Radio talk show host Mike Francesca had no idea the term “oriental” was derogatory towards Asian Americans until he discussed the Supreme Court ruling in favor of rock band The Slants’ request to trademark their name.
“They all were Oriental Americans who were part of the group. … They were some kind of a musical band from Oregon, and they could not trademark the name Slant, even though they were a group of young Oriental Americans,” the 63-year-old commentator for New York’s WFAN said on Monday.
“Oriental” has long been associated with rugs, not people, AsAmNews noted.
Mike Francesa is shocked to learn that it’s not really cool to refer to people as “Orientals” in 2017.
Yeah, he’s got a problem with that. pic.twitter.com/qaa1pFmZz2
— Sports Funhouse (@SportsFunhouse) June 19, 2017
After a producer later informed Francesca the term might be offensive, he appeared bothered by the explanation.
“You’re telling me that is considered a slight if you call someone an Oriental-American?” Francesa asked. “What is the proper term then, so I want to get it proper since Oriental-American is now considered a slight? What would be not a slight?”
When he was told that the preferred term is Asian-American, the host accepted it, but he still didn’t believe he had done anything wrong, according to the New York Post.
“Asian-American. … So let’s make that an Asian-American band,” Francesca said. “You’re telling me that using the word Oriental-American is a slight? … If they would like me to say Asian-Americans, all power to it … then I’ll say Asian-Americans, whatever makes people happy. Has it gotten to that point where that would be considered a slight? Oh, boy. But if it has to be Asian-American, then it’s Asian-American.”
He tried defending himself, saying he didn’t know the term was a slur and the reports he was citing on his show used the term Oriental-American as well.
There is clearly a long way to go in educating people about Asian America.