Reports of Stereotype’s Death Are Premature

Letter to the Editor

Published March 09, 2011, issue of March 18, 2011.
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Contrary to what Lenore Skenazy wrote in her March 4 column “Were JAP Jokes a Justification for Intermarriage?” the JAP stereotype is hardly a thing of the past.

In fact, JAP jokes are alive and well among today’s young people. Look no further than “University of Michigan Pursuit of Jappiness,” a parody video of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” that Jewish Michigan students posted on YouTube in February. The video has drawn nearly 300,000 hits less than a month after its launch.

When I was in college less than two years ago, people regularly referred to Jewish sorority girls as JAPs. Maybe Skenazy’s kids haven’t heard the stereotype because they’re too young. I learned about the stereotype in eighth grade at a Jewish day school, and have been hearing the term ever since.

I should note, though, that in my generation both men and women are liable to be called JAPs, with Jewish men sometimes referred to as “Jewish American Princes.” At least we’re somewhat egalitarian about it.

Ben Sales
New York, N.Y.

The writer is editor of the national Jewish student magazine New Voices.

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