Grits and Tamales

Life in the Deep South, by Gabriel Aguilera

Ms. Kojima

The other day I remembered fondly my seventh grade history teacher, Ms. Kojima. Someone told me a few years later that she had been at Manzanar. I never forgot this. All I remember is that she drove a black Porsche and was cool. She seemed to care about the students, too, though probably a bit less about me than the more promising ones.

She had personality and spunk beneath the veneer of discipline needed to govern unruly seventh graders. Ms. Kojima gave as good she got from her smart-ass students. She introduced me to the word obnoxious. I do not recall what I said to her that day, but I do remember her wagging her finger at me while saying, “Ga-bree-el, you are obnoxious!” This was all too true. I remember the incident and to this day my old friends and I laugh about it. What bothers me about the memory is that I do not recall looking up obnoxious.

I would give anything to have talked with her as an adult; about what she thought of the Latino kids that she taught, about her time in the internment camps, and, above all, about her and her family’s American story.
May she rest in peace wherever she is now. 


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