It was Disney who Fujikawa said changed the way she handled bigots during World War II. Unlike her parents and younger brother, she escaped internment because she was living in New York; only Japanese residing on the West Coast were sent to the camps. But Fujikawa traveled frequently, and when people became suspicious of her, she often told them she was really Anna May Wong, the Chinese American actress. According to her nephew, Fujikawa took secret delight in this masquerade.Representations of race and ethnicity would continue to play a quiet, though visible, role in her work.
But when she told Disney that she often lied about her heritage, he exploded. "Damn it! Why should you say that? You're an American citizen," he said.
"From that moment on," Fujikawa recounted recently, "that's exactly what I did tell them."
In her first two books, "Babies" and "Baby Animals," she proposed showing "an international set of babies--little black babies, Asian babies, all kinds of babies." But this was the early 1960s and a sales executive at Grosset & Dunlap told her to take the black babies out for fear they would kill sales in the South.Books:
Fujikawa, a diminutive, elegant but feisty woman, refused. Today the books have sold more than 1.5 million copies and have been translated into more than 20 languages. She is often credited as the first children's author to depict a multiethnic cast of characters.
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