Published May 25, 2011
Former “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Danielle Staub is set to star in the new VH1 show, “Famous Food,” alongside Heidi Montag and Jake Pavelka.
However, we couldn’t help but lose our reality television appetite after a phone interview with Staub, who was promoting the restaurant-related series.
“I am definitely a foodie; people underestimate how much I eat because I am small. I can eat like a man,” Staub told FOX411’s Pop Tarts. “Even when I was 8 years old, even though I was adopted, I knew my heritage was Italian, and I hated the American food my parents made. So I learned to hang with my Guinea friends and whenever I would taste a dish I would go to the store and reproduce the dish.”
Hold up – did she just use the G-word?
According to the Urban Dictionary, “Guinea” is a racial slur used against Italian-Americans. And unlike the "N-word," which some African-Americans sometimes use to address each other, or even "Guido," another Italian-American slur which is bandied about on shows like "Jersey Shore," no Italian-American would ever address another Italian-American using this term.
Indeed, several Italian-Americans we talked to were deeply offended by Staub’s vocabulary.
“It's an offensive term that should never be used and is unacceptable. People should have better judgment,” said John Marino, National Executive Director at the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF). “It is both regrettable and alarming that she would use such a pejorative term, which reinforces a negative image and harmful stereotype of an entire ethnic group. Our society has made great strides in diversity and towards tolerance and has rightly cast aside the 'G–word' along with similar slurs directed at other ethnic, racial and religious groups.”
Rosanna Imbriano, Director at The Center for Italian and Italian American Culture, was also hurt by Staub’s slur.
“I am offended by the word ‘Guinea’ as this word portrays Italians in a negative light,” she said. “It is a shame as this is disrespectful to the family that raised her.”
Several other Italian-Americans we spoke to concurred that the use of the word was offensive in any context. Others declined to comment on Staub's comment specifically, but still expressed their general disgust.
“We support the First Amendment, but have no comment on this type of TV show, the pathetic people in these shows or the pathetic people who watch them,” said Aileen Riotto Sirey, Chair and Founder of the National Organization of Italian American Women.
Judy Corvo of the Italian-American Coalition echoed her sentiment.
“The great thing about America is that although everyone has a right to freedom of speech, no one has a right to be taken seriously," she said.
Staub did not respond to our request for a follow-up comment.