Powerful PSA on internment asks: Is History Repeating Itself?

Executive produced by Katy Perry. Yes, that Katy Perry.

Amidst xenophobic rhetoric and disconcerting discussions of a Muslim registry, it's not hard to draw parallels between modern day Islamophobia and the fears that led to the incarceration of innocent Japanese Americans during World War II. This PSA, directed by Aya Tanimura and Tim Nackashi, and executive produced by Katy Perry(!), makes the case that registries are the first steps to history repeating itself.

This two and half minute clip features a brief interview with Haru Kuromiya, an 89-year-old American woman of Japanese heritage who grew up in Riverside, California. She recalls how her family was put on a registry and eventually taken off to an internment camp, where they were incarcerated for four years.

Then Haru stops talking and does something unexpected...

"Don't let history repeat itself." Haru is voiced by Haru Kuromiya. But as you can see after the striking reveal, she is played by Hina Khan, a Muslim American actress of Pakistani descent.

As our nation hurtles towards inauguration day, Tanimura says the PSA is a direct response to Donald Trump, who rose to victory on a campaign of hate-mongering rhetoric about women, Muslims and minorities.

"Trump has created an atmosphere of fear for Muslim Americans in the United States," Tanimura tells the Los Angeles Times. "The accountability and responsibility for what you say and do now has been lifted so people feel a little freer to be racist, or act upon racism, because there are not necessarily consequences for it -- it's just acceptable behavior. If laws are put in place to back that up, it will be pretty scary."

So how the heck did Katy Perry get involved? The Grammy-winning singer wrote a blank check to the filmmakers to cover the costs of the PSA's crucial custom prosthetic makeup effects, crafted by Oscar-nominated special effects guru Tony Gardner. They also enlisted the help of the nonprofit media arts center Visual Communications and got crews to donate time to shoot the piece.

The result is this powerful reminder of what happens when Americans turn on each other out of fear.

More here: Katy Perry lends her support to pro-Muslim American PSA

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