I'm posting this because I've often been asked if I am offended by the word "Jap". The answer is, yes. I am.

'Jap Road' to Get Name Change

BEAUMONT, Texas (Reuters) - A decade-long fight over a quiet country lane called "Jap Road" ended on Monday when local officials voted to change the racially charged name.

[...]

"It's our history, it's our heritage. I can remember when it was a dirt road, now it's being portrayed as a racial divide between us and the Japanese-Americans," Earl Callahan, born and raised on Jap Road, told the commissioners.

[...]

"People believe in this country that we're a bunch of racists. There's not a soul here that would call anybody a Jap," he said.

First of all, I still hear people using the word "Jap" and can't imagine that "not a soul" in Beaumont would use the word "Jap". I for one am glad there is no longer a street in Beaumont, Texas called "Jap Road" named after a Japanese. I was often called a Jap when I was growing up in Michigan and it was usually accompanied by emotional and sometimes physical abuse. This childhood experience probably created a very negative association in my brain, and I assume that many Japanese-Americans have had a similar experience to me.

Now, even when they are referring to the "Jewish American Princess" I still wince when I hear the word Jap. It's hardwired in my brain. So that's why when I hear:

But road resident Jason Marshburn, 31, disagreed.

"It feels like we're in the middle of a George Orwell novel. It's like me suing Keebler or Nabisco because the word 'cracker' is offensive to us white people," he said.

I think he's missing the point. If the word "cracker" made him wince when he heard it, it would be a parallel, but I can't imagine anyone in the US getting flashbacks to abuse when they hear the word "cracker".

Via KS

47 Comments

I'm glad that they've changed the name of the road, though it could be -- and I have no idea if it is, mind you -- one of those flubs where the road's name had nothing to do with a racial slur. For example, there was an English motorcycle engine manufacturer in the last century named "Jap", named after the founder's surname (he also was of English extraction). Therefore, it was perfectly legitimate at one time -- in a very particular frame of reference -- to refer to "Jap engines" not of Japanese design or manufacture.

In a similar vein, a DC administration staffer got in huge trouble after using the word "nigardly" in a meeting in its proper context. Unfortunately, the audience thought the word had a different origin and connotation than it did (the OED points out that the word has nothing to do with slavery, people of color, etc.) and his career was shot down on the spot.

With regards to "cracker," I can say that members of mine and my wife's family of poor, rural, and southern origin (still largely poor, rural, and southern) do clearly remember a time when "cracker" was a seriously hurtful class-based slur, used by white people of means -- usually wealthy rural land and factory owners and such -- as well as people of color.

This does not mitigate anyone's genuinely hateful speech or actions, but I think it is useful to point out that this isn't as straightforward a dynamic as it may initially appear to be. OTOH, I have no clue why this road in rural Texas was called "Jap" road, so there ;)

Interesting. I'd never even heard of the slur "cracker" before...

Good points. I was really giving a rather personal opinion in my post above.

As for the origin of this particular road, the article says: " The four-mile road has been around about 100 years and was said to be named in honor of Yoshio Mayumi and his family, who introduced the region to rice farming."

Maybe they should change it to "Martin Luther King Boulevard." That way, Japanese tourists will know to stay away from the place, since Japanese tour guidebooks for the U.S. generally repeat the rule-of-thumb that any neighborhood near a MLK Blvd. is crime-ridden, crackhouse-infested, dangerous slum.

I wonder how Chinks Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia is doing. Chinese Americans were up in arms against them a few months back.

And what about "Gay or Asian" and the vicious attacks on the writer of that series of columns.

In general, I can't get excited about "racism" against Asian Americans: they are represented in most professions and universities in numbers greater than their percentage of the population, and I don't see what the problem is, other than than some sort of identity crisis. Grow a thicker skin.

Keith, I don't see why Asian Amercians being represented in professions and universities would allow you subject them to racial slurs. Biasing/discriminating/judging people based on their race is just plain wrong and it should not require the recipients to have "thicker skin". Those calling names should grow a sense of responsibility and decency.

but I can't imagine anyone in the US getting flashbacks to abuse when they hear the word "cracker"



Really? Are you positive? I was friends growing up with several white kids who were in the 10% minority of white kids in a 90% black school district. I know for a fact that they were harassed and abused physically and emotionally and taunted with the slur "cracker".


but I can't imagine anyone in the US getting flashbacks to abuse when they hear the word "cracker"



Really? Are you positive? I was friends growing up with several white kids who were in the 10% minority of white kids in a 90% black school district. I know for a fact that they were harassed and abused physically and emotionally and taunted with the slur "cracker".


Ok. Haters stop, shutup, and listen.

What Joi experienced was the result of ignorance.

The folks in Beamont? Ignorant.

In general, people don't give much thought to their actions and group think is a mutha.

Joi, don't give the SOBs an inch.

There is far, far more good in the blessed world then evil.

Peace and Love baby,
Douglass Turner

Growing up in rural North Carolina I got "jap" or "chink" from the local rednecks, as they weren't able to really pinpoint my Scottish/Pilipino ancestry. The slurs and their accompanying attacks were painful at the time (emotionally and physically), but now I recognize it as just another aspect of Bloom's conformity enforcement cog in the complex adaptive learning machine we call life. Each subculture is a hypothesis, and little victories like this one over Jap Road are slowly proving the racist ones wrong (I hope).

The comments from Keith point to two problems Asian Americans face in the U.S.

First, by mentioning Japanese tourists and Japanese tour books, Keith misses the fact that this is primarily an issue for AMERICANS of Japanese and Asian descent who object to using racial slurs as street names. Japanese nationals were not the proponents of the street name change and should not be confused with AMERICANS of Asian ancestry. Too often people lump AMERICANS of Asian ancestry with Asians from Asia. In Asian-American studies 101 this is called the "Perpetual Foreigner" syndrome. (Note: Asian Americans and Asians from Asia are not equivalent! Simplistic substitution does not work here!)

Secondly, with a classic rendition of the "Model Minority" stereotype Keith forwards the proposition that because "Asians" (that monolitic group...) are successful (in certain professions) they shouldn't object to demeaning and discriminatory treatment. (What are "they" complaining about!?!) It might be useful here to note that despite all the successful Asians you might see, there are many Asians in the U.S. who live below the poverty line, and "Asian America" is a diverse group comprising dozens of languages, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds. While some Asian Americans are successful and hold prominent positions, others fight housing and employment discrimination, or work several low wage jobs to make ends meet. "They" are not monolithic group! The "Model Minority" stereotype is not a valid way to excuse ignorance!

Unfortunately it is too easy to find situations where people revert to these stereotypes - that of the "Perpetual Foreigner" and the "Model Minority". It's just more saddening perhaps to see it here.

I would never condone using racial slurs such as 'nigger' or anything equally demeaning.

But, I've never been able to understand the mentality that Joi supports here -- that is, trying to get other people to stop using language that offends _me_.

I just don't see it as the right way to go about things. When people say something demeaning about whites or Americans (of which I count myself one), I tell them they're wrong, they're full of crap, and I tell them why. I don't say to them "please stop using that word... It offends me and hurts my feelings."

I don't know. It could be that I'm just a cold-hearted bastard and I have a really thick skin. Maybe I shouldn't judge people based on my own sense of things, but unfortunately, that's all I've got.

In this case, it strikes me as nitpicking to try to change the name of this rural road 50 years after WWII. Japanese, IMHO, are not significantly discriminated against in the U.S. I tend to think that what Joi experienced is the same thing most of us experience as kids, that is, being ridiculed for simply being different. I was made fun of for being fat at the time, and others were made fun of for other differences. Kids latch onto any old phrase that suits describing that difference... and preferably one that rhymes. ;) And in any rural area, in the U.S. or Japan, foreigners are made fun of out of ignorance rather than racism.

I hate to see people clinging to racism or bigotry, but I also hate to see people clinging to memories of racism or bigotry. I really do not mean to impugn Joi for being offended, but I wish he could move beyond this and see that he doesn't need to justify his identity, especially to an old road.

Racist words have no power but to reveal the ignorance of their speaker... unless we give them more.

Self and other.
Individual and group.
Intent and meaning.
Integrity and respect.

Balance, balance, balance.

Like I said, it's my personal experience and opinion. I think I have fairly thick skin and also I wince when someone says, "Jap" I've never really done anything about it. (Even here and on IRC.) I'm just saying that it is how many Asian-Americans feel. You can't tell someone not to feel hurt or that they should have thick-skin. It's like shouting at someone to relax.

I think communities will decide how they feel. I think a lot depends on just how upset people get and how sensitive the community is to them. In Japan, they sell Nazi paraphernalia in stores and "Little Black Sambo" dolls, whereas "Little Black Sambo" is banned in the US and Nazi stuff is banned in France. I don't blame the US and France for banning them, but I understand why they aren't banned in Japan. At least not yet.

Vincent Chin was called a "Jap" before he was beaten and murdered.

Japanese Americans who were forced into internment camps were thought of as "Japs."

I am full of joy that the name is being changed.

The name was offensive, and the opposition to changing it was silly--just a bunch of locals disturbed by the sensibilities of outsiders. I can understand that sentiment, but since when in the name of a road a lasting part of a town's heritage?

I'm just glad that no wag proposed changing the name to Cracker Jap Road.

That would be fair and balanced.

Depending on how you look at it, this issue has potential as food for thought and as fodder for debate. Frankly though, I'm shocked to find that there was a "Jap Road" in my country and that there was a signifigant faction fighting to keep the road named as such. To me, debating the issue is conceptually equivalent to fighting for the right to piss and shit on the sidewalk.

I respect Texas and Texans, but they might be well advised to mind their P's and Q's. After all, their state produced the first corporate-stooge facsist to occupy the Oval Office. And now they've pinched off another gargantuan horsedootie right under our noses.

I'm an Italian-American. Most of us ignore racial slurs against us because we are thick-skinned and most of us just don't care. Of course, with our white skin, racism is easy for us to shrug off. That doesn't mitigate the ignorance of it, nor the stench it leaves behind.

Please. Remember the internment camps. Remember the 442nd. At least common sense prevailed in Texas. It's just too bad that someone with a Japanese last name had to get it started.

Joi,
I can understand for your concern about the word "Jap" and the sentiment that you have for wanting Jap Road to be changed.

I was concerned though, that in the same way that the 31 year old that is mentioned in your post about not understanding the context of why Jap might hurt your feelings that you gloss over the possibility that "but I can't imagine anyone in the US getting flashbacks to abuse when they hear the word 'cracker'."

As a couple of the commentors have mentioned them specifically feeling hurt by this as well...

Any label has the opportunity to offend and hurt.

What I was suprised about in your post was you sharing your sensitivity, but not seeing the underlying mechanism, that would create the opportunity for "cracker" or whatever the label might be to hurt someone else.

"I can't imagine..." tells it all. I am sure that there are many people that don't understand how someone else could be hurt in this situation.

For me, it was growing up in a predominately Mexican-American neighborhood with the label "guero or blanco". (Hell, I am not "white". If anything, call me Irish-American). White, the word in itself, is a slur... at least in the situation that I grew up in.

Yes, we all must become more sensitive to each other, and understand that the underlying mechanisms in the first place... This is more than just about changing a bunch of names.... it is about evolving.

funny how 'brit' doesn't carry the same slur as 'jap'.

living in Japan for 8 year really opened my eyes on what it's like to be a minority.

I've seen apartment listings in old-fashioned real estate offices with the words: "no pets, foreigners, or mizushobai (sex-trade)".

I understood that landlords probably had a bad time with some foreigners, and wasn't offended at all, but like I said it was educational.

Power and privilege. The reason why "cracker" just doesn't have the same feel as "jap" is that either way you put it, white Americans are still the majority to utilize what is at their disposal. As a fellow Asian-American and "hyphenated" American, I find that it is sad that we do have to be sensitive to these issues but American racial dynamics simply bring on implications of violence and negativity.

Troy - I've also experienced some mild racism from some Japanese folks in Japan. I found those types more to be pitied than despised. And it strengthened my resolve to use positive action against racism in my own country. But yeah... it's surprising how unapologetically racist some Japanese nationals can be. I'll bet you'd agree that it's hardly a good reason to dispense "payback" in the home country though. Besides, in America, using the word "Jap" is an especially sensitive issue because of our recent past. The internment camps are a real black spot on our history. Our anguish over that shame is compounded by the realization that some of the very same Japanese-Americans who were incarcerated, fought harder and more bravely for us than any other unit in WWII.

And no, I'm not trying to kiss Joi's butt, or anything. Sycophancy aside, this is just one of those hot-button issues that gets my motor mouth revved up.

Kevin, regarding the "cracker" slur. I had just never heard it before. I think that if it offends people, we should be sensitive about it. I guess my point is that outdated slurs that have never been used against me really don't have the same impact of those which are "fresh". I was assuming "cracker" was an outdated one, but maybe mistakenly.

It's interesting to watch the comments on this post evolve. For the second time someone has confused AMERICANS of Japanese descent with Japanese nationals. Troy, you should realize you are comparing two entirely unequivalent things to each other. Xenophobia and racism amongst Japanese nationals in Japan does not have any relationship to the desire for Japanese-AMERICANS to eliminate the use of a slur which has very ugly connotations in AMERICAN history.

And yes to agree with another poster - the irony of Americans being stripped of their constitutional rights, incarcerated without charge, and then fighting in WWII to liberate other countries while their own families lived in horse stalls behind barbed wire at home is painful and not to be forgotten.

Our fight against the name of the street "JAP" has not ended, despite our victory in Jefferson County, TX for changing the name "Jap Road". There is a part 2 for it and this time, it's in Orange County, also in Texas. Since Orange County Commissioner or Judge refused to reconsider the name "Jap LANE", we should take it in our hands. First, our usual citizenspeak.org campaign, http://www.citizenspeak.org/campaign/2002.php (Please Rename Jap Lane!) Add your comment at the top, sign and pass it on! This one goes to Orange County Judges and some commissioners.

Also we have some info about direct contact e-mail address/phone numbers for Orange County officlals.

jcraft@co.orange.tx.us 409-882-7070 Judge Jacque Craft
jdenman@co.orange.tx.us (same phone number) Judge Jeannine Denman
cthibodeaux@co.orange.tx.us (same phone numbers) Judge Carl Thibodeaux


Commissioner Owen Burton 409-882-7038
Commissioner John Dubois 409-882-7038
Commissioner Beamon Minton 409-769-6724
Commissioner James Stringer 409-883-3481
Phone only, no e-mail.

Very well put Katherine. It is important to note that I am a Japanese who often gets mistaken for a Japanese-American, but I'm a Japanese. I'm a foreigner in your country. I used to be a resident of the US, but I gave my green card back years ago. My family fought against the Americans.

Japanese-Americans are Americans and should not be "foreigners" and are not the equivalent of expats in Japan.

I'm not saying that racism in any form is excusable, but what happened to the Japanese-Americans during WWII is something that us semi-immigrant and post-war immigrant Japanese will never really understand and I can see how Japanese-Americans wouldn't want to be clumped together with those of us who fought against the US during WWII or plopped into the US during the Japanese bubble and haven't shared their struggle.

Since when is it the responsibility of society to change everything that offends every person, or groups of people? Jap road was named 100 years ago! Are any of you familiar with the evolution of words? I think that some minorites are. Have you ever heard of Ebonics? The fact is that the meaning of some words evolve. I agree that the cannotation of the word could be offensive. I live in jefferson county and work near Jap road. My father was a WWII veteran, and he used the word in a derrogatory manner. He lived the hell at Pearl Harbor that was brought here by the Japanese people. If you are a Japanese American, he was not referring to you. Oh, another question. Is there just a regular old American?? We have african americans, Japanese Americans, Mexican Americans.. I suppose I am a European American. Do I need to define farther? Should I say, Frankfurt, Germany American? I agree, grow a thicker skin. We are not people who are insensitive to these things, but I am personally tired of having to constantly worry about what "offends" other people. I have a big nose, and was teased in school for it.. This caused the pain, both "emotionally" and "physically", to which you refer. If I see a road called snout drive, or beaker lane, should I act out on behalf of all of the people with a big nose to have it changed?

The bottom line is that this is a problem and debate of Americans. I think that anyone who turns in their green card, should but out of our business and work on the problems with their own country.

Chris Willis:
One of the many problems with what you just commented is the fact that "jap" has been a negative slang for "japanese person" for well over 150 years... (go look up how many various asians died building the railways in the western United States in the 1850's).

As for poking one's nose into other peoples business... weeeell... obviously ignorance is no reason to not do so, right!?
(Go look up "ad hominem" son.)

Chris-

I agree that in many of its forms, political correctness is often an enemy of the intellect. In this case, and many others where racial slurs are involved, I think that the intellect and political correctness find themselves in strong agreement.

You and I are fellow Americans. Japanese-Americans are also our fellow Americans. They have been and currently are, amongst our finest patriots. They have literally spilled their blood, sweat, and tears onto the very ground that you and I walk on. And by doing so, they ended up making the country a better place.

Common sense will tell you that sometimes, you should go out of your way to show respect to your brothers.

Mike,
I agree. I should have mentioned that I was just married... TO A THAI AMERICAN! I only offer this as support that I am far from racist. The people who live on this street also are good people. This street was named In honor of the Japanese American who lived there. He was a most prominent member of our community and, in my opinion, was instrumental in teaching rice farming to the locals. This is the primary source of revenue for many people in the area. If the name has truly been a racial slur for 150 years, then many people are mistaken. The most mistaken person is the leader of the Japanese American organization based out of Houston. I apologize that I cannot remember his name as of now.. He basically said that he was against persuing the fight for the names change and that the Japanese Americans should choose their own fights. Bigger fights.
The name Jap offends my wife... and she is Thai. I don't want her to be offended... I, like most of the people on Jap road, never want to hurt the feelings of anyone. I personally do not care what the name of the road is. I care for every american, but we are ALL immigrants. The white european male finds himself aoplogizing and accomodating almost every group in america. I am not a history expert as Boris points out, but simply observe. A name is only offensive as you allow it to be. I take not that many of the prominant leaders of minority groups focus on the things which truly matter, things that are vitally important to the benefit of their group. Let me tell you all something!!! Are you all listening. As long as there are definate, different races, there will be racisits! That is just a fact. People from europe are racist to Americans, people from New York are derrogatory to people from the south, whites are derrogattory to blacks, men are prejudice towards women... There will always be a group who thinks their group is better. The sooner we all realize this and begin to fight the important fights, and laugh at the meaningless names and comments, the sooner we can build a stronger America. The ignorance of the few should not be the driving factor for the majority. Don't you see this? When is the last time you saw Colin Powell up in arms over a racial slur? He has bigger battles to fight. I am sure there are others who do the same. Laugh at the names. I laugh at the snout jokes. In my opinion, it shows weak character to lower yourself to that of a fool to fight the battle. You cannot win a battle with a fool. He/she will not change their view, regardless. If there are racists on Jap road, they are still racists. I DO NOT SUPPORT THE NAME. I do support fighting a bigger battle. Boris, thank you for your comment and your snide reference to me being a "son". Try to make your arguments concise and to the point. I think that it lends you credibility. The condescending tone in your post does nothing for the solution. It only speaks about your character as a person.

Mike,
I agree. I should have mentioned that I was just married... TO A THAI AMERICAN! I only offer this as support that I am far from racist. The people who live on this street also are good people. This street was named In honor of the Japanese American who lived there. He was a most prominent member of our community and, in my opinion, was instrumental in teaching rice farming to the locals. This is the primary source of revenue for many people in the area. If the name has truly been a racial slur for 150 years, then many people are mistaken. The most mistaken person is the leader of the Japanese American organization based out of Houston. I apologize that I cannot remember his name as of now.. He basically said that he was against persuing the fight for the names change and that the Japanese Americans should choose their own fights. Bigger fights.
The name Jap offends my wife... and she is Thai. I don't want her to be offended... I, like most of the people on Jap road, never want to hurt the feelings of anyone. I personally do not care what the name of the road is. I care for every american, but we are ALL immigrants. The white european male finds himself aoplogizing and accomodating almost every group in america. I am not a history expert as Boris points out, but simply observe. A name is only offensive as you allow it to be. I take not that many of the prominant leaders of minority groups focus on the things which truly matter, things that are vitally important to the benefit of their group. Let me tell you all something!!! Are you all listening. As long as there are definate, different races, there will be racisits! That is just a fact. People from europe are racist to Americans, people from New York are derrogatory to people from the south, whites are derrogattory to blacks, men are prejudice towards women... There will always be a group who thinks their group is better. The sooner we all realize this and begin to fight the important fights, and laugh at the meaningless names and comments, the sooner we can build a stronger America. The ignorance of the few should not be the driving factor for the majority. Don't you see this? When is the last time you saw Colin Powell up in arms over a racial slur? He has bigger battles to fight. I am sure there are others who do the same. Laugh at the names. I laugh at the snout jokes. In my opinion, it shows weak character to lower yourself to that of a fool to fight the battle. You cannot win a battle with a fool. He/she will not change their view, regardless. If there are racists on Jap road, they are still racists. I DO NOT SUPPORT THE NAME. I do support fighting a bigger battle. Boris, thank you for your comment and your snide reference to me being a "son". Try to make your arguments concise and to the point. I think that it lends you credibility. The condescending tone in your post does nothing for the solution. It only speaks about your character as a person.

Chris - Thanks for the local take on this story. If I were a Japanese-American, it's not likely that I would lie awake at night worrying about "Jap Road". As a white guy, I don't feel an overwhelming sense of guilt about the whole fiasco either. However, this is one of those rare instances where the solution to the problem seems abundantly clear. As I see it, nothing is lost by changing the name, but plenty is gained. It doesn't seem possible to convincingly illustrate ethical grounds for keeping it. And if there is a much larger battle to be waged, why not take the opportunity to shoot this fish in a barrel? I did not mean to infer that you are racist. Best wishes to you and your wife.

I find it interesting that the residents of Jap Road repeatedly (and heatedly) defended the term "Jap" as a means of honoring Yoshio Mayumi, the original settler from Japan. However, when the time came to vote for a new name, rather than continue to bestow honor on Mr. Mayumi, 60% of the vote went to "Boondocks" (after a catfish restaurant that closed in 1996) and second place went to "Our Road." Comments were made by some residents that they would never vote for a Japanese name. A spokesperson for the residents commented that it was a no-win situation for all, since those pursuing the name change were disappointed that a name honoring the Japanese history of the road was not chosen, while the residents never wanted the change at all. He further stated that a compromise might have been reached if those pursuing the change had gone about it in a "more mannerly" way. It seems to me that ten years of attempting to educate the residents about the connotations of the term "Jap" is pretty mannerly.

Mike,

You didnt infer that I was a rascist. No apology needed.

I have had about all I can take of the conversations.. I do believe that it is healthy to discuss this. I think it silly to worry about these things. I suppose now the organizations need to move off and spend hard earned donations fighting street names such as "coon" road in beaumont, "Jap" lane in Orange, and these are only local. Who knows how many street names could possibly offend someone. Well, as long as you arent a white european male, you can certinly make a case for offense and subsequent action by one of these "rights" organizations.

I personally will begin looking for cracker road, or snout drive!

But... just to say... I love the Japanese Americans and all that they do to enhance our culture and diversity!

The name Jap, is wrong, and I am sorry to all who are offended.. It is not the intention of Southeast Texas. We are kind people, but we are also proud. You dont just waltz into Texas and start telling people how they will change something that we drive by every day and never give it a second thought. We are stubborn and do not appreciate being alluded to as racists, when the people who named the street are most likely dead or near death. This is why there was such opposition. We felt invaded and forced, like we were attacked.

Thanks to all for the insight.

It's just a dumb old sign, but through our creation and interpretation of it, a lot of trouble has been caused.

As a Beaumont native, I can say that the name change will not make a lot of difference around here for at least a generation. First, since the Boondocks restaurant closed, there's no reason for anyone to talk about "Jap Road" anymore. Second, there are people here who will not use the new name for various reasons ranging from resistance to change, force of habit, spite or, unfortunately, outright racism. A major thoroughfare through Beaumont was named MLK Parkway years ago, and still, people refer to it by its various old names rather than adopting the new one. I find myself doing it sometimes just because that street was Railroad Avenue or Port Arthur Road for so many years. Maybe the young people here will embrace the new name and in time the old one will be forgotten. Is that a good thing? I don't know. The road, however the name came to be interpreted, was named to honor a resident of Japanese ancestry. There aren't many other things around here that do that.

The controversy over Jap Road is finally over. But, it came at a cost. The residents were depicted as “ignorant” and the whole of American-Japanese citizens were misrepresented by the JACL and a group who carry a burden of bitterness from an “injustice” imposed upon their relatives over 60 years ago.

The mistakes of the past no longer exist except for those who harbor it in their hearts. Last year, I took my mother back to Manzanar and Tule Lake where she and her family were interned during the war. As she walked the familiar paths where the structures once stood, she recalled the sense of community that grew among the interned families (many of them American-born) who made the best of the situation given them. There was a hospital for the sick, school for the children, movies for their entertainment and places of worship for both Christian and Buddhist. She used these experiences to teach her children to treasure their unique heritage and strengthen their sense of being American. As a result, all six of her children served (and still serve) in the U.S. Armed Forces.

This is my message for those who still feel repressed. Make your own path. Live your life by practicing these characteristics: Create your own world, Love all people – especially the ignorant, be Kind to all living creatures, Appreciate the beauty around you, Expand your boundaries by increasing your knowledge, recognize the Abundant blessings you already have, and be Receptive to new experiences. Do this and you can achieve whatever you put your heart to task.

As for the JACL, it would be a great act of hospitality to invite the people of Orange and Jefferson County as your guests at the next annual Japanese Heritage Festival in Houston before you begin your agenda on Jap Lane. Here is your opportunity to educate others about our heritage and create a more peaceful environment for both “communities” to collaborate a positive change. And, by all means, counsel those Japanese-Americans who have difficulty finding closure with their past so they can be a part of a more peaceful world.

Misako Haimoto
Fannett, Texas

I am the daughter-in-law of the woman that owned The Boondocks Restaurant. My husband and I were married in the restaurant. I began working there when I was sixteen years old (thirty years ago). I never heard, not once, anyone refer to anyone of Asian descent as a "Jap." If and when the Japanese farmers from years back were mentioned....it was done in the utmost of respect. It was never derogatory or demeaning. I resent the fact that people have depicted the people from this area as bigots and racists. My son was raised around The Boondocks Restaurant and he married an Asian woman and I have Asian grandchildren that I adore. I have read many articles that bring up the KKK and "ignorant Texans." They are spouting political correctness, yet are miles away from being politically correct. Forgive me from rambling, but I simply wanted to relay to you that those residents on Jap road are not racists....as many of you have inferred.

I am glad that this issue has been pretty much resolved with positive action and postive thought on both sides. Let me ask you this, though. Why was there so much resistance to the change? Why? What to do about the issue is a no brainer to those in the rest of the country. And before you cite Texas heritage as somehow having priority over the majority of American values, let me quote Bill Maher.

...And I feel for them, because there's a lot of smart people in the south. But in general, it is the dumbest part of the country. Excuse me. It is. And also, they're the super patriots. The one part of the country that ever actually seceded. The one part of the country that ever actually committed treason. And they seem to lead in how we are supposed to think. Because they're more religious, they're more patriotic and I think it's just a disservice

I'm not trying to lump Texas in with the rest of the South, but Texas did furnish 45 regiments of cavalry, 23 regiments of infantry, 12 battalions of cavalry, four battalions of infantry, one regiment of heavy artillery and 30 batteries of light artillery to the Confederate Army. Just a factoid.

You cannot quote Bill Maher, he is a fool. Lets talk about a quote from an individual who is a productive, thinking citizen of our country. Got any other quotes?

I just stumbled on this site and have found it very interesting. I moved to Beaumont 10 years ago from the West Coast due to a job transfer. I was (and continue to be) shocked at how often I hear the word "nigger", both from acquaintances and total strangers. When I interject that the term is offensive, the speaker is always surprised that I feel that way. It seems to be socially acceptable when conversing with other white people. In fact, when I first came here and was looking for a house, several people offered their advice based on which schools didn't have "so many n-----'s"! When my elderly father (originally from the South) visited me, he, too, expressed shock at how people just toss the term out; he said it made him remember all too clearly why he never had any desire to return to the South. I have heard the term "Jap" also, but most Asians here are Vietnamese-American, so people do not have any concept of Japanese-Americans. In fact, my Asian friends, whether of Filipino, Korean, Chinese, or Vietnamese descent, are all "Vietnamese" to most whites here. Any attempt to explain the difference is usually met with a blank stare. The people who use these terms seem to be nice people otherwise, it's just acceptable behavior and they apparently have no incentive to change.

I find the whole debacle hilarious.
I go to a boarding school (but don't board there myself).
We're an international school, with people from all over.
Racism is abundant.
The Germans call us "Engols", we call them "Nazis", the Japanese get called "Japs" and my good friend Ng is called a Chink... despite the fact he's British-Malaysian.
The best thing about it is that no-one honestly cares.
Yes, the terms get used as 'harsh racist insults'. During my childhood I was persecuted by many other kids and frequently beaten up. I was called the "computer nutter". The name "nutter" today still brings back bad memories. But I don't see anyone screaming and flailing to stop it being used.
Hell, "Jap" is just a shortening of "Japanese", just as "Brit" is a shortening of "British". My American friend is usually called a redneck, and it's frequently inferred that our resident Grecian lives in a Chip Shop.
Why does everyone get so damn het up about names? If the name wasn't doing any harm other than startling a few people who got 'offended', why bother changing it?
I am not a racist. Never have been, never will be. I'm friends with white people, black people, asian people, african people, Japanese, British, Americans, French, German and many many more. And not one of us can see the point in stopping so-called "racist words" from being used - they're just names. Names don't affect what something is.
I'm a Limey and proud of it.

Mike B. - Maher's an idiot. He knows just about jack shit. If you want to get taken seriously, quit quoting him and drop your silly stupid stereotypes of Southerners.

Moving on, as a Texan, I got really divided over this. On the one hand, I am pretty normal for one of us in that I absolutely hate being pushed around, especially by "organizations" and doubly by politically correct types...but, on the other hand, several 442nd WWII vets also requested a name change, and anyone who knows the divisional history of the Texas National Guard knows that we owe those nisei soldiers as much as any people can owe another.

If the JACL wants to get anything done in Orange County, they need to NOT file a lawsuit on behalf of an organization. They need to send a 442nd veteran to have an interview with the local paper and ask the locals to consider a name change in a genial manner, even just to lengthen the name to "Japanese" Lane instead. Simple, not too far of a move. My people are much more likely to respond well to that.

At any rate, the word "redneck" is also a very hateful slur. We Southerners, Midwesterners, and ruros are the only group of people in America that it's accepted and O.K. to demonize and treat like crap. So don't tell me that I've never been insulted.

I remember when this story first came out and not being able to organize my thoughts coherently at the time. I admit, my experience differs greatly from the usual Japanese-American experience of the majority of Japanese-American citizens in the country today. First, I'm a fourth-gen American (fairly far removed from the time of the war and the first Texan rice farmer), and second, I grew up in Hawaii where Asian-Americans are basically the majority. So a word like jap has a slightly different meaning to me. I am personally proud to consider myself a jap, and I know many other young Japanese-Americans that feel the same way.
Many from my generation have taken up the slur, identify with it freely, and thus rendered it useless; I am not offended when I hear the word because as my friends and I use it, it's devoid of any cultural or historical context, it's just race. No doubt, when our generation, and those after us, grow up, the word will be similarly absent of most real conotations of hate. And for those who will continue to use the word hatefully, I hope we come to understand that it doesn't matter what label they use for us, the meaning behind the label is what makes them intolerable bigots. I am fearful that the history behind admittedly ignorantly named landmarks will be lost because a few generations of our people could not envision a time when we could see them for the delightfully provincial phenomena that they are.
Let's not forget that a couple hundred years ago, 'yankee' was a derogatory slur for all Americans. Whereas today, we know it's just a slur for silly New York baseball fans ;)

I read that Ms. Sandra Tanamachi was given special thanks from Japan for all her hard work for having the name changed on Jap road. I`m surprised that she doesn`t go one step farther and make all the U.S. citizens who have the last name of Jap change it so she is not offended by it. Get a life.

You know! It was my family that started the Boondocks. So DAMN sorry if you got your feelings hurt that we didn't pay more attention to your "feelings" when the name was changed, but what you need to know if that long after the "founding farmers" passed away my family was serving catfish to the community and feeding the "gators"
What no one has talked about was the family that started the Boondocks. My uncle Bill and my aunt may. Get over your hurt ego and be proud that someone else made a name for that town.
Thanks,
Summer Northen

Interesting, all these comments about sensitivity, and treating people fairly, which then proceed to lecture the people of Southeast Texas, calling them "ignorant." What two-faced thinking.
I came upon this thread because we used to go to The Boondocks a lot, and I was wondering if it was still there. I guess not. Oh well, if there's no "Jap Road" sign, I'd never find it anyway.

BTW, i'm glad they changed the name. Usually, such things aren't offensive to anyone but outsiders, but it does have negative connotations.

I was born in Beaumont, raised in Houston and have family in Louisiana. I am honored to read comments from the family that created the "Boondocks" restaurant. Some of my earliest and happiest memories of being a kid and hanging out with my family took place at Boondocks--hanging out on the back deck, anxiously watching the gators swimming around in the bayou while the raccoons dined out in the woods.

Thanks for all the yummy catfish and wonderful memories of all-too-rare times when my dad, my uncle, my brother and I were all together. Perfect, irreplaceable moments in time in a unique setting.

As for the "Jap" Road thing...I just don't know. That's how we knew where to find the restaurant all those times.

Sorry people called you a jap, dude. That's totally ignorant. Now get off your damn high-horse and let the people of Texas do their thing.

PS: love your diving pics. I've been PADI certified since I was 12.

this is an interesting topic about beaumont. texas is my home and a great place to live and raise a family. as for the jap road thing, thats totally ignorant.

Leave a comment

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Business and the Economy category.

Books is the previous category.

Computer and Network Risks is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index.

Monthly Archives