Friday, February 20, 2009

JACL Letter To American Girl Brands

JACL Letter To American Girl Brands

February 17, 2009
Ms. Ellen Brothers
American Girl Brands
8400 Fairway Place
Middleton, WI 53562-0998

Dear Ms. Brothers:
As the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights and education organization in the United States, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) commends American Girl for its commitment to diversity and for promoting values that strengthen the character of young girls in our nation. However, it has come to our attention from one of our members that the packaging for your World War II doll contains a diorama that includes the headline "Japs bomb Pearl Harbor."

We fully understand the need to promote your series of historical dolls by using photos and images that depict a particular era in our history, but we are concerned by your choice of a headline that uses a racial epithet. The world has changed greatly in the sixty years since World War II. The term "jap" is a racial slur and though its use may have been tolerated during World War II, its use is certainly not tolerated today. 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.

Moreover, we are especially concerned because your product is marketed to young, impressionable children who may come to believe that the use of the term is acceptable. We don't believe there was malicious intent in packaging the dolls with this headline. We would request that you act immediately to repackage the World War II dolls in an appropriate manner removing the headline.

I look forward to your response to our concern.

William Yoshino
Midwest Director
Japanese American Citizens League

Japanese American Citizens League
Midwest Regional Office
5415 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL

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