Fighting Tradition: A Marine's Journey to Justice
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From the University of Hawai'i Press

Fighting Tradition
A Marine’s Journey to Justice

Fighting Tradition is Bruce Yamashita’s own story of his struggle to expose a pattern of racial discrimination against minorities that has existed at various levels of the Corps. Determined to be a U.S. Marine Corps officer, Yamashita enrolled in the 140th Officer Candidate School at Quantico (VA), where he was the target of persistent racial harassment by officers and staff. On the first day, a sergeant instructor yelled: You speak English? Well we don’t want your kind around here, go back to your own country! Later, another sergeant screamed: During World War II, we whipped your Japanese ass! For the remainder of the course, he was subjected to continuous racial taunts, unfair treatment, and physical abuse. After completing the entire 10 weeks of training, he was disenrolled due to unsatisfactory leadership, along with other minorities in his platoon. He protested. The Marine Corps said he was a liar.

With the support of a broad coalition of community and civil rights organizations, he fought a lonely five-year-long legal, political and media battle. After multiple Inspector General investigations, the truth finally came to light. Significantly, the case revealed statistics showing that there had been a pattern of discrimination against minorities at OCS for years. In 1994, Yamashita was finally commissioned a captain in the Marine Corps in the House Armed Services Committee Room on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Most important, Marine Corps policies and procedures were changed forever, which would make the corps a better place for all marines.

As a third-generation American, his grandfather came to Hawaii from Japan to work on the sugar plantations in 1892. What followed was the American dream. Both of his parents were born in Hawaii, attended college and became professionals: civil engineer and college professor. His uncle, Daniel Yamashita, was a member of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the all-Nisei Army unit during World War II, and received the purple heart for wounds suffered during the Battle of the Arno River in Italy. In telling his story, the author uses a series of flashbacks to reveal his family history and stories of his youth, which sheds light on the depth of the injustice, and provides the compelling moral imperative to right a wrong.

Fighting Tradition is not only a moving story of personal sacrifice and vision, but contributes both directly and indirectly to our understanding of the complexities of institutional racism in a politically conservative, demographically shifting society. It is a unique window into the dynamics of race, government and the law and a stirring reminder of the importance of political mobilization by the individual to achieve justice.

Contact Bruce to Learn More

Bruce is available for speaking engagements or film screenings.

What People Are Saying

“A valuable account of one person’s fight against racial profiling and the inexcusable damage to civil liberties and self-worth that result from it.”
-Dennis Ogawa, Department of American Studies, University of Hawaii-Manoa

“His book is a fascinating page-turner, with a wonderfully interwoven mix of family history, current events and self-reflection.”
-Phil Tajitsu Nash, Asian Week

“Fighting Tradition should be read for the story it tells and the seriousness of the issues it addresses…”
-Don Watanabe, International Examiner

“Bruce Yamashita deserves our thanks—not only for bearing his heart and soul, but also for waging his long and lonely battle for justice. His story serves to remind each and every one of us that freedom is indeed a constant struggle.”
-Monroe Little, Indiana University-Purdue University (African-American Studies)

“Powerful and deeply moving…it provided a unique window to another side of America.”
-Akiko Suzuki, Tokyo, Japan

“This is a glaring expose of the enduring racist traditions of the U.S. Armed Forces, the last of American life where political correctness holds no sway.”
-Colin Donald, The Daily Yomiuri

“From the very first page, it’s a fascinating read.”
-J.A. White, Washington D.C.

“Fighting Tradition is a well-written page turner…a very compelling story.”
-N. Birnbaum, Alexandria, VA

“I am an American marine and served as an 0311 rifleman in the Marine Corps 5th infantry regiment and I would like to say I love this book. I am currently receiving my GI BILL and my major is Asian American Studies. I am writing my senior paper on Asian American Marines. This book is a realistic and honest look into modern racism in the Marines. REAL marines that have seen a combat deployment will be able to decipher fact from fiction and this is the real deal. Asian America needs REAL patriots like this author, and some SELLOUTS who remain nameless need to go home with their fictional world of a level playing field. YOU sir are a good marine!”
-Johnny Ngo, Former Marine