioned by the government (US or otherwise) doesn’t make it acceptable. Likewise, as Americans we have the right to challenge and question our government per our Constitution. Thus, we should do so.

    I hope that many people adopt your perspective and call all Americans, Americans regardless of their cultural heritage. I personally am tired of it; I don’t see people as Irish, Korean, African or otherwise. You’re a person first. Until the rest of the country adopts this mindset, cultural heritage idenitifies will be a part of our discourse — unfortunately.

    Internment camps are basically the same as concentration camps. Merriam-Webster defines concentration camps as camps “where persons (as prisoners of war, political prisoners, or refugees) are detained or confined.” On the other hand, the Oxford English Dictionary defines internment camps as “[t]he action of ‘interning’; confinement within the limits of a country or place”. Both are equivalent. What may be different is one’s interpretation based on what has occurred in modern history. However, if you’ve ever been to the Arizona desert in the summer, then you will know how unbearable the conditions were for those interned or concentrated in an area.

  • Ess

    You, like everyone else attacking the commenter Jacobs are really missing what that person was saying. The commenter wasn’t saying it was any less of an injustice but it is not the same as concentration camps where people were TORTURED AND KILLED. The commenter, I think, was being just a bit too technical since it was similar in ways they way the japanese were treated in the internment camps to the jews, but anyone who gets stuck on this one issue is truly missing the bigger picture of what this television show was actually about.

  • Matu

    I remember this young girl from Fremont Ca…….Now she is grown to be a wonderful contributor to our society. We are a melting pot of people, get use it it, that will never change, nor does it have too.

    I am proud to have Kristi as part of our American family, period……….Many girls look up to your achievements, and become your model in life…..Thank you

  • Dave

    “What we have to do now is to remember what happened and move on.”

    We must do more than just move on, yes we must learn from the past and yet we haven’t learned. We are repeating the same mistakes that was make. How many American citizens are currently being detained in Cuba? How many were taken from their home and not given any the right of due process?

    Kristi’s family lose their home and their business. Native American Indians lost their land and their lives.

    When will we learn and not repeat the actions from our past?

  • Lois

    Black hair, brown hair. Come on. My sister is a natural blonde. My daughter is a bottle blonde. Guess what? My daughter is not trying to be her aunt! Krisit’s ancestral family had trying experiences and they met them with resiliency, tenacity. They were so phenomenal. Thank you, Professor Gates. Keep making these shows. I hope schools all over are using them in their social studies programs.

  • Hawaiian

    Julie, you do not know your facts. The vast majority of Japanese who were sent to the camps were AMERICAN citizens. They were sent without trials or even charged with a crime. It was simply done because of their ethnicity.

    What happened at Pearl Harbor was tragic.(I know, since I live in Hawaii). But this is not directly related to what happened to Japanese Americans. They were not responsible in any way to the attack by Japan.

    Professor Gates also correctly pointed out the irony of Japanese American soldiers giving up their lives during the time their parents and friends were locked up in the camps.

  • Michelle

    Last night’s aired episode referred to Yamaguchi’s grandffather’s first family (his first wife and three children) all dying within months of each other (in 1922 if I recall). They speak of his strength in being able to m ove on after this and go on to marry again and have children aggain –one of whom was Kristy’s own father BUT, unless I missed it, we never learned how or why his first wife and three children all died within a year. Was it illness? a natural disaster?

  • David

    “cultural heritage idenitifies will be a part of our discourse — unfortunately.”

    What makes it part of our discourse is that people get pushed and pulled by others into making a decision of whether they accept one thing or another. Like, for example, are we Americans or hyphenated Americans? I believe that we all are Americans, whether newly immigrated or natural U.S. citizens.

  • Robert from Plattsburgh

    Prof. Gates, as always, an absolutely wonderful show that enriched and enlightened us all. Kristi, I’m so happy for you that Prof. Gates was able to bring your ancestry to life. Your achievements make all of your family, past and present — and all the rest of us : ) — proud!

  • Steve R.

    Kristi’s family background in interesting, I think this her family’s story is the best part of this series. She comes across as a genuine person, especially when she became emotional about her maternal grandfather’s write up in the “New York Times”, I thought that was the most powerful part of the two episodes.

    This is a great series!

  • Lumpy Karma

    That comment is just plain ignorant…

    Being from Hawai’i, I know any number of all Japanese, all Korean, all Chinese, all Filipina, all Hawai’ian and other Asian/Pacific Islander women and their natural hair colors range from medium brown, to brown black and often have natural, often reddish, highlights…

  • Carolyn

    Your ancestors would be proud of you, Kristi! Thank you for being part of this wonderful series!

  • Jeff

    Kristi, your story and that of your grandfather is an inspiration. You are truly a model lady. I really enjoyed watching your interview and whatever your hair color … you are GORGEOUS! I want you to know that you’re a very beautiful woman. Your personality is lovely and so are you! Hoping to see you again soon.

  • Jen

    Thank you to Kristi Yamaguchi for allowing us to share in her family’s story. The history of Japanese immigration and the experiences of Americans of Japanese ancestry is still often absent from the (often) Euro-centric perspective. I think it is important to know these stories, even if–particularly if– our individual ancestors came from a different place.

    That said, I was really disappointed to read the comments from “Julie” on February 14th. The great revelation of studying genealogy is the knowledge that we are all connected and that all of our ancestors have had their trials, injustices, and triumphs. It’s quite sad that in 30 years Julie has missed this. There is no point in advocating racism and perpetuating the hate of a war long enough gone. I hope that she will watch Kristi’s family story again and reconsider.

  • JPM

    Kristi’s story was one of the most moving ones in this series. I grew up watching her rise to the 1992 Olympic champion she became, not only on but off the ice. When I looked at her representing the US at the Olympics, I didn’t see her as a Japanese person but rather as a young lady that gave me hope that one day, my mark on the fabric of American society will be one where I am thought of as genuine, graceful, elegant, and a hard worker, traits which Kristi have expressed time and time again.

    When she wept for her grandfather, I was overwhelmed as well because I felt the same pride and respect she felt for him and all the sacrifices he made. It made me think of my own ancestry and all those who had the foresight, strength and gusto to move towards progress while staring into the face of hardship, unspeakable atrocities and sacrifices. As an immigrant of West Indian decent, I have very limited available information about my family history. However, Kristi’s story continues to inspire me that one day I’ll get to the roots of my own history. She is still a champ in my book!!

    As a side note – I feel that this show is to highlight our common denominators, first and foremost as human beings. And, while our ancestors histories may have taken diverse paths to end up here in America, it does not mean that one person’s family history to get here trumps another (for those of you who wrote so). That would be missing the point of what this country stands for, which is for all of us to try and co-exist peacefully with each other, accepting the beauty of our differences and trying not to repeat the same mistakes of the past. It would be an unfortunate way to miss the lessons to be learned in this series. I was happy that Professor Gates, Jr. brought such an inspirational series to us.

  • m.

    Thank you Jen,You wrote that so well .I smile. ” and crown thy good ,with brotherhood ,America, from .sea to shining sea”

  • Chris29

    Wow! I noticed the same thing! It is very sad. I have seen this before with other ethnic groups. I wish she was proud enough of her looks and heritage not to copy white beauty standards. Great documentary nontheless!

  • Jim Stephenson Jr.

    Stop the hateful comments about this proud Japanese American woman. I was recently in Waikiki Beach (Honolulu) Hawaii for 5 months with many Japanese tourists. Many Japanese MEN and Women had red hair and brown hair as well as black. Many Japanese MEN and Women highlight their hair and that is a fashionable style in Japan, Hawaii and in America for Asians.

  • mhg

    It’s not about comparing peoples sufferings – that’s pointless.

    The reason why it’s important to bring this terrible part in American history is that most people don’t know about it…not necessarily for “continued apologies.” I hope we learn from the past and our mistakes.

    I am too an AMERICAN and call my self AMERICAN and wish that could be enough but most people who look at me don’t see me as American because of how I look. And are surprised when I speak without an accent. But at the same time it’s about pride in your background which many ethnicity have been denied of in the past. It’s recognizing an important part of your background and history but it doesn’t necessarily negate your “Americanism.” I’m proud to be American and to be an Asian American.

  • Yini

    Victims aren’t in competition for “I had it sh#ttiest”… Law-abiding citizens lost their freedom and dignity.

  • Yini

    I love Kristi! She is an inspiration! And her competitive spirit cannot be touched – everything she does turns to GOLD! BTW, a great majority of Japanese women dye their hair… from their teens til they’re in their 70’s and 80’s. It’s a cultural thing ;)

  • RR

    “Mr J. I’ve recently found out that the same internment happened to citizens of German decent, too, and although I’ve seen some old writings about it, it doesn’t seem to register in the country’s consciousness.”

    I the spirit of discussion and debate:
    Pretty much all people of Japanese descent living in the US were put in camps during the war; only selected German aliens were held during the war. I don’t think there were any camps in the US just for people of German descent. Some Italian descent people living in the US were also held during the war. I believe there were also some deportations by the US of non-citizens to their country of origin during this same time.

    Executive Order 9066 signed by President Roosevelt forced about 120,000 Japanese descent people in the Western United States into camps. No trials or evident of any wrong doing.

    The National Archives website has some interesting information on other actions during the war:

    World War II Enemy Alien Control Program
    “Immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamations 2525, 2526, and 2527 to authorize the United States to detain allegedly potentially dangerous enemy aliens. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies arrested thousands of suspected enemy aliens, mostly individuals of German, Italian, or Japanese ancestry, living throughout the United States. ”

    “By the end of the war, over 31,000 suspected enemy aliens and their families, including a few Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, had been interned at Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) internment camps and military facilities throughout the United States.”

  • chris liu

    not really fair to make a comment on fake contacts or lighter hair because I know alot of White women that bleach their hair blonde. As a matter of fact, there’s more brunettes and redheads than blondes in the world let alone in big cities in America. Alot of white women even straighten their hair and get tans, are they all trying to look white? White people trying to look white, isn’t that irony? What if a Jewish women of European ancestry who just happens to have frizzy thick black hair wants to be a blonde? Jewish women trying to look white? Chew on that for a little while Linda.

  • Sandrella

    I have worked in the hair industry for over thirty years. Six days a week, 6 to 10 hours a day. The majority of that time was spent as a color specialist. Yes, all backgrounds and ages came to me for hair coloring techniques. Why? Because we all want to feel good about ourselves. Do you cut your hair in a certain way? What makes you choose the clothing you put on in the morning? Personal choice? Grow up all of you!!! I have very dear friends who are of Japanese decent who honor their heritage with celebrations including foods made by family members who have handed down their traditions to each generation. The whole basis of the program is to find out where you come from and share that with the next generation and so forth and so forth. My husband wears contacts. Does that effect who he is? NO My daughter wears clothing she likes and is comfortable in. Does that change who she is? NO My ancestors were abused and tormented because of ignorance. Does that make it my responsiblility to get conpensation for the wrongs done them by the government? NO It makes it my responsibility to see that history does not repeat it self with any other group of people and to educate my family in forgiveness and how to grow and progress past the things that happened to our ancestors. My journey began wanting to know how my family came to live in the USA The stories and information I have found are incredible and I have a long way to go to become like the outstanding people who are my ancestors. With maybe the exception of Butch Cassidy who just gives my family tree some interesting color. Quit picking and do your own research on your family to share with posterity. By the way what is your hair like and do you wear contacts? Are these in contrast with your ancestry? Do you want to be bound to anchent lifestyle choices? I think that we all like to have our own individuality and not be clumped together by the past, That is why we all look to the future isn’t it?

  • Silla

    She can do whatever she wants with HER hair. Why don’t you stop trying to enforce your ignorance on other races. You think all East Asians have black hair therefore they should all keep it that way and have no rights to style it whichever way they want? I’ve seen plenty of Asians with brown hair so if you have the “Well white women can dye their hair blond because there are white women with blond hair” then Asian can lighten there hair also since there are Asians with brown hair. Better then paying thousands of dollars to sew someone elses hair onto your own head like some other people do.

  • Catharine

    Kristi is being herself. If she wants to lighten her hair that’s up to her. Besides MANY Japanese women lighten their hair. That is THEIR cultural standard and has nothing to do with WESTERN ideals of beauty. Redish tones that come from the BROWN hair that many of them have naturally. I also don’t see contacts. It’s up to her how she wants to look.

  • Sandyk

    You all need to grow up. She is a beautiful woman with more talent than most of us could ever hope to have. This was a fascinating store of her heritage. Thanks for the great series. All of us who are family historians, greatly appreciate the spotlight on genealogy.

  • Jasmine Marshall Armstrong

    Kristi Yamaguchi’s family history in America is part of the region where I grew up, in the Arroyo Grande Valley, where many of the leaders of our community where Japanese Americans, who donated land for public parks, funded Little League and scholarship programs, and continue to farm the rich soils as did Kristi’s grandfather. During my recent studies for a Masters Degree in Creative Writing, I discovered that many Japanese Americans wrote poetry during their years of internship. These poems poignantly express the pain and suffering of the interment experience through poetic forms brought over from previous generations. My studies only further increased my respect and gratitude for the Japanese Americans like Kristi’s family, who, despite being rejected, made a community for all.

  • Jay

    It’s disheartening that the very first comment on this board is about Ms. Yamaguchi’s looks.

    Will there ever come a time in this world when people are judged for who they are and what they do as opposed to how they look?

  • Kathleen

    What a magnificent reply, absolutely the most humane and forgiving reply to a really silly “game’ as you so aptly put it. Thank you.

  • Lisa

    I have worked on a number of PBS programs focusing on cultural heritage. By far, the most pleasurable one was in Japan and the U.S. with Kristi Yamaguchi and her family. They showed the most integrity and class. Other high-profile individuals were nice, but simply did not have the Yamaguchi kind hearts, as well.
    How I fortunate I was,
    Lisa N.

  • Ann

    A. She’s not wearing contacts.
    B. What’s wrong with dying one’s hair?

    In a society that epitomizes beauty and consumerism, it’s most definitely not taboo for someone to dye their haircolor. Heck, it’s not even taboo anymore to implant silicone into one’s chest or botox into one’s forehead. It’s almost a norm.

  • Beryl N.

    I am agenealogist, my ancestors came here at the time of the Mayflower, and I have watched Kristi grow up on the ice, and have been so proud of her, and proud of the person she is, and the dignified way she presents herself on and off the ice. What a wonderful respresentation of an American Woman she is! Proud of her representing the USA in the Olympics and winning! She is and has always been beautiful! I wonder how many times Linda has colored her hair? Wonder if she wears contacts? Wonder what her accomplishments are? Wonder what kind of a “lady” and Mother she has become? Is Linda a little Jealous, being so catty?? Or is all of us answering her giving her her 15 minutes of fame????

  • R. Shield

    Why is it that by coloring/highlighting her hair, she is not “proud of her looks and her heritage” or embracing “white standards of beauty” ?!? That’s such an incredibly ignorant and ethnocentric statement. Are people of Irish , German or Scandinavian descent who dye their lighter colored hair dark equally not proud of their ethnicity or are they embracing asian standards or beauty??!? Why is it OK for caucasions to color their hair and try different looks at will, but if an Asian American does it, its an indictment of her feelings about her own ethnicity?

    How ignorant!

  • R. Shield

    To Julie (from 2/14/10)

    You say your background is Irish, English, Scots and Welsh…..based on your comments and using your own logic, if the UK were to launch a surprise attack on the USA, our government would be perfectly justified in taking you and your children out of your homes (causing you to abandon and lose the bulk of your possessions and property) on short notice and placing you in concentration camps behind barbed wire for a few years……. It’s ok and not a problem as long at the government apologies to you later and you should just get over it!

    Should all American Muslims also be put into relocation camps? No big deal, right? We can always apologize and compensate them later…..

    Learn your history– Japanese AMERICANS did not bomb Pearl Harbor. The JA’s were just as American as you are. You say that “our Government doing what they believed was necessary during a War they were forced into by this Pearl Harbor disaster.” Ask yourself this, why is it that after war was declared, the US government never took nor even contemplated any similar action against German Americans, despite the fact that the German American Bund and the American Nazi Party were actively working against US? There were German spies operating on US soil. U-Boats were torpedoeing American ships up and down the East coast from New England to Florida (sometimes in sight of land). Did you know Julie, that there were NO incidents of espionage or sabotage by Japanese Americans throughout World War 2? Ever hear of the 442 Regimental Combt Team (the most decorated unit in the history of the US Army)? The 100th Battilion?
    Learn your history, Julie Japanese Americans are NOT Japanese, they are AMERICANS!

    Your way of thinking scares the heck out of me and is typical of the mentality that allowed the relocation to occur in the first place.

  • Jenna

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  • CeeCee

    wonderful story – (though I don’t understand the interviewer’s need to interject his own personal comments & opinion [note his body language] about African Americans & slavery & the silent discussion in their own community about its effects??? when he was quizzing Ms. Yamaguchi about her grandparents and the matter of internment camps — seems to me that Ms. Yamaguchi aptly responded when she declared that the Japanese Americans decided to turn the page and focus on a more positive and resolute response, and forge a new life for themselves, which is blatantly obvious by their productivity and successes post WWII) – Ms. Yamaguchi is a product of her environment and she is making sweeping changes in other people’s lives as well -

  • Kachina

    Would you say that if she were caucasian?

  • Teresa

    In the first clip, they talk about Kristi’s DNA results, but they don’t say what they consisted of. It sounded like it was an unexpected result and I’m definitely curious as to why. It would be great if the results were included! Thanks.

  • Bill Freytag

    In a most remarkable coincidence, your maternal grandfather, and my father both served in the 100th Infantry Division during WWII. My father (now deceased) rarely spoke of the circumstances of his time in the 398th Infantry Regiment, but his service record shows that he earned both a Purple heart and Bronze Star for those
    campaigns in which the Division was involved. Many thanks to your grandfather for his selfless acts in fighting the good fight so many decades ago.

  • Lydia Thomson

    I can’t believe such ridiculous comments about her hair color and whether or not she is wearing contact lenses! Her story and that of her family brought me to tears. My parents talk about how the Japanese Americans were rounded up and lost their businesses and homes and taken to the camps. We know families whose parents were in camps as children and overcame all that hardship and loss and when they got out were not bitter, but went to work to rebuild what was stolen from them with quiet dignity. She didn’t even know about her own family’s hardship, because it wasn’t talked about or complained about. These people overcame such humiliating hardship and never complained or talked about it. Their history is here to remind us that we never want to repeat such a sad moment in American history.

  • 123654789

    well duh honey yu kinda cnt see contacts

  • Mark

    Many asians dye their hair for fashion, NOT to be white!. Just as many whites die their hair blacker or brown from blonde, or brown to blonde or blue or red, so do Asians, if you knew asians they have no desire to be white. Asia is a powerful, beautiful and intelligent force, if you have ever been to Seoul, Japan or Beijing you would feel the energy and see the beauty of the people in their local environment, they don`t care for ignorant whities who go of prejudice stereotypes targeted at minorities, and Asians love their countries. True some people have escaped certain poverty and “made it” in other countries like america to seek a better quality of life purely because of their personal situation, but this is true of all immigrants, from europe to america too, not just asians. You suffer from a false superiority complex if you think asians want to be white, making a few assumptions there.

  • Evelyn

    The American relocation camps were in fact called “concentration camps” during World War II.

    However, the Japanese survivors, in deference and sensitivity to the clearly far greater tragedies of the Nazi-run camps, have used the term “internment” since then.

  • David

    to the say that you are an american and an asian-american is one and the same. you are an american period. you can be proud about your background, you just don’t need to call yourself an asian-american since you already are an american.

  • wayne okazaki

    After watching Faces of America and learning that Kristi’s dad was at the Poston detention center, I was wondering if her gradfather Tatsuichi was at the same camp (Poston III) as my father, Jim Okazaki. I only have a school yearbook from that time and know that her grandfather wouldn’t be in it. Wouldn’t it be interesting if my family knew Kristi’s grandfather? P.S., why does it matter what her eye color or hair color is or was. Thanks Kristi for signing my Kristi hallmark ornament. I am proud that a Japanese American won a gold medal in the Olympics.

  • MAB911

    wow…she is really a role model for women and such determination to rise from such miserable conditions .i have just become a huge fan.

  • 6cats

    I am incredibly moved by the story of Kristi Yamaguchi’s grandfather! I have to admire a man who endured so many setbacks, humiliations, and losses, yet still perservered, prospered, and kept an open heart. Any hardships I have encountered in my life dwarf in comparison. No wonder his granddaughter had the mettle to become an Olympic gold-medalist.

    Thank you to Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and the staff of “Faces of America” for bringing this story–and all the others–to life for viewers.

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  • mary

    All women who are white are not born with blonde hair. Elizabeth Taylor whom most consider the most beautiful white woman who every lived has dark hair and purplish/blue(?) eyes. Therefore, if a white woman like Marily Monroe (born redhead) decided to dye her hair blonde what does this mean????? If a female or MALE decides to dye their hair another color, so WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If a person wants to spend thousands of dollars to have someone elses hair onto their head that’s their business. Old HOLLYWOOD stars both male and female in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, etc. used other folks hair on their head–SO WHAT!!! If the studios wanted to spend the thousand for this – what’s it to YOU!! And if a regular person decides to do the same its that persons money.
    Kristi isn’t denouncing her heritage just because she wanted a streak or two or contacts. Get a GRIP!! Stop the critism, analyzing, and verbal attacks on others. Learn to accept anothers choice.

  • Carrie

    Gates is mostly white. That’s why he has light eye color. She clearly has contacts specially if you see her in her early years of skating. Nevertheless, I do agree that she can wear or change whatever she pleases. Who are anyone of us to judge? Propaganda has been encrypted into all Americans. It’s a pleasure to view the diversity that now is in T.V. I grew up viewing always the desired woman of affection in TV use to be the blue eyed blond. Cleopatra and Nefertiti were played by white women (Elizabeth Taylor and Anne Baxter). Both of these women were considered to be the most beautiful women in history. (Although Cleopatra was seductress of powerful men and was implied that she was beautiful to have so much persuasion). Halle Berry was the first non-white female to cast as desired woman in a non-black film (Flintstones) in the early 1990s. There is a new paradigm and we will be able to appreciate beauty in any complexion,


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  • cassie

    I too enjoyed the PBS program Faces of America. I think I remember from the program, Kristi, that your early family in America were in the area of the Salinas Valley of California. Kristi, was there a Paulene Yamaguchi in your family, that graduated from Salinas High School, Salinas CA, 8 June 1939? We might share a unique connection.

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  • Gary

    I’ve viewed this interview with Kristi Yamaguchi twice. I am very impressed with her sensitivity and intelligence. She truly represents the best in the Japanese American community. As a third generation JA (sansei) I am proud of her.

  • Aang

    Wonderful documentary. Although I’m sad to see some ignorant comments, I’m not worry because smart and open minded viewer’s comments outnumber them.

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  • Tom Vitale

    Why are so many of these comments indicative of racist attitudes? Why are so many people obsessed with race and skin color? Are people trying to resolve their emotions over racism? It can’t be done by holding on and perpetuating racism; FORGIVE. Kristi Yamaguchi and Heny Louis Gates Jr. are very beautiful human beings. I love them both and respect them both.

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