“Don’t Be Evil”? How about “Don’t Be Racist”?

November 15, 2012  7 Comments

make me racist

I don’t do this very often at all, so please excuse me while I rant.  Google Play, their version of Apple’s App Store, has an application listed there called “Make Me Asian“.  It is one of those apps that modifies your pictures, you know, like the ones that make you look fat or make you look like a zombie.  Except this one tries to make you look Asian by…you guessed it, overlaying a rice paddy hat and fu manchu mustache on to your photographs.  And if that were not enough, you can make your eyes more slanty to really complete the effect.

For those of you who might not know, this is not okay.  These stereotypes are dated and exploitative, offensive and false.  They are characterizations that have been used to marginalize and insult people of East Asian descent for decades.  It’s not cool.

Strangely, Google’s company motto is “Don’t Be Evil”, which you would think would automatically include racism, but obviously does not.  So please, go to this online petition and let Google know that you think this app is unacceptable and should be removed immediately from its Google Play store!

peter

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Husband and Father of 4. Pastor of Peace Fellowship Church in Washington D.C. Aspiring Writer, Former Musician

7 responses to “Don’t Be Evil”? How about “Don’t Be Racist”?

  1. Peter — Just saw this via Eugene’s blog. Signed.

    Thanks for raising your voice. This kind of nonsense has to stop.

    • thanks daniel, i appreciate it. i think asians are so commonly made the target of such offensive tropes because they respond so lightly. but not me, and not this time.

  2. Peter- Thank you for standing up for this and I hope Google takes this app down. I understand that Covert racism is as hurtful and painful as Overt racism. Unless you have experienced this racism yourself you may not understand the volume of the hurt or pain that covert racism can cause. I am now the mother of a beautiful little girl of Asian descent and have experienced this Covert racism myself. It is hurtful and can effect the daily lives of those it is aimed toward. I hope Google can take this into account and understand that it isn’t funny but hurtful.

    • thank you for this angie – it is very hard to communicate how hurtful these kinds of stereotypes can be, especially because so many use them without intent of malice. but i’m hoping that this petition, and others like it, will begin to communicate the real pain that is caused by these characterizations, and we can finally put them to rest… well, here’s to hoping!

      • Peter-My husband and I have shared the petition with our families and with our local FCC (Families with Children from China) chapter. Hopefully this helps to gets the word out to others who may want to sign the petition.

  3. Actually the smarter solution would be a free market one: Make Me Black, Make Me Jewish, Make Me Arab, Make Me White, etc.

    Counter absurdity with hilarity.

    You won’t change hearts and minds, unless they learn to laugh at themselves, giving their hearts a moment to skip a beat with laughter, and their brains a momentary pause to recognize the ridiculousness of it all. Ban absurdity of life, you ban comedy.

    Where would the world be without generations of bullied children growing up to be comedians? Nuance being, it’s not an acceptance of sullied behavior, but in struggle builds character.

    Like a great immune system, learning to cultivate inner strengths makes one immune from outside idiocy. Can’t change stupid, but you can educate the ignorant.

    Peace.

    • hi john, thanks for your comment. just fyi, your other comment got deleted because it had a url in it, which i don’t allow. i actually don’t disagree that this is a possible route to greater understanding between people. humor is an amazing balm at times. but perhaps just a few things to consider: first, people should be able to decide for themselves when they are comfortable being ridiculed or not, and by whom. sure, a characterization of an american indian as a pipe smoking redskin might be all in fun, and can break boundaries. but if that characterization is created by a white person, a person who has stolen their lands and decimated their people, i think that it might be rather more difficult for them to take the joke well. you see, humor is best shared among people who understand one another and have forged some kind of relationship – good friends can rib each other endlessly and come out better in the end. but if you get two people who have enmity, or who have been assaulted or violated, expecting them to take a joke well at the hands of the other is simply not fair.

      the issue of timing is one to consider as well. there are many tropes that are so dead and decrepit that they are laughable, and rightly so. but some are not. some are active, and used right now. it’s much easier to take a joke if two or three generations ago or more, someone characterized a distant ancestor that you never knew as a stupid stereotype. but it is much harder to laugh if someone did that to your father, or to you. then it’s unfair to expect people to just laugh it off.

      now this isn’t to say that i’m right and you’re wrong, just a thought to consider.

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