Responses to Hate
Midwest Office – March 2010
The JACL sent a letter to Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times, objecting to the use of a slur contained in a crossword puzzle clue. In the March 30, 2010 edition of the New York Times’ crossword puzzle, the term “Jap.” was used as an abbreviation for “Japanese.” In his letter to Mr. Keller, Midwest Director Billl Yoshino pointed out the offensive nature of the slur and requested that the puzzle editor, Will Shortz, be reminded about improperly using this term.
Midwest Office – March 2010
The JACL was emailed by a concerned user of an online gaming website which often uses the term “jap” as an abbreviation for “Japan” or “Japanese.” When the user explained in a forum that the term “jap” was considered an offensive racial slur, he was mocked and ridiculed by other members. The website administrators did nothing to address the issue or close the thread, despite a request by the user. In an email to the site’s administrators, the JACL advised the site to adopt the proper abbreviation, “Jpn,” as well as to be more vigilant about the content of its forums.
Washington, D.C. – March 2010
The JACL issued a statement criticizing Senator Lindsey Graham’s stereotypic, racially-tinged language during the debate over healthcare reform. In an interview for a South Carolina radio station, Senator Graham suggested that the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had the House Democrats “all liquored up on sake” to make a “suicide run” to pass health care legislation. In the statement, the JACL affirmed Representative Mike Honda’s criticism of Sen. Graham’s choice of language, and urged the senator to refrain from such inflammatory rhetoric and unnecessary, “derogatory caricatures of Asian culture.”
Midwest Office – March 2010
The JACL responded with outrage at recent events at UCSD that began when students organized a racially-themed party to mock Black History Month. The “Compton Cookout,” as the party was named, encouraged female attendees to dress as “ghetto chicks,” characterized by gold teeth, cheap clothes, “nappy” hair and a “very limited vocabulary.” Male party-goers were required to wear urban clothing and other accessories stereotypically attributed to Black urban culture. In a statement issued jointly with its National Student/Youth Council, the JACL criticized the “shocking lack of judgment and racial insensitivity displayed by the students who organized and participated in this event,” adding that “whatever the intent of the hosts, racially-themed parties serve only to perpetuate derogatory and demeaning stereotypes while alienating students of color.” The JACL enumerated a series of steps the university must take to address racial tensions at the school, including the need to “engage the student community in a series of diversity efforts calculated to engender multiracial understanding and cohesion.”
Midwest Office – March 2010
The JACL received several complaints after a feature on the “Today” Show highlighted a Vancouver hot dog stand called “Japadog.” In a letter to Jim Bell, the “Today” Show’s Executive Producer, Ford Fellow Christine Munteanu stated, “It is disappointing to see that the “Today” Show would overlook the use of a racial slur in a business they chose to highlight, especially considering one of “Today” show’s top anchors, Ann Curry, is of Japanese descent.”
Midwest Office – February 2010
The JACL sent a letter to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White upon learning of the existence of an Illinois automobile license plate, “JAP 1103.” In his letter, Midwest Director Bill Yoshino stated “the term is demeaning and dehumanizing and…. the use of the term violates your policy of granting vanity and other license plates that use “offensive or obscene” combinations.” The JACL requested the state immediately revoke the license plate and all others bearing use of the slur.
San Francisco, CA – January 2010
The JACL sent a letter of support on behalf of John P. Suzuki, an employee at Chevron Corporation, to Chevron’s CEO John Watson. Mr. Suzuki reported that he had been subject to discriminatory treatment and racial slurs, including being called “a stupid jap” by his supervisor, Alan Klaassen. In her letter to Mr. Watson, JACL NCWNP Director Patty Wada stated, “Under no circumstances is the use of racial slurs warranted or appropriate,” and urged Chevron management to thoroughly investigate Mr. Suzuki’s reported incident.
Dayton, Ohio – January 2010
The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) objected to a statement by Ohio lieutenant governor Lee Fisher that criticized Japan for placing barriers on American car sales in a Japanese incentive program similar to the United States’ “Cash for Clunkers” program. Mr. Fisher claimed that “the exclusion of American autos from Japan’s domestic Cash for Clunkers program is outrageous…” and that "…when Japan created its own sales incentive program, it erected barriers making it nearly impossible for American cars to qualify.”
In his letter to Mr. Fisher, Ron Katsuyama, JACL Vice President of Public Affairs, criticized the statement as “misleading and irresponsibly inflammatory.” Katsuyama raised the specter of the 1982 killing of Vincent Chin, when during a time of economic distress, two Detroit autoworkers violently murdered Chin, mistakenly believing that he was of Japanese descent. “In this troubled economic time with high unemployment,” Katsuyama added, “the JACL is concerned that simplistic accusations of unfair trade practices against Asian countries can induce anti-Asian sentiment at home and worse, violence against our Asian Pacific American residents.” The JACL has asked that Fisher retract his accusatory statements and, in future discussion of foreign trade issues, engage in more balanced, informative and productive discussions.
Midwest Office – December 2009
At an appearance at the Nobel Peace Prize after party in Oslo, American country singer Toby Keith made a racist gesture while on stage during a performance of “Rapper’s Delight.” As another singer sang the lyrics “To the black, to the white, the red and the brown, the purple and yellow,” Mr. Keith pulled back the corners of his eyes to symbolize the word “yellow.” The JACL joined other Asian American organizations in condemning Mr. Keith’s actions, stating “Though the gesture lasted no more than a second, it evoked powerful and painful emotions in the Asian American community, a reminder of schoolyard taunts and childhood bullying. It was an immature and insensitive action that only served to humiliate Asian Americans through racial mockery.”
Midwest Office – December 2009
The JACL sent a letter addressing a racist radio ad aired by a North Carolina car dealership after receiving a call from a concerned JACL member. The ad from Capital Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership featured a “Japanese Joe” character, complete with an exaggerated foreign accent and mangled grammar, who pushed a “Buy American” attitude. In a letter to the dealership’s general manager, Barry Driver, Ford Fellow Christine Munteanu criticized the ad’s use of “childish racial mockery” and the requested that the dealership refrain from using outlandish and disrespectful racist caricatures future ads.
Midwest Office – December 2009
The JACL sent a letter to the Yuma Sun, an Arizona newspaper, after a concerned reader contacted the organization regarding the use of the slur “Jap” in an article spotlighting a survivor of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. In a letter to the Yuma Sun publisher Joni Weerheim, Ford Fellow Christine Munteanu stated that although “the slur was included as part of a direct quotation” from a veteran, “by not editing it out, the Yuma Sun signals to its readership that continuing to use this slur is acceptable.” The Yuma Sun published the letter on its website and redacted the slur from online versions of the story.
Midwest Office - November 2009
Bill Yoshino, Midwest Regional Director of the Japanese American Citizens League, has sent a letter to Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News Channel, condemning the disgraceful behavior of one of the network’s guests, Bo Dietl. As a guest on Don Ismus’ radio show, Bo made disparaging, racist comments against Asian Americans as part of a rant on Katie Couric’s appearance. In the letter, Yoshino writes, “By continually inviting Dietl as a guest, Fox News gives credence to his childish behavior and the racist, hateful views he demonstrates."
UPDATE (11/30/09): Kevin Magee, Fox Business Network's Executive Vice President, has responded to the JACL’s concerns regarding Dietl's remarks. While maintaining that Dietl was a guest of Imu's show and not an employee of Fox, Magee stated that Dietl “has been spoken to about your concerns and has been asked not to engage in such activity in the future.”
National Office – August 2009: The JACL issued a press release condemning Paramount Pictures' new film “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard.” In the movie, the main character uses a racial slur to launch a group physical attack on an Asian character, and afterwards admits that the group has just participated in a hate crime. The JACL statement reads, “There is nothing funny about the use of racial slurs and there is little that is insightful or thought-provoking in a scene that displays a shocking lack of judgment.” The JACL also wrote to president of Paramount Films, Adam Goodman, requesting to discuss the issue and ways to avoid this situation in the future. Click here to read the press release. Click here to read the letter.
Midwest Office – August 2009: The JACL wrote to the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club after a JACL member pointed out the organization’s magazine repeatedly used the term “Jap” as an abbreviation for “Japanese.” In a letter to the Club’s President, Stuart Covington, JACL Midwest Director Bill Yoshino wrote, “We are concerned that by regularly using this slur in lieu of the proper abbreviation, ‘Jpn,’ the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club suggests to its readers that the use of this slur is acceptable, and it is not.” Click here to read the letter.
Midwest Office – July 2009: The JACL responded to an incident in Lawrence, IN, in which a police officer referred to an unidentified Asian male as “Jackie Chan” rather than “John Doe.” Lawrence Chief of Police Paul Whitehead acknowledged the incident was “racially insensitive” and is taking steps to address the issue. In a letter to Whitehead, JACL Midwest Director Bill Yoshino writes that the JACL regards the officer’s actions as “purely racist,” and advised on the use of the term “Oriental” in the police report. Yoshino writes, “The term [Oriental] took on a meaning that de-personalized Asians and relegated them to a subhuman level.” Click here to read the article. Click here to read the letter.
Midwest Office – July 2009: The JACL wrote to Tribune Media Services after a JACL member discovered a crossword puzzle appearing in the July 8, 2009 Bakersfield Californian newspaper that used the term “Jap” as an abbreviation for Japan. In a letter to Assistant Editor Pat Fitzmaurice, JACL Midwest Director Bill Yoshino states, “we are concerned because the term is a racial slur that has been used to vilify and defame Japanese Americans.” Yoshino further requests that this information be passed onto the Puzzle Editor and all others who would benefit from the information. Click here to read the letter.
Midwest Office – July 2009: The JACL responded to an appalling use of the racial slur “Jap” in a Men’s Journal Magazine satirical article. The author, Matt Taibbi, used the expression, “nuking the Japs,” in his article, Waiting For Larry. JACL Midwest Director Bill Yoshino urges in a letter to Editor-in-Chief David Zinczenko, “[Taibbi] should know that the J-word is tinged with the same demeaning attributes [as the N-word] that have the power to marginalize and isolate all who may be defined by the term. Do not use this slur, as it is unacceptable and obscene.” Click here to read the letter.
Midwest Office – April 2009: The Midwest Office sent a letter to Lancaster Bureau of Police urging them to conduct a thorough investigation that will lead to the arrest of the individuals responsible for a racial attack on three Asian students at Franklin & Marshall College. One Asian American and two Asian international students were assaulted in the early hours of April 19 when they were confronted by a larger group of young people and subjected to racial insults. This led to a physical assault by the larger group, thought to be Franklin & Marshall students. One of the Asian students required medical treatment.
In a letter to the police chief, Keith Sadler, JACL Midwest Director Bill Yoshino states, “we urge you to cooperate with the officials at Franklin & Marshall College to take active measures to ensure the safety of the Asian and Asian American student population.”
Midwest Office – April 2009: The Midwest Office sent a letter to NBC Television objecting to the use of the term “jap” during an episode of Heroes. In the letter, Bill Yoshino said, “Heroes has a large viewership, especially among impressionable young people. The use of the slur is inappropriate because the viewership may come to believe the use of this epithet is acceptable inasmuch as there was nothing in the script to explain or admonish its use.”
Midwest Office – March 2009: The Midwest Office contacted the Missouri Commission on Human Relations on behalf of a Japanese American who was exposed to racial slurs in the workplace. The individual is a truck driver whose driving partner repeatedly uttered slurs despite being admonished not to use the words. The JACL informed the commission about the derivation of Asian racial slurs and the damage that is created when they are used in the workplace.
National Office – March 2009: The JACL issued a press release criticizing the Storm Lake School District for launching disciplinary actions and threatening further sanctions on a senior honors student for refusing to take an English proficiency exam despite her academic success. Lori Phanachone was labeled an English Language Learner (ELL) after declaring Lao as her home language. The school district did not assess Phanachone’s English proficiency during her enrollment two years ago and has subjected her to an annual exam for ELLs. The JACL supports efforts to expunge Phanachone’s records as well as to seek clarification of the school district’s procedures for classifying students as ELLs during enrollment. JACL National Director Floyd Mori stated, “We do not believe the school district acted properly in disciplining Lori Phanachone simply because she designated Lao as her home language out of respect for her heritage.”
UPDATE: April 2009 - The Iowa School district has restored Lori's National Honor Society membership and reclassified her as English proficient. SOURCE: AALDEF
National Youth/Student Council – March 2009: The JACL National Youth/Student Council (NY/SC) expressed concern over racist and anti-gay graffiti found spray painted on the Great River School in St. Paul, Minnesota. The graffiti was found across from the hotel at which NY/SC members were staying during their Spring retreat in preparation for their National Youth Conference at Macalester College in St. Paul late June. National JACL contacted the school, who had the graffiti reported and removed immediately.
Midwest Office – March 2009: The JACL responded to the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Indianapolis where a controversy arose when a framed newspaper front page declaring “Japs Surrender” was removed at the request of an employee who was offended by the headline. A group of retired marines objected to the removal claiming the removal whitewashed history. At the request of the VA, JACL Midwest Director Bill Yoshino responded “the use of the term “jap” was common during World War II and in preceding decades as a way to demean a group of people…This does not mean, however, that we need to perpetuate the use of slurs today or in the future. People, especially the young, who view the headline may come to believe the use of the term is acceptable, and it is not. In 1942, the security of our nation was threatened by war and the use of racial slurs was employed to dehumanize the enemy. Tragically, this also led to a failure to distinguish the loyalty of Japanese Americans from the enemy resulting in constitutional failures that brought shame to our nation.”
JACL PSW District Council -- March 2009: The JACL Pacific Southwest District is monitoring and assisting in a case where Thanh Hong, a Vietnamese student, at the University of California at Santa Barbara and an Asian American friend were accosted with racial epithets such as “Chinaman,” “Chink,” and “gook” when they passed in front of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house. Without provocation, as they tried to walk away, one of the men hit Thanh’s friend in the face and then attacked Thanh. The man continued to use slurs during the attack. Thanh and his friend sustained injuries including a facial laceration requiring stitches and a concussion. Both the university and Santa Barbara police were called and an investigation is in progress. The JACL PSW office has also been in contact with Vietnamese organizations on the case.
National Office – March 2009: The JACL sent a letter to Dartmouth College President Jim Wright and expressed dismay at the racist email about Dr. Jim Yong Kim, who is to become the 17th President for Dartmouth College on July 1, 2009. The email was dismissed by the Dartmouth administration as “an offensive attempt at humor.”
JACL National Executive Director JACL, Floyd Mori, stated: “While Dartmouth positions itself as a premier Ivy League school with excellence in academics, it should be a leader in promoting more tolerant human relations and educate its students that racial slurs and dehumanizing comments should not have a part of today’s society.”
Midwest Office – February 2009: The JACL wrote a letter to the American Girl brands after a JACL member noticed the packaging for a World War II doll contained a diorama that included the headline “Japs bomb Pearl Harbor.” The letter expressed concern over using a racial epithet in a product marketed towards an impressionable audience and requested that the doll be repackaged using a more suitable headline.
In the letter to American Girl President Ellen Brothers, Midwest Regional Director, William Yoshino states, “You should be aware that the use of that term during the 1940s helped to vilify and demean Japanese Americans and was a factor that led to their forced eviction from their homes and communities on the West Coast, followed by their confinement in concentration camps.”
National Youth/Student Council - February 2009: The JACL National Youth/Student Council (NY/SC) issued a press release expressing their dismay regarding the surfacing of a photo showing Miley Cyrus and some friends pulling back their eyes. The NY/SC condemned this behavior, referencing Cyrus' position as a role model for many, and requested an apology.
In the statement, National Youth Chair Kimberly Shintaku and National Youth Representative Brandon Mita says, "Many of us consider Ms. Cyrus as a role model who has now offended a portion of her fans. It is difficult to simply dismiss this as a prank when it is a source of anguish for so many Asian Pacific Americans."
UPDATE: The JACL NY/SC wrote a letter to Cyrus days later, acknowledging that a recent posting on her website explaining her behavior wasn’t enough to undo the damage of her actions. The NY/SC asked Cyrus to take responsibility by sincerely apologizing and stating that she understands why her behavior was offensive.
Northern California – Western Nevada – Pacific Office – January 2009: The Japanese American Citizens League responded to a report that two students were targets of racial slurs, threats and attacks. It has been reported that the racial epithet “jap” has been used to harass and taunt them, as well as comments such as “flat face,” “Asian bitch” and “Go back to where you came from.” Both students are of Japanese ancestry.
In a letter to Superintendent Larry Snelling, JACL Northern California – Western Nevada – Pacific District Regional Director Patty Wada said, “[these students] are Americans – Asian Americans -- and those who either don’t accept or understand that fact require a lesson in American history and tolerance.” The JACL also asked that a thorough investigation of these charges be led by the Superintendent’s office.
Northern California – Western Nevada – Pacific Office – January 2009: Mayor Margaret Abe-Koga joined a growing group of city leaders and community groups to address the recent spate of hate incidences after receiving a hateful e-mail days before being sworn into office and being racially taunted by a group of boys when walking her daughter from school. Other incidents include a vandalized school sign that read “No More Aliens,” a disgruntled neighbor who confronted and intimidated the Mountain View Day Worker Center because he or she was unhappy about the immigrant day laborers, and a group of Latino students walking home from school who were chased by a group of White teenagers. This group of city leaders and community groups hope to hold an event called “Not In Our Town” as a community response. JACL Northern California – Western Nevada – Pacific District Regional Director Patty Wada and San Mateo JACL Chapter has contacted this group to further support this effort. SOURCE: Patty Wada and MercuryNews.com
Northern California-Western Nevada-Pacific Office - January 2009: JACL Headquarters received a phone call from Mr. A* who saw a sign on the Carlmont Village Shopping Center in Belmont, California, that read "Jap Maple Pruning Seminar Jan. 18 10-2." Mr. A contacted our offices and sent photos of the sign. Northern California-Western Nevada-Pacific Regional Director Patty Wada contacted the Carlmont Shopping Center Management Office and the vendor who requested the sign, Carlmont Nursery. Both were unaware that "jap" was a slur and immediately contacted the sign company and the sign was taken down within an hour-and-a-half. Mr. A was informed of the positive resolution and results of his actions and given our appreciation for alerting our offices.
*Mr. A’s name has been changed to protect his identity.
National Office - January 2009: The National JACL responded to what appeared to be a pattern of perpetuating racial stereotypes of Asian Americans on the Stephanie Miller show. The show presents a Kim Jong-Il character, voiced by Jim Ward, in which he transposes the letter "R" with "L" in speech, and uses the song "We Have to Celebrate Our Differences" that includes the lines "ching-chong" and "ugga-booga."
In a letter to the show's executive director, Chris Lavoie, JACL National Director Floyd Mori said, "The JACL is not opposed to the creative handling of political stories... We fail to find humor or commentary in what appears to be nothing more than a stunt carelessly laced with childish racial mockery."
Midwest Office – November 2008: The Midwest office of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) responded to an attack on an Asian American alumnus of the University of Colorado at Boulder, in which the victim was punched in the face and forced to say "I love America." Officials from the Boulder Police Department and the University of Colorado at Boulder responded quickly by issuing a call for information from the public and statements condemning this attack, respectively.
In a letter to Chancellor G.P. “Bud” Peterson, JACL Midwest Director William Yoshino said, “this incident reminds us of the pointless column ‘If it’s war the Asians want…It’s war they’ll get’…While the column and this recent attack may not be linked, it demonstrates that an atmosphere of intolerance exists at the University.” Police have released a sketch and are still searching for the subject.
Midwest Office – October 2008: The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) responded to a recent activity during spirit week at Union Grove High School in Wisconsin where an assistant principal was to wear an inflated sumo costume to wrestle someone selected by the student body.
In a letter to Union Grove High School Principal Alan Mollerskov, JACL Midwest Director said, “Furthermore, this particular activity denigrates an ancient and venerated Japanese sport, which is rich in history and tradition.” The JACL hopes that the school leadership would exercise racial and cultural sensitivity in the future while arousing school spirit.
UPDATE: Alan Mollerskov, the principal of Union Grove High School, contacted JACL Midwest Director Bill Yoshino to inform him that the school decided not to proceed with plans to use an inflated sumo costume for its "Spirit Week" activities.
Honolulu, HI – September 2008: The Honolulu Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) responded to a series of unprofessional and offensive emails sent by the CEO of the Hawai'i Tourism Authority (HTA), Rex Johnson.
JACL Honolulu Chapter President Shawn L. N. Benton said in a recent press release, “These emails were deeply hurtful to the women and minorities who were denigrated within them.” The JACL calls upon Mr. Johnson to resign or that the HTA Board removes him from his position.
UPDATE: Rex Johnson extended his resignation on October 8, 2008 after a day long meeting of the HTA Board of Directors. Johnson has apologized for his actions but says he is not racist or sexist.
SOURCE: Honolulu Advertiser
National Office – September 2008: An offensive segment called “Farnfucious Say” has been aired CBS Mobile’s Farnsworth and the Fox on Youtube. The segment is introduced by a narrator that uses a mock Asian accent and uses a puppet portraying Confucius to deliver satirical philosophies.
“You should know better than to dress up tired racial stereotypes in the guise of comedy,” JACL Midwest Director William Yoshino, “We are deeply concerned that you have chosen to reinforce the use of negative stereotypes within a powerful medium, which effectively sanctions this slander among all who view it.”
National Office – August 2008: The JACL responded to the LPGA’s recent English-only policy which would suspend players who have been on Tour for two years if they did not successfully pass an English proficiency evaluation.
JACL National Executive Director Floyd Mori said, “The language requirement is clearly aimed at a specific cultural group of players who have excelled in the LPGA. It is ironic that when we have just completed the Olympics…the LPDA regresses into such an unacceptable policy.” The JACL urged the LPGA to reconsider this policy and respect the culture of their international players.
UPDATE: The LPGA announced Friday, September 5, 2008, that they have rescinded this policy and a new revised approach will be released by the end of 2008. Click here for the official press release
Pacific Southwest Office – August 2008: The 2008 Edition of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area Zagat Rating Guides used the term “JAP” throughout as an abbreviation for “Japanese.”
In a letter to Zagat Survey Co-Chairs Tim and Nina Zagat, JACL Pacific Southwest Regional Director Craig Ishii said, “As Zagat rating guides are used widely we appreciate it if you would join us in discouraging its use for future guides by using the proper abbreviation.”
National Office – August 2008: The JACL issued a press release chiding the Spanish basketball team for their racially offensive pose in an advertisement for a leading Spanish newspaper. The advertisement showed members of the basketball team pulling back the corners of their eyes.
In a letter to International Olympic Committee President Jacque Rogge, JACL National Director said, “There is a lesson framed within the fundamentals of the Olympic movement that promotes peace and the preservation of human dignity.” The JACL urged the Spanish Olympic Committee to be mindful of this lesson as they pursue their bid to serve as hosts in 2016.
Midwest Office – August 2008: During the Don Wade and Roma show aired on WLS AM on August 6, 2008, the hosts engaged in racist humor at the expense of Chinese and Chinese Americans laughed about serving dogs at Chinese restaurants and transposing the letter “r” for “l” in pronunciation.
“Mocking the culture of others and the manner in which they sincerely attempt to speak the English language is racially offensive,” said JACL Midwest Director William Yoshino in a letter to WLS AM Radio President and General Manager Mike Fowler. The JACL requested that WLS AM subscribe to higher standards and convey a lesson in human decency to the hosts of the show.
San Francisco Chapter - August 2008: The San Francisco Chapter of the JACL responded to the marketing of the Lingo Electronic Talking Translator by Brookstone Company, Inc. , which displays the term "JAP" along with "ENG" on the screen when the owner wishes to have a word or phrase translated.
"The abbreviation for Japanese is 'JPN' as 'JAP' is an offensive or derogatory term," said San Francisco Chapter President Hiroshi Shimizu in a letter to the President and CEO of Brookstone Company, Inc. The San Francisco Chapter requested that Brookstone Company, Inc. provide the manufacturer's contact information so that JACL can notify them about the offensive nature of the term and request they change the the term "JAP" tp "JPN." The San Francisco Chapter also requested that Brookestone discontinue advertising the translator until that has been done.
Midwest Office – August 2008: The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) responded to a recent website posting by Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) where the congressman titled an article, “Protecting our Families From Asian Invaders” The blog title was used to explain Knollenberg’s reaction to a consumer protection bill.
“The title is sadly reminiscent of racist sentiment that has targeted Asian Americans throughout our history in the United States,” said JACL Midwest Director William Yoshino in a letter to the congressman. The JACL requested that Congressman Knollenberg issue an apology for the terminology in the original title and exercise caution and diligence to eliminate the use of anti-Asian references in the future.
National Office – July 2008: On July 2, 2008, during a nationally televised Olympics swimming trial on USA channel courtesy of NBC, the abbreviation “JAP” appeared onscreen to indicate the country of the current world record holder in on the men’s events.
In a letter to NBC Sports Vice President Richard Ebersol, JACL National Director Floyd Mori states, “As you know, this term is a racial slur and we would like you to join us in discouraging its use.” Mori also requested that NBC Sports take extra cautionary measures to ensure that the proper abbreviation for Japan – JPN – is used. NBC Sports has yet to respond.
Midwest Office – July 2008: The Terrebonne Parish school board in Louisiana is considering a proposal requiring commencement speeches to be in English only after two co-valedictorians from Ellender High School thanked their parents by incorporating and translating a few brief words of gratitude in Vietnamese.
Concerned that this policy will devalue multiculturalism in education and infringe upon students’ freedom of expression, JACL Midwest Director, William Yoshino stated, “It is deeply troubling that a school would think to censor students for their bilingual abilities. Their multicultural roots should be celebrated, not punished.” The school board is still considering this policy.
National Office – June 2008: A release issued by the JACL in response to the recent string of hate crimes committed against the Sikh American community urges citizens to demand stricter enforcement of punishment against individuals who commit acts of hate and violence against others. This release follows a string of hate crimes concentrated in the New York City area and a report issued by the Sikh Coalition, which revealed that 40 percent of Sikh Americans in New York City experienced harassment because of their religion and 60 percent of all Sikh American students have experienced harassment because of their patkas.
“It is vital that everyone is treated with respect and dignity, regardless of religious background,” said Floyd Mori, JACL National Director.
Midwest Office - June 2008: A church van was spray painted with racial epithets in a shocking act of vandalism at Evergreen Presbyterian, a Korean church in Suwanee, Georgia. According to reports, the words “chink mobile,” along with a slew of other racial epithets, had been painted on the church van and much of the church property. Police uncovered swastikas and anarchy symbols spray painted on Evergreen Presbyterian church, in addition to crosses hung upside down and “Jesus is dead” scrawled on the church van. Most of the graffiti was first discovered as churchgoers were making their way to morning service on Sunday.
“Hurtful racial slurs like ‘chink’are only startling reminders that anti-Asian sentiment still exists, and can manifest in ugly and violent ways," said JACL Midwest Director William Yoshino. "It is also a solemn reminder that, 26 years after the murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, Asian Americans are still seen as one large indistinguishable, perpetually foreign people."
Midwest Office - May 2008: A Durham, North Carolina branch of McDonald's fast food restaurant has come under scrutiny following an in-store window ad that portrays a cartoon chef with slits for eyes advertising the McDonald's "new Asian salad."
"While the offense was likely unintended, please be aware of the fact that such images are found to be derisive by the Asian American community and much of the general public," said JACL Midwest Director William Yoshino. "The image, much like blackface “Sambos” in the 1930s and 1940s, relies on specific ethnic stereotypes and one-dimensional caricatures to convey humor."
Midwest Office - May 2008: A national televised Six Flags ad campaign is drawing unwanted attention after many in the Asian American community accused it of being "an outdated, debilitating stereotype only perpetuates the idea that Asians can’t speak English properly."
The most recent Six Flags television ad features a disembodied Asian man yelling the amusement park’s tagline, “More flags! More fun! Six Flags!” in a mock Asian accent. According to those who went in for the original casting call, Six Flags casting directors were specifically looking for an Asian man who could emulate Charlie Chan or who could “talk like [his] grandfather.”
"Though we understand the commercial was made for the purpose of humor, there is nothing funny about resorting to degrading jokes that prey on others for a cheap laugh." said JACL Midwest Director William Yoshino. "Surely, there must have been a host of other ways to create a humorous television commercial that did not rely on offensive, outdated stereotypes."
National Office - May 2008: Radio talk show “The Stephanie Miller Show” has been accused of mocking the Asian and Asian American community with its off-color impressions of Kim Jong Il. The recurring segment from comedian Jim Ward features impressions of numerous celebrities and icons, but the Kim Jong Il impression is the only one that relies on antiquated stereotypes of Asians to get a few laughs, according to the JACL. While many of Ward’s other impressions can be distinguished as the target celebrity, the Kim Jong Il impressions resort to mocking a Korean accent.
“Transposing “Ls” and “Rs” is by now an outdated joke that is undoubtedly in poor taste, and there certainly must be better ways to ridicule an isolationist dictator who has committed crimes against humanity than by making him say “Hirrary Crinton,” said JACL National Director Floyd Mori. The JACL is urging “The Stephanie Miller Show” to remove that particular skit from its segment.
Midwest Office - April 2008: Following a Chicago Sun-Times article on an offensive Fukudome t-shirt being sold outside Wrigley Field, the Asian American community is now calling for the Chicago Cubs to take action against the vendors of a racially offensive shirt. The shirt, which reads “Horry Kow” (a mock Asian accented version of Harry Caray’s “Holy Cow”) also features baseball player Kosuke Fukudome’s number on the back and a bear with slanty eyes and oversized glasses on the front. While some claim the shirt is meant to support the recent Cubs’ addition, Fukudome himself claims in the article that he is offended by the shirt, and the Cubs immediately condemned the shirt hours after the Sun-Times story surfaced.
"Not only do the shirts unwelcomingly mock Fukudome, a new addition to the Chicago Cubs franchise, they demean and belittle all Asian Americans, reducing them to little more than antiquated caricatures," said JACL Midwest Director William Yoshino. "While the vendor of these shirts claims to have made them in jest, this brand of humor is clearly outdated and racist." The JACL has also contacted Moe Wampum Inc, one vendor of the shirts, to cease sale of the offensive merchandise.
National Office - March 2008: The opening of a new Rhode Island restaurant, Chinese Laundry, has come under scrutiny for an advertisement it recently ran in the Providence Monthly newspaper. The ad depicts a naked East Asian woman’s chest and torso with the words, “Good things come to those who wait” printed below.
In a letter to Chinese Laundry, JACL National Director Floyd Mori states, "What is troubling about the image is not necessarily the nudity, but the tawdry exoticism and hypersexualization of Asian women, that is put on display. Women of Asian descent have long suffered the stereotype of being hypersexualized and subservient creatures, and this ad does nothing but pigeonhole the modern Asian American woman into that caricature."
Chinese Laundry owner John Elkhay eventually pulled the ad and responded briefly to the controversy in a press release issued on his website.
National Office - February 2008: A CNN segment on Asian American voters garnered an outraged response from the community for casting Asian Americans in a less than flattering light, implying that they are ignorant and racially prejudiced. Half a minute into the Feb. 8 segment reporter Gary Tuchman pokes fun at an Asian American who speaks with an accent and seems to say “Lincoln,” instead of “Clinton.” Two and a half minutes into the clip, he points out a woman who refers to the presidential candidate as “Clinton white lady.” The majority of those interviewed appear to have been plucked from an Asian grocery store and spoke broken English.
“This is hardly a fair representation of the Asian American population,” said JACL National Director Floyd Mori, who said the segment provided “little more than a passing glimpse into the vast demographic of Asian Americans who, indeed, do not speak with thick accents or vote based on fear of change.”
National Office - February 2008: A Campus Press column written by a student columnist at the Unviersity of Colorado at Boulder has gained national media attention for its "satirical" stereotyping and derisive comments against Asian American students in "If It's War The Asians Want... It's War They'll Get."
In a letter to the University of Colorado newspaper, the Campus Press, JACL National Director Floyd Mori says, " [I]t is difficult to find the humor and commentary in what appears to be nothing more than an attention-seeking stunt carelessly laced with hate speech. [...] If satire was the intent, it fell abysmally short in its display of judgment and sensitivity. [...] While satire often provides the reader with insightful social commentary or thought-provoking questions, Mr. Karson’s column is hardly tongue-in-cheek. It is just offensive." Campus Press staff have since been required to attend diversity training and CU administrators have offered an apology.
National Office - February 2008: A pair of SalesGenie.com commercials that ran during the Super Bowl have come under fire for making use of ethnic sterotyping and racial humor against Asian Americans. The more offensive of the animated television spots features two Chinese pandas, “Ching Ching” and “Ling Ling,” who also spoke with mock Asian accents. In a letter to the CEO of SalesGenie.com, JACL National Director Floyd Mori says, " These television commercials are offensive because they reduce Asians to caricatures that feed into one-dimensional racial stereotypes portraying Asians as foreigners. [...] While we understand that you meant for the ads to be humorous, there are other ways to be funny without having a laugh at the expense of an entire group of people."
Midwest Office - December 2007: A television spot airing on FOX from a local Chicago suburban car dealership has ignited the outrage of many local Asian Americans who find the ad offensive and racist. Featuring an exaggerated, fake sumo wrestler with the words “Import Dealer” stamped across his chest, the ad’s antagonist is depicted by a white male costumed in what can only be described as yellowface. Sporting a pseudo-Asian accent, he is seen being chased around by a white car salesman in a Superman outfit. In a letter to South Oak Dodge, JACL Midwest Director William Yoshino says he is “appalled and disappointed that such a blatant use of xenophobia would be exhibited in a television spot on major local networks.” After talks with FOX Chicago, the network has since decided to pull the ads from its broadcast.
Florida - November 2007: A Florida auto shop with the name “Jap Tech” has offended locals in Naples, FL with its racist name. The shop caters to Honda and Acura car owners, though it is unclear as to whether the shop’s owners are aware of the slur in their company’s title. In a letter to the company, JACL Midwest Director William Yoshino states that “You may see the term as a shorten form of the word “Japanese” without taking into account its historical use. Be assured that Japanese Americans and an enlightened public understand the shameful history and vile meaning that this term carries.” No response has been heard from the auto shop as of yet.
National Office - November 2007: Over Thanksgiving weekend a Sikh cab driver in Seattle was brutally attacked in what is being charged as a hate crime. On Nov. 24, two Seattle police officers asked Sukhvir Singh, 48, to escort home an intoxicated football fan who had been kicked out of Husky Stadium. In the cab, the 20-year old man began to attack Singh, pulling off his turban and yanking out clumps of his hair, all the while hurling racial slurs at him, calling him “an Iraqi terrorist," and beating him until Washington state troopers arrived. Floyd Mori, National Executive Director of the JACL, stated, “Japanese Americans know well how war time hysteria can lead to the sting of hatred. Loyal Americans come in diverse ethnic cultures, each individual American, regardless of religion and ethnicity should have the right to practice their faith without fear of violence or discrimination.” Singh’s assailant is currently under investigation for third-degree assault and malicious harassment.
Midwest Office - October 2007: An update on the murder trial for the death of DU Doan, the 62-year old Vietnamese American fisherman who drowned after being shoved off a Chicago harbor: Since Doan’s death, local Asian American advocacy groups have met up with local police and detectives working on the case, who concluded that insufficient evidence existed to call the drowning death a hate crime. However, William Yoshino, Midwest Director of the JACL, said in a statement that "The meeting with the police detectives, while candid and forthcoming, didn't completely dispel notions that this was a hate crime. If Haley is convicted, it will be up to prosecutors to push for hate-related factors during the sentencing phase." John Haley, the “anti-racist skinhead” who pushed Doan, is currently awaiting trial.
New York/New Jersey - October 2007: A slew of racist graffiti and vandalism has surfaced on the East Coast over the past month in what police suspect may be a series of copycat incidents following the Jena Six case in Louisiana. Incidents include 22 swastikas chalked on the walls of a Manhattan high school, a giant swastika cut into a New Jersey field, and noose hangings in Long Island, at the University of Maryland, and on the door of an African American professor at Columbia University. In a release, National Director Floyd Mori stated, ““The hangman’s noose and the swastika, just like the slur ‘jap’, have historically been symbols of hate, and they will not be tolerated, whether as a prank or threat.” No one has been arrested yet for any of these incidents.
National Office - October 2007: Political pundit Ann Coulter has offended yet again. In an Oct. 8 appearance on CNBC’s “The Big Idea” with Donny Deutsch, Coulter claimed that Christians “want Jews to be perfected, as they say. […] That’s just what Christianity is.” In a release responding to the remark, National Director Floyd Mori said, “Coulter’s remarks on CNBC exhibit a profound ignorance of Judaism and the Jewish people. She misspeaks on behalf of Christians everywhere who do not share her warped belief that Jews need to be converted to Christianity in order to be ‘perfected.’” Coulter has not apologized for her remark.
Midwest Office - September 2007: Following the drowning death of a Vietnamese American fisherman off Montrose Harbor in Chicago, local Asian American advocacy groups have raised concern over the possibility that 62-year old Du Doan was the victim of a hate crime. John Haley, 31, has been charged with first-degree murder and is an alleged member of the “anti-racist skinhead” group. The drowning followed an incident in which another Asian American was harassed earlier that morning, and another man with allegedly “Asian features” who was shoved into the harbor a month prior. Bill Yoshino, Midwest Director issued a statement warning, “If, as it appears from this pattern of violence, Asian Americans are being targeted, members of our community should exercise all due caution by not putting themselves at risk in situations similar to that of Mr. Doan.”
National Office - September 2007: Amid the controversy surrounding the “Jena Six,” a group of black teenagers charged with the beating of a white youth in Louisiana, the JACL National Youth Student Council issued a statement expressing the apparent biased treatment given to the youth. “As student and youth representatives of the JACL, we empathize with the black students in Jena as we have also been the target of discrimination and racism on school playgrounds and inside classrooms. We hope that this incident sheds light on the critical state of race and youth in our society,” said Brandon Mita, a representative from the Youth Student Council. The incident followed a series of other racially-charged incidents in which white perpetrators were allegedly not disciplined as harshly, if at all. The Jena Six were initially charged with attempted second-degree murder, but the charges have since been reduced.
Cincinnati Chapter - August 2007: Outraged responses are coming in from all sides to an AM radio station’s controversial parody ads, “How to Spot an Illegal Alien,” which features tips, such as how to say "Be careful with those hedge clippers around the garden gnome” in Spanish. Elizabeth Sato, president of the JACL’s Cincinnati chapter, issued a letter to the general manager of WLW 700 AM, stating “The recent 'Talk to an Illegal Immigrant' spots WLW ran were tasteless and offensive to more than just the Latin American community. ... Since it is clear that the diversity training recommended after the previous incident either wasn't taken seriously or folks at WLW are slow learners, maybe economic sanctions will reinforce the lesson.” Latino American communities have not yet forgotten the “Big Juan” billboards the same station recently posted (and subsequently took down after protest) which featured a picture of a Mexican man in a sombrero and a donkey in the ad.
National Office - August 2007: In response to Rob Schneider’s use of yellowface – resulting in his character looking like a caricature of Asian features – in the recent film, “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” the JACL issued a letter to Universal Pictures and a press release stating, “Schneider's characterization offends the community by furthering the emasculation and degradation of Asian American males in the media, promoting the outright ridiculing of Asian Americans, and inadvertently admitting that some members of Hollywood would still rather put actors in yellowface than hire qualified Asian American actors – of which there are many -- to play roles in a dignified manner.” Schneider’s character sports oversized teeth, thick glasses, and speaks heavily accented, broken English, and has been called the “most offensive Asian caricature since Mickey Rooney's notorious yellow-face performance in Breakfast at Tiffany's” by some film critics.
Portland Chapter - July 2007: A local Portland newspaper has published a series of articles in which the derogatory term "Jap" is used repeatedly and unabashedly. The St. John's Review writer, Jim Spiers, claims that "it's far better to be historically accurate than to fold under the pressures of today's nonsensical notion of changing names to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent." John Kodachi, JACL Portland Chapter President, responded in a letter to the editor that "It's not about changing names to protect the innocent, but rather, understanding the negative and dehumanizing effect caused by racial epithets today."
Midwest Office - May 2007: A Japanese web magazine based in LA adopted the moniker "Jappy Girl" in its marketing campaign, unaware of the racially negative connotation the term holds for Japanese Americans. In a statement to the magazine's editors, JACL Midwest Director Bill Yoshino, wrote, "You should be aware that the term "Jap" and its derivatives such as "Jappy" are racial slurs. […] Racial slurs such as "Jap" or "Jappy" have been used to dehumanize and demean Japanese Americans for over a century," urging them to desist in using the term to promote the magazine, which was supposed to be a portmanteau for "Japanese" and "happy". The magazine has since acknowledged the slur and changed its name to JPy.
Midwest Office - May 2007: Amid a series of correspondences between a City of Tokyo tourism representative and Altour, a New York-based tourism company, one of Altour's employees commented in an email, "From the wonderful folks who brought you Pearl Harbor." Aki Hiraki, the tourism representative, brought the matter to the JACL's attention, and an apology for the remark was promptly issued by Altour.
Watsonville-Santa Cruz Chapter - May 2007: Racist graffiti and a fake bomb were found on the Scotts Valley High School campus in Santa Cruz County, CA, shutting down the school for a day. Graffiti included a four-foot swastika and racial expletives, allegedly targeting those of Asian and Mexican descent. Paul T. Kaneko, First Vice President of the chapter, responded in a statement that the incident was "disappointing, disturbing and reprehensible. We are concerned that it happened at all, and that it is not an indication of something more sinister. It is encouraging to know that the School District and the High School quickly responded with the closing of the school to investigate the situation and quickly condemned the acts of vandalism and hate." Police believe the vandalism is tied to an Aryan organization in the area.
Midwest office & San Francisco Chapter - April/May 2007: National JACL/Ford Fund Program Fellow Brandon Mita and the JACL San Francisco Chapter expressed shock as well as urged for the firing of CBS owned New York radio disc jockeys. WFNY-FM's Jeff Vandergrift and Dan Lay prank calls a Chinese restaurant and tries to order "shrimp flied lice." Additionally, the show hosts mock the employees. Click here to read a copy of Mita's letter. The San Francisco Chapter of the JACL voted to condemn the actions of the radio station's disc jockeys and wrote this letter to CBS Radio Chairman and CEO, Joel Hollander. The DJs, along with the show, have since been dropped from CBS.
Midwest Office - April 2007: The shootings at Virginia Tech have recently prompted one high school administration to take action against an Asian American student. Allen Lee, an 18-year-old straight-A student at Cary-Grove High School, was arrested Tuesday near his home and charged with disorderly conduct for an essay police described as violently disturbing but not directed toward any specific person or location. Bill Yoshino, JACL Midwest Director, wrote a letter to Illinois State's Attorney as well as e-mails to Cary-Grove High School Principal, Susan Popp. In both communiqué, Yoshino cautioned against the idea of racial profiling and the connection between Cary-Grove student, Allen Lee, and Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho.
Midwest Office - April 2007: JACL Midwest Director Bill Yoshino reacted to the beating of an Asian American student at Auburn University where the student said he was targeted in the wake of the incident at Virginia Tech. In his letter, Yoshino, stated, "We urge a thorough investigation into this attack, which resulted in physical injuries to the victim for the purpose of apprehending the perpetrators. We also urge that this assault be investigated as a possible hate crime…The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) cautioned against reprisals directed at Asian Americans in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy knowing that the potential for this existed…We further urge that Auburn University take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of its student from bias motivated attacks."
Washington DC Office - April 2007: In the aftermath of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, JACL National Director, Floyd Mori issued a statement with the following "the potential for negative reactions or backlash toward individuals in the Asian American community exists inasmuch as an Asian was identified as the gunman. The JACL cautions against misguided reprisals directed at Asian Americans. We want to reinforce this at the local level by asking our chapters to maintain a heightened degree of vigilance in monitoring for hate incidents and hate crimes. We ask that you be prepared to respond to acts of defamation or hate crimes . If you need assistance in responding, please contact one of our offices. Please contact Bill Yoshino regarding any general questions you may have related to this. Thank you for your vigilance. Click here for a copy of the JACL press release regarding the Virginia Tech incident.
Midwest Office - April 2007:The JACL responded to radio commentator, Don Imus, after his comments criticizing the Rutgers women's basketball team by calling them "nappy headed hos." To read the JACL's position, click here.
Midwest Office - April 2007: Mike Reynolds, owner of a Chinese take-out and delivery restaurant called Eggrolls Etc. in Tucson, Arizona, thought it would be clever to post advertisements stating, "Every order is delivered via rickshaw by first generation Chinese immigrants…We should really charge more for delivery, old Chinamen are getting expensive." In response to the Asian American community's complaints to the advertisements, Reynolds states, "I don't see why I would be required to stop doing what I spend my money on because a minority of people are upset." William Yoshino, Midwest Director, reacted by sending a letter to Reynolds stating, "Your logic for maintaining the ad is shameful. You indicate that you can spend your money in anyway you deem fit regardless of whether it offends a "minority" of people. Your right to speech is clearly protected, but at what price? The minority of people you mention constitutes the Asian American community throughout this country who do not consider the use of this racial slur as a joke. You are playing a game of racial arrogance that only causes harm to an entire group of people."
Midwest Office - March 2007 [Update from October 2006]: In October 2006, William Yoshino, Midwest Director for the JACL responded harshly to Verla Clevenger, a school board member for a high school in Midlothian, Illinois, who used racially offensive slurs in electronic messages over a controversy involving the dismissal of the school's superintendent. Since then, Rev. David Mensing, a member of the Bremen H.S. District 228 Board of Education, informed the JACL Midwest Office that the Board adopted a resolution expressing regret "that this incident reflected poorly upon our school district. Moreover, we want to assure the public that the Board in no way practices or condones racial and ethnic prejudice and intolerance, nor does it discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation." In a separate communication with the JACL Midwest Office, Vera Clevenger apologized for her use of racial slurs.
Midwest Office - January 2007 [Update from December 2006]: On January 10th, Bill Yoshino, participated in a press conference stating that the Asian American community is adamantly opposed to dedicating a Chicago park district ball field in the name of Mike North, a local radio broadcaster who used the slur "chinaman" in referring to Chicago Cubs Korean pitcher, Jae Kuk Ryu. Later that evening, Yoshino and members of the Asian American community testified before a packed local school council meeting at Senn High School. The local school council rescinded their original support for naming the field for North and referred the decision back to the city councilman who determined that the field would not be named after Mike North.
Pacific Northwest Office - January 2007: Following articles marking the 70th anniversary of the Rape of Nanking, the JACL Pacific Northwest office received a voice message from an unidentifiable female who stated, "I'm only calling after looking at an article regarding Japan. I think your low birth rate is terrific. I think that what you did to Korea and China was incomprehensible. After looking at Japanese soldiers sticking a rifle up the vagina of a Chinese woman especially. I'm terribly sorry, by joining Hitler I know that your country was denigrated in some ways for being Asian, but by joining Hitler, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were deserved, but I obviously wish Germany and Austria had been wiped off the map. But that's history, and nobody seems to know what history is, and abuse is. All I ask is that people look at their own history."
Midwest Office - January 2007 [Update from December 2006]: Since December, Bill Yoshino and Brandon Mita, Program Fellow for the JACL, have sent letters of concern and video excerpts to the CEO and staff at Electronic Arts, a video game maker, drawing attention to sections where the racial slurs are used repeatedly in the game Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault to describe the Japanese soldiers. Electronic Arts replied with a general consumer response from communications director, Jeff Brown.
Midwest Office - January 2007: Midwest Director, Bill Yoshino, wrote a letter to Marinette County District Attorney, Brent DeBord, following the murder of Cha Vang in the woods just north of Green Bay, Wisconsin. James Nichols was arrested and charged with murder in addition to other charges. Yoshino urged DeBord to thoroughly investigate the possibility of a hate crime. This is the second incident where white hunters have clashed with Hmong hunters in the upper Midwest region. Additionally, in Yoshino's letter to DeBord he states, "It appears that the local community would benefit from a program that focuses on non-discrimination where the public is reminded that discrimination is illegal and the Hmong community is informed of their rights and encouraged to report discriminatory treatment."
Hoosier JACL - January 2007:Throughout the month of December and into January the northeast area of Indianapolis, Indiana, has been tagged with disturbing graffiti spray painted on several utility and traffic light boxes. In the photo, the message reads "Don't Buy Jap Crap." The local Hoosier JACL chapter has contacted local officials to clean and remove the offending message.
Midwest Office - January 2007: In North Dakota, two Japanese American students were the target of harassment and racial insensitivity as two white students approached them on several occasions calling them "slant eyes." Bill Yoshino, Midwest Director of the JACL, sent a letter to Merlin Dahl, Principal of the school, stating the students violated the school's non-discriminatory policy to prevent and handle situations that involve racial taunting.
Florin JACL Chapter - January 2007: In response to Senator Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) withdrawal of giving an award to Basim-El Karra of the Sacramento Coalition for American Islamic Relations, the Florin Chapter of the JACL wrote a letter to Senator Boxer condemning her actions in reneging on the award. Click to view a pdf of the letter.
Midwest Office - January 2007: An Asian American family on Chicago's southside has been harassed and their property vandalized by members of their community. In an email to the JACL Midwest office, a woman described the horrors of being called "chinks," and having rocks and pop cans thrown at them. Their home has been vandalized on several occasions. JACL has since referred the families to contact the Chicago Commission on Human Relations for follow-up. The JACL Midwest Office is closely monitoring this incident.
JACL National Office - December 2006: Floyd Mori, JACL Interim National Director, contacted NBC's top executives in regard to the usage of negative stereotypes of Asian Americans in a popular television series titled, "The Office." Throughout the show, Steve Carell has troubling distinguishing between two Asian women. In one scene, Carell takes a permanent marker and slyly draws a black line on one of the girl's arm to tell the two apart. Mori responds stating, "This action is abhorrent because it reduces these women to commodities and reinforces tasteless stereotypes of Asian women." The JACL has demanded that NBC apologize for its tasteless humor and never again use such negative stereotypes in their shows.
JACL Midwest Office - December 2006: Mike North, a Chicago sports radio broadcaster, who was challenged by the JACL earlier in 2006 for his usage of the word "Chinaman" when describing former Cubs pitcher Jae Kuk Ryu was close to having a Chicago high school field memorialized in his honor. Bill Yoshino, JACL Midwest Director, responded immediately and garnered support from the local Asian American community to halt the actions of the school board and the local city alderman. The decision to name the field after North will be revisted at the the January school board meeting.
JACL Midwest Office - December 2006: Bill Yoshino, JACL Midwest Director, contacted Electronic Arts concerning a video game titled Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault that was released in 2004. The video game, which revolves around the Pacific Theater of the Second World War takes the participant through the missions of an active marine fighting against the Japanese Empire. What the JACL finds most disconcerting is the consistent use of the word "jap" throughout the game. Yoshino states, "Your usage of the term 'jap' perpetuates the use of this racial slur and may also send a message to youngsters that it is acceptable for them to use the slur depicted in Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault." The JACL has demanded that all remaining games be removed from the shelves and that content for the games is put under strict guidelines.
JACL NCWNP Office - October 2006: Patty Wada, NCWNP Regional Director, attempted to contact East Bay radio station KNBR over the on-air statements made by deejay Brian Murphy towards Japanese hot dog eating champion, Takeru Kobayashi. While on-air, Murphy labeled Kobayashi as "the little monkey." No formal response or apology from the radio station yet.
JACL Midwest Office - October 2006: Verla Clevenger, a school board member for a high school in Midlothian, Illinois, used racially offensive slurs in electronic messages over a controversy involving the dismissal of the school's superintendent. According to reports from the Daily Southtown, one of her emails stated "DAM JAPS CAN'T TELL ONE COLOR FROM ANOTHER MAYBE IT WS [sic] CHINA." William Yoshino, Midwest Director for the JACL, responded to Clevenger with a letter stating, that the JACL is "particularly incensed that in your position as a school board member, you do not recognize that the J-word is offensive and that you have not accepted responsibility for your intolerant behavior." Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch also publicly stated, "I'm extremely offended. I'm offended for my community, for the district…What she put in writing was just way out of line."
JACL Midwest Office - September 2006: Brandon Mita, Program Fellow for the JACL Midwest Office, responded to the use of a racial slur by a member of a congressional campaign in Minnesota. A campaign director from Representative John Kline's campaign repeatedly yelled at people driving foreign-made cars, who were entering a parking lot for an event of Kline's opponent, Coleen Rowley. The director screamed "another Jap car." He later issued a statement saying "I apologize if my words offended any Americans of Japanese descent, including my sister-in-law. I allowed my emotions to get the better of me and used a phrase commonly used in my youth. But which is now inappropriate and offensive." Mita's letter to the campaign indicated that "we are deeply disappointed by the behavior of the campaign director…be assured that his use of the racial slur did offend."
JACL NCWNP Office - September 2006: At an American Civil Liberties Union - Northern California (ACLU-NC) Townhall Meeting, one of the panelists, former White House Counsel John Dean used the phase "not a Chinaman's chance" when referring to the possibility of President Bush's possible impeachment for the White House. Patty Wada, NCWNP Regional Director, contacted the ACLU-NC concerning Dean's usage of the slur writing, "'Chinaman' is a racial epithet, and whether used hatefully with intent or uttered out of ignorance, it is derogatory and offensive. It is unbelievable that with his vast experience, Mr. Dean does not realize that "chinaman" is a disrespectful and insulting slur. The JACL cannot overstate our dismay that a man of his stature would invoke such language in any context."
JACL Midwest Office – August 2006: The JACL Midwest Office reacted to a Chicago Power 92 morning radio host's comments warning people not to go to Asia because cats and dogs are being killed and eaten. The radio host also said that the spread of AIDS in Asian countries is due to the large number of homosexuals. In a letter to the station, the JACL stated, "This distasteful display by the hosts illustrates their penchant for trying to invite controversy at the cost of smearing others."
JACL NCWNP Office – August 2006: Don Stott, a precious metals dealer, wrote a column in Gold Digest using derogatory phrases that included "Almond Eyes" and "Jap". JACL NCWNP Regional Director, Patty Wada, immediately responded with a letter to Stott raising concerns about the content of the article. No official response from Stott has been received. Click to view the pdf of the letter.
JACL Midwest Office – June 2006: Amidst a flurry of reports of misconduct on the part of Toledo's Tower 98.3 FM radio hosts by calling Asian American businesses and mocking them, the JACL Midwest Office issued a letter to the station calling the hosts' action an outrage. In addition to a letter, Bill Yoshino signed on to a nation-wide petition calling for, among other things, a formal apology.
JACL Midwest Office – June 2006: Mike North, a sports broadcaster for WSCR, a CBS owned radio station in Chicago, made reference to Chicago Cub pitcher Jae Kuk Ryu during a morning broadcast saying, "Who was the Chinaman on the mound the other day." Following a strong reaction by the Asian American community, North was forced to publicly apologize (click to view his apology.). A group of Asian Americans, including JACL Midwest Director Bill Yoshino, met with the station's management. A portion of the meeting consisted of reinforcing the harm caused by the use of slurs and stereotypes. The station management stated that they will not tolerate future incidents, indicating that they will invoke sanctions if it happens again. They also indicated they will provide diversity training for their staff as well as intensify efforts to hire Asian Americans.
JACL Midwest Office – March 2006: Reacting to a Munster, Indiana newspaper account, Bill Yoshino wrote and called the FBI in Indianapolis about an incident where the word “sand n-----” was scrawled on a garage door of a residence where the family’s car had been set afire a day earlier. The FBI indicated that they were aggressively pursuing the investigation taking into account the hate crime aspects surrounding the case.
JACL Midwest Office – March 2006: The JACL Midwest Office wrote to the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum located in Charleston, SC raising concerns about one of their programs in which scout troops are shown a World War II film depicting Japanese warplanes where the narrator uses the word “japs” repeatedly. The museum’s scout program, which awards citizenship and aviation badges, also has a flight simulator exercise where participants shoot down Japanese planes. In the letter, the JACL asked the museum to remove the film and change the flight simulator exercise. Click to view a pdf of the letter.
Hoosier JACL – February 2006: David Suzuki contacted WZPL-FM regarding their casual reference to “those Japs” during a conversation about video games. Suzuki contacted the radio station protesting the use of the term and reported the incident to the Human Relations Commission. Following discussions with Suzuki, the station manager, Phil Hoover, issued an on-air apology saying, “we all know the J-word has a hate-filled history, and to Japanese Americans it scars deeply.” He went on to state, “Sensitivity to and the promotion of diversity should remain priority number one for all of us and for all citizens.” Click to view his full response.
JACL Headquarters – October 2005: JACL national director John Tateishi wrote a letter to Newman’s Own, Inc., protesting the use of a stereotype on the packaging of Newman’s Own Chinese salad dressing that depicts a picture of Paul Newman with a Fu Manchu moustache and coolie hat.
Diablo Valley Chapter, San Francisco Chapter & JACL Regional Staff – September 2005: Diablo Valley JACL President Judith Aono, San Francisco JACLer Les Hata and NCWNP Director wrote letters to the Superintendent of the Orinda Union School District following the defacing of Glorietta Elementary School with swastikas and hateful graffiti that read, “Kill Jews,” “The KKK is God” and “Burn Jews.” The police were treating the incident as a hate crime. The JACL requested that affirmative steps be taken, such as instituting programs on diversity and tolerance and offered our assistance in creating such a program.
JACL Midwest Office – September 2005: Midwest director Bill Yoshino wrote a letter to the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor police department regarding an incident where two students urinated on two Asian American students as they walked beneath a balcony. Bill has maintained contact with the Ann Arbor police who continue to investigate the incident, which is also under investigation by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
JACL Pacific Southwest Office – September 2005: The PSW office contacted California State University Dominquez Hills after learning that the term “jap” was used as an abbreviation in the university’s Fall 2005 Class Schedule. The university acknowledged the error and made appropriate changes on its website and on future class schedules.
San Jose JACL – August 2005: Chapter President Tom Oshidari wrote to Cinequest to protest the screening of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for its racist and stereotypically-drawn character, Mr. Yunioshi, played by actor Mickey Rooney. California Assembly Member Judy Chu, who chairs the California Assembly Committee on Hate Crimes, also wrote a letter to urge that Cinequest cancel its screening of the film.
JACL Headquarters – July 2005: The National Director, NCWNP Chapters & JACL Regional Staff called and wrote letters to Radio Station Wild 94.9 FM in San Francisco and its owner Clear Channel to protest the hiring of Rick Delgado, who was fired in NYC for his part in producing and airing the racist and despicable “Tsunami Song.” NCWNP Director attended a downtown rally in San Francisco to protest the same.
Portland JACL – July 2005: Chapter president Rich Iwasaki participated in a rally sponsored by the Muslim American community condemning the senseless acts of violence in London Egypt and Iraq. The rally was held on July 30 at the Terry Schrunk Plaza.
San Francisco JACL – June 2005: NCWNP director Patty Wada spoke at an Asian American community meeting with 49ers owner John York about its team training video that demeaned Asian Americans, women, and gays & lesbians. NCWNP Director participated in composing a joint letter with other APA organizations to protest the video and demand appropriate action by the team.
Dayton, OH – June 2005: Ron Katsuyama chaired a task force that wrote the University of Dayton Policy and Procedures for responding to hate crimes and bias-related incidents on campus. Ron also gave a presentation at an FBI conference in Cleveland on campus hate crime policies.
JACL Lodi Chapter, Florin Chapter, Sacramento Chapter, Stockton Chapter – June 2005: Reached out to the Muslim American community following the arrest of two Pakistani Americans in Lodi on suspicion of terrorist activities. NCWNP Director wrote letters to both Lodi Mayor John Beckman and Lodi Chief of Police Jerry Adams on the need to guard against backlash that may be directed toward the Muslim American community in light of the fear generated by the arrests and the media.
JACL Watsonville Chapter – May 2005: Paul Kaneko sent a letter to New Jersey 101.5 FM, protesting the remarks of their morning radio hosts who made outlandish remarks regarding the mayoral candidacy of a Korean American. (The radio hosts, Craig Carton and Ray Rossi apologized on-air for their remarks.)