The Google Play store has quietly dropped “Make Me Asian” and other controversial Android apps that were criticized for promoting racial stereotypes.
The “Make Me Asian” app, developed by KimberyDeiss, altered a person’s photo by changing the shape of the eyes and adding a Fu Manchu moustache and a “rice paddy” hat.
Peter Chin, a pastor in Washington, D.C., launched an online petition through Change.org and collected 8,452 signatures. More recently, 18 Million Rising, an online Asian American activist group, started a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #makemeracist.
“I’m deeply thankful to the nearly 10,000 who signed this Change.org petition to take down these apps,” Chin posted. “I am also grateful for Google, who heard our outrage and pulled the apps.
“This may seem like a small victory, but it made an important statement: that minorities will not simply accept dated and offensive stereotypes that are wrongly foisted upon them. We stood up, our voices were heard, and something changed. I hope that our society will take notice and realize that previously voiceless communities will not remain silent any longer.”
Chin said he did not receive any formal announcement from Google, but noticed Thursday that the apps were longer accessible.
He thanked bloggers such as 18 Million Rising, Angry Asian Man and Eugene Cho as well as mainstream media outlets such as CNN, MSNBC and NPR for helping to “get the world’s largest and most influential technology corporation to do something that it didn’t want to do.”
Chin added, “ I can understand why they were resistant to doing so, and understand their concerns regarding free speech. So I know that this was an act of some courage on their part as well, and that does not go unnoticed by me.”
When he started the petition drive, Chin denounced both the “Make Me Asian” app and the “Make Me Indian” app, which altered portraits with war paint, a feather and a broadened nose:
“This is not what it means to be Asian or Native American — these are nothing less than hateful and offensive stereotypes that are used to this very day to marginalize and humiliate people. They are not funny, and their use highlights a vicious double standard in the treatment of certain minority groups.
“Blackface (dressing up as a caricature of a black person, complete with black makeup) is thankfully and rightfully recognized as thoroughly racist, so why in the world is ‘yellowface’ and ‘redface’ given a pass?
“Google has tried to defend itself in this matter by stating they are not responsible for the content of apps because Android is open source. But the fact is that Google Play is NOT open source, but a branded store from which Google derives profit and has removed other racist apps, such as a Nazi app in August of 2010. By choosing to allow these apps to proliferate on their branded Google Play store, they are implicitly normalizing these characterizations.”
To enlist the help of Asian American celebrities, 18 Million Rising posted photos of George Takei, Jeremy Lin, Margaret Cho, Mindy Kaling and others that had been run through the app.
On its Facebook page, the group said, “As of this morning, ‘Make Me Asian’ and ‘Make Me Indian’ get a 404 Error on Google Play! Thanks for all your support and help on this campaign: for sharing it with your friends, signing on, and getting riled up. Internet high-fives all around! We won today!”