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This Mexican American Teenager Spent Years in a Japanese Internment Camp—On Purpose

The station was filled with worried faces and hushed voices. Soon, those who gathered there would leave their lives and livelihoods behind as prisoners of the internment camps where over 110,000 people of Japanese descent—most American citizens—would be incarcerated for the duration of World War II.They didn’t want to leave, but they had been ordered to go. 

Except for Ralph Lazo, that is. The Mexican American teen wasn’t supposed to be at the station at all, but had volunteered to go. The person who took down his information in early 1942 had seen his brown skin and assumed he was Japanese, too. “They didn’t ask,” he told the Los Angeles Times later. “Being brown has its advantages.”

Lazo was about to become the only known person of non-Japanese ancestry who volunteered to live in an internment camp. What some saw as a years-long ruse or proof he sympathized with the enemy in World War II, he saw as an act of solidarity.

Read entire article at History.com