In a fascinating bit of cross-cultural misalignment, Michael Yaki, a former San Francisco supervisor and now a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, got Bravo to cut the use of the acronym “JAP,” which is colloquially used, often in a self-referential way, to stand for “Jewish-American Princess,” from its promos for and episodes of a new show, Princesses: Long Island, about privilege young women from the New York area. The San Francisco Chronicle explains:
“This promo ran again and again and I got madder and madder and said, ‘This is not right,’ ” said Yaki, a KRON-TV political analyst. “I’m the son of a Japanese American who spent a part of his childhood behind barbed wire in an internment camp in the Arizona desert. It is a term that offends Japanese Americans and Asian Americans.”
On Friday, Yaki sent a letter to executives at Bravo, saying, “While I understand that there has been a regional colloquial use of the word, the time is long past that it should be a word that Bravo actively promotes on its network. You can see that it is so offensive to me that I cannot even spell the whole word out.”
The use of the acronym has nothing to do with the slur against Japanese-Americans, of course, originating separately in novels by Jewish men and magazine articles about Jewish women–Frank Zappa even wrote a 1979 song called “Jewish Princess,” that brought the Anti-Defamation League down on him. The questions of whether or not it’s a slur, and whether or not the term’s been officially and widely claimed are up for debate. But wherever those conversations settle, it makes sense that hearing a word that in another context is absolutely derogatory must be jarring.
Read the full post here.