Japadog: A Disgusting Fusion of Corporate and Ethnic Racism

Photo Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times
Photo Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times


Japadog? Really? Is The Los Angeles Times really promoting racism by playfully using a racist slur in their headlines to highlight a fusion of Japanese food and hot dog? What is a Japadog? Wasn’t the reporter, Jenn Harris, even thinking when she wrote the story that Japadog would be offensive? Obviously she’s Asian American, and possibly Japanese American, but doesn’t she realize that Japadog is offensive?

I wonder, if an African American reporter would have done a story in South Los Angeles, (a predominately black and African American neighborhood) about a person from the continent of Africa who created a fusion delicacy: Southern food with hot dogs and called it N*ggadog? I’m sure the editors would throw the story away and wouldn’t think about posting this online.

Yet the story Harris wrote, she being Asian and all, and the word Jap does not have the same bite as the “N” word…which would be OK. Well it’s not. We are not Japs and neither the editors nor some immigrants from Japan can speak for Japanese Americans and assume that Japadog is OK.

This is what happens when the so-called model minority is placed in second class status. We are either a successful ethnic group that transcends racism or our culture is no longer a culture but so Americanized that using the word Jap in Japadog is not a big deal.

Another thing that bothers me is when an immigrant from Africa wishes to be creative, they are silenced but it’s OK for an immigrant from Japan to be racist? Why, are black folks that weak? Well, they are not. Racism from any group is racism and must end. When Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone said —

“Since there are black people, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans in the United States,” he said, according to Japanese TV and newspaper reports,  ”its level of intelligence is lower on the average.”

— there was a giant uproar. Now, by pointing out the racism from The Los Angeles Times‘ article, I’m sure I’ll be accused of pulling out the race card like my last story —

Though Correct to Step Down, Shinseki Was A Victim of Racism

— when I pointed out the racism by the Republicans. Apparently, there is a two-tiered system when it comes to racism, either out on main street or in the corporate world…like The Los Angeles Times.

Japanese Americans are People of Color and we are also minorities. We experience racism and violence and, get this, we are the second largest ethnic group behind whites when it comes to using social services.

Also, Asian American women and girls have the highest suicide rate according to the CDC…so much for the model minority, right? The damage is already done. The story is out and now people wanting to try this fusion of traditional Japanese food on a hot dog will now ask for a Japadog. Sadly, the term Jap will be acceptable and not a pejorative that needs to be removed from the U.S. and now world language lexicon.

26 Replies to “Japadog: A Disgusting Fusion of Corporate and Ethnic Racism”

  1. Japadog is the name of the company. It is Japanese-owned and based in Vancouver, BC. They have recently opened a cart in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.

    I am not sure if the owners are aware of how loaded the name is, but there is room for conversation, I would hope.

  2. Sean, that’s why I wrote the story. It’s not just to the store owners, but to The Los Angeles Times. Again, the editors would freak if an African National were to create a Southern/Hot Dog company Called N*gadog, but Japadog is OK?

  3. This is so disgusting on so many levels and should offend any reasonable human being. Boycott them with extreme prejudice. Regardless their ethnicity, that word is a hateful racist slander.

  4. I think I’m more offend by political usa and the readers reaction to the la times story. Go to Vancouver, the Japdog has been around forever. There is a street food cart that is run by Japanese people who serve the “Japdog” http://www.japadog.com

  5. Honestly though? Besides boycotting them? Send The Los Angeles Times an email or Tweet them @LATimes or post this story on Facebook at Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles Times should not be excused.

  6. Why are you offended? Because I pointed out the two-tiered form of racial inequity from The Los Angeles Times? That’s fine you have your own opinion, but as a Japanese American, I find it offensive that Asian Americans are treated the way we are and we as Asian Americans condone or even shy away from controversy because we are the “model minority”

    What our ancestors did in the past by invoking the Asian culture of enduring problems (gaman:我慢) because Shikata ga nai (仕方が無い (它不能幫助)) or it cannot be helped, by not voicing our opinions, we were placed into concentration camps…by a Democratic President.

    No, Neither I nor members of the liberal Asian American community will ever shut up or remain silent to the governmental or corporate racism our ancestors faced. Oh and Raymond, if you’re a conservative, remember, it was the Republican party that voiced their disgust when the Democratic Party put our people into concentration camps…chew on that idea for awhile.

  7. Okay, calm down people. It’s a real stretch to assume or suggest that the name “Japadog” has a connotation with the pejorative and offensive “Jap.” Seriously – it’s simply a catchy contraction of “Japanese Hotdog” – selected as a name for a business to convey succinctly what they purvey: Unique hotdogs with a Japanese fusion twist. As a piece of marketing, it’s brilliant. And harmless. Like “Afridog” might be for an “African Hotdog”. I’m African, and that wouldn’t offend me in the least. Yes, “N*gadog” would be a different story, as would “N*padog”, to use another example closer to your sensitivities. This is a Japanese-Canadian business, loved and respected in Vancouver. Nobody is trying to slur anyone, least of all the owners themselves.

    Would “Canadog” be better? Get it, a Canadian Hotdog? A Mexidog, or a Cubadog, Italidog, Aussiedog, Czechodog? See my point – We’re taking the name of a nationality, abbreviating it, and appending it to ‘dog. That’s…

  8. Look, I fully get that there is a particular sensitivity here with a particular racial slur. But ask yourself this: Because an certain contraction of the word “Japanese” or Japan – “Jap” – is historically offensive, are you saying that so too is any other contraction-derivative name invoking Japanese origin? Seriously, I can’t say Japa-anything without offending you? What’s with the cultural shame here? If I were you, I’d be proud of a name suggesting or claiming Japanese influence. Own it. Celebrate it. What about the well-known Japanese tourism website Japanican.com, for example?

    No-one should ever diminish the very real and incredibly hard struggle of Asian minorities against racism in America, but this isn’t a worthwhile part of it. I think you’re getting waay overly worked up over what amounts to your own semantic misreading and mischaracterization of a harmless business name.

    (And BTW, the ‘dogs are delicious.You should try one and support Japanese-America…

  9. Not a valid comparison. Try again. “Japa-” as a prefix to suggest Japanese fusion or origin is wholly different to use of the the slur “Jap” or “Chink” or the N-word as is referenced in Tim’s article. You guys are really stretching semantics here. Japacurry.com, anyone living in the Bay Area? Or does that offend you too…

  10. Comparing “jap” or “japa” to the overused n-word isn’t viable in the least. The history isn’t the same nor does it carry the same weight, consequences or meaning.

  11. Japdog is the name of the company, which is known. frankly I say Japs as a shorter version of Japanese, and there is no racism involved, just laziness.

  12. Non Japanese Americans can’t comprehend the terminology. It was recently that the term N@gg@r was deemed offensive, because of political pressure and corporations like The Los Angeles would avoid any form of the derogatory word in any fashion, except when it’s in context of a story but then again, they would use the special keys to quote someone or something.

    Yet again, if a Nigerian were to used N@gdog because that person combined Nigerian food with a hot dog, The Los Angeles Times would either kill the story or put an asterisk. Why? Because they feel that it would be offensive to African Americans and black folks.

    I’m sure you would do a second look. But why then is it acceptable for a corporation to censor one ethnic group and be sensitive and not to another? James, I don’t expect you to understand if you’re not a Japanese American, but show some respect and know people like me are offended, and not use racial double standard like The Los Angeles Times has done.

  13. So it’s OK for a Nigerian to create a fusion of Nigerian food on a hot dog and call it N*gedog or something similar? No? Then Japadog should then be equally offensive.

  14. So is N*G short for Niger lazy too or racism? If it’s lazy, not being black or Japanese, I don’t expect you to understand, but to respect our belief.

  15. Here is an addendum:

    D.C. Mayor Acted ‘Hastily,’ Will Rehire Aide

    Williams said that one of the employees, identified by Howard as Marshall Brown, interpreted Howard’s remark as a racial slur. Brown has declined to comment on the incident.

    In a private meeting yesterday, Williams asked Howard to return to the Office of the Public Advocate. Howard declined but said he would accept another job in Williams’s administration.

    Howard, 44, said yesterday that he never felt “victimized” but that the experience has given him “a certain awareness” he did not have before the incident occurred.

    The Los Angeles Times would never use the word niggardly, which means stingy in their paper as an adjective…why? Are blacks too stupid or too sensitive? That there is racist.

  16. Little history lesson Tim: The N-word has nothing to do with Nigeria. It is a derivative of the antiquated word “Negro” which refers to people from all over Africa. So, to be clear, the idea of a Nigerian-derived hotdog being called a “Nigerdog” shouldn’t offend at all. Yes, I can see the potential here for a “second look” as you put it, Tim, but it’s totally different. It doesn’t even sound like “N*ggadog” would. It’d be more more like “Nigh-jer-dog”. So no, that’s not valid as an argument either. Yup, I’ve thought about this, quite considerably actually, and frankly I think you’re trying to find offense in something where it just isn’t. Your time and commendable energy would be far better spent fighting more overt and obvious racism – of which, sad to say, there is plenty in this so-called “greatest country in the world.” Last I’ll say on this, as I’m hungry, and I’m going out to track down that awesome Japanese-style hotdog cart. Good night and goo…

  17. Again, and most get this, I am was NOT writing about the roach coach, but how The Times and their policy on editing. Again I ask, why is it that The Times would refuse to write or use the word niggardly as an adjective when they write a story yet have no issues when incorporating words like Jap or Chink?

    At a White supremacist rally, reporters quote a racist by saying”…Jews and n***ers…” yet when the a racist says Chink or Jap, there is no asterisk?

    I have no issue with the owners of the fast food joint. I have issues with the editing process of The Los Angeles Times.

  18. Tim, I take your point. Ch*nkdog, G**kdog, and indeed, J*pdog, would all warrant an asterisk. However, that’s not what the Times is reporting. It’s the second ‘a’ that makes all the difference here: Japadog is a world away from J*pdog linguistically speaking, and I actually commend the Times for their linguistic accuracy in recognizing that the name, as spelled, is simply not racist, and therefore doesn’t warrant the asterisk. Further, I challenge you to find an example in the Times where the words “Ch*nk”, “J*p” or G**k” are not asterisked. On the other hand, I’d argue that asterisking any slur at all is questionable. I mean come on, we all know what they say – does it make it less offensive to see it with a letter missing?! How pathetic of us, if we as a public can be so easily pacified. Many British papers do not resort to this practice. I think this can be attributed to a cultural maturity on race issues that does not yet exist in America.

  19. And explain this to me: You say have no problem with the owners of the business, presumably for selecting the name. Yet, you have such a problem with the name, that you’re pissed at the LA Times for not asterisking it, because it’s racist? How can you be so upset with a racist name, yet not have issue with the owners who actually USE it? Jeez, the LA Times is just reporting on it, legitimately and factually. And aside from the fact that it’s not racist anyway, why should the Times asterisk something that’s already all over the street in multiple cities, on Yelp, in LA Weekly, and on and on and on? Should it be asterisked on the side of the truck? On the internet? No, of course not. That in itself is proof that it is simply not worth freaking out about.

    You have to admit, your argument is not stacking up. At ALL. Lame article, frankly, serving no purpose but to stir up racial tension where none existed in the first place.

  20. And finally, using the LA Times’s own search tool to prove your entire argument against the Times’s alleged “racist inconsistency” 100% baseless:

    Nigger – 19 hits. All of them unasterisked, all of them referring to the racial slur.

    Chink – 33 hits, but most of them using the word as “chink in the armor”, an expression having nothing to do with Chinese people.

    Jap – 16 hits, several of which were unrelated to the racial slur (one referred to the Korean dish “jap chae” and another, some guy’s name)

    Sheesh, all this because I Google-searched a hotdog cart and happened upon your article. Good night, I think we’re done here.

  21. The word base is not Jap, as you assume. It is Japadog, not Japdog. The source word is Japan. Are we supposed to stop using the words Japan and Japanese? Your wild assumption show your paranoia.

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