Instant racism for your Android device

A developer known as KimberyDeiss produces Android apps to change a user’s photo in specific ways, apps which are available free at Google Play. Titles include “Make Me Frankenstein”, “Make Me Old”, and “Make Me Punk”, among others. These aren’t the only changes that a user can make to his or her photo, however; there are also apps called “Make Me Indian” (by which they mean Native American, not from the subcontinent of India) and “Make Me Asian”. Each of these latter two transforms the user’s photograph into one of a man with racist, stereotypical elements: a “Fu Man Chu” mustache, slanted, narrowed eyes, yellow skin (about as jaundiced as I’ve seen on a kidney patient), and a conical woven straw hat in the case of “Make Me Asian”, and a hipster headband, widened nose, feather, and “war paint” under the eyes in the case of “Make Me Indian”.

To Amazon’s credit, neither of these racist titles is available in their Android app store, nor are any other apps by this developer. The apps are available on Google Play, the largest and the default source for Android apps, on a site called Lisisoft, and on another called Appbrain. Their availability on Google Play is the most troubling, since it is so ubiquitous and installed on all Android devices.

These apps make me furious; they’ve made a lot of people furious. The photo above was taken from Change.org, where an angry DC pastor named Peter Chin has started a petition to pressure Google to take them down. Over 8,000 people have already signed the petition; please share it with your networks to increase the number of signatures.

An article appearing yesterday on Seattle public radio station KUOW’s website discusses the growing outrage over these racist apps. WSJ columnist Jeff Yang, quoted in the article, is right: publishing this sort of thing helps mainstream stereotypes that harm the group being stereotyped. That they are available for free means that young people may be able to download them without letting their parents know that they have installed them. Several reviews of these apps on Google Play indicate that after the first minute of use, porn appears at the bottom of the screen, another obvious problem.

The user is able to not only transform his or her photo (or any other photo) but to share photos from the app on Facebook, via email, or via MMS message. The broken-English description for each encourages sharing transformed photos. Impressionable young people may get the idea that this sort of racism is harmless and fun, especially when the young person can share the racism with his or her friends.

Spreading racism is never good. Please sign Pastor Chin’s Change.org petition and help get these apps off Google Play, where impressionable young people looking for social networking fun can find them. You might also want to contact Google Play’s tech support by logging onto Google Play at play.google.com, scrolling to the bottom of the screen and clicking “Help”, and then, under “Contact Us”, select the “Android apps” link. Google Play’s call-me-back support feature usually brings a return phone call within two minutes and they’re open 24/7. Please be polite, but let them know what the issue is, what you intend to do about it if anything, and the action you’d like them to take.

Thanks.

“Fashionable” cultural appropriation and what to do about it

( – promoted by navajo)

On occasion, I peruse fashion sites, and I’ve noticed a fair amount of cultural appropriation recently. One such caught my eye today; it’s by D&G, a label of Dolce and Gabbana, and they claim it is a “tribal dress”.

The garment is made of goatskin and looks like utter crap. In my Nimisenh (elder sister) Aji’s words, “no self-respecting ikwe would be caught dead in something so grotesque”. It’s expensive crap, too; the original price was $1450, but it was on sale for a “mere” $150.

I personally have better things to spend my limited resources on than this, but it’s time all of us rose up to say “Enough, damn it!” to cultural appropriation.

Personally, I don’t much know how we can do this other than writing to the offenders en masse and letting them know that this is not cool, or fashionable, and is something that makes them look really bad rather than chic.

Their corporate address in the U.S. is:

Dolce&Gabbana USA Inc.

148 Lafayette Street

New York, Ny 10013

Tel.1-212-750-0055

Their main HQs seem to be in Milan, and those addresses are:

Dolce&Gabbana S.r.l.

Registered office:

Via S.Cecilia, 7

20122 Milan

Italy

Tel.+39-02 7742710

Group’s headquarters

Via Goldoni,10

20129 Milan

Italy

Tel.+39-02 774271

Head office for the D&G brand

Via Broggi, 23

20129 Milan

Italy

Tel. +39 02 2772771

I have been unable to find a good corporate email address but will update here if I can locate one.

So you can see what sort of cultural appropriation is going on, here are pictures. Thanks to navajo for making them small enough to include here!

frontview

backview

closeupview

I hope you’ll join me in keeping an eye out for cultural appropriations from all indigenous peoples if you pay attention to the dominant culture at all, and will also join me in protesting it whenever you do see it. If Dolce & Gabbana gets enough of a backlash from Native peoples and allies, we can hope (perhaps vainly) that they’ll think twice about stealing another’s culture to make up some white fantasy for wannabes. I’ll continue to keep my eye out and post when I see further outrageous examples.

I also want to give a shout-out to Native Appropriations, an excellent blog dealing with just this subject. They’re now linked as Blog Brothers on the right-hand side of the page, thanks again to navajo.

Wherever it happens, cultural appropriation is wrong. Cultural appropriation just to make a fashion statement is a way to make money and nothing else, money which is never shared with those whose cultures have been appropriated. After Tuesday’s election, I personally am in a scrappy mood and you may be, too, so let’s fight back!

Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day!

( – promoted by navajo)

zafa (graphic swiped from Violetta)

As blueness said in an outstanding diary today, the Admiral is dead. I will not wish his like back upon this Earth again. If you want to know why I use zafa every time I must use the Admiral’s name below, see this diary. It’s worth your read.

There are a lot of reasons why I, a descendant of European settlers, some of whom arrived shortly after the Mayflower, don’t celebrate the day of the Admiral. Today, as every year I do on or near this day, I celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

We should all honor and respect the indigenous peoples of this land every day, but there should be at least one day (probably more!) set aside to do them especial honor. I would like to see local indigenous people honored with their own local holidays every place in the U.S., but I am not holding my breath. For me, though, the day honored today is not the day of the Admiral. It is the day to remember the genocide he started and to whom it was done first, and to whom it continues to be done. Some terrific diaries have gone into this today as well; I commend you to my cousin Winter Rabbit’s excellent offering and to Ojibwa’s most recent debunking of historical myth.

To start with, the Admiral did not “discover America”. There were already people here and everywhere he went, living very well without European contribution. There had already been Europeans here, too, as well as quite possibly the Chinese. The Admiral did not discover this land. It was already here, peopled, and plenty civilized.

What I see as linked is the day of the Admiral and the mythos that has sprung up about him, and Manifest Destiny, the doctrine that was used to drive the European descendants to take over all the land between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans in what is now the U.S. and displace and/or kill damn near everybody who was already here. I am nowhere near the only person to make this link; many scholars and opinion leaders have done so. Here are a few examples:

Why AIM opposes Columbus Day and Columbus Day Parades (zafa)

Manifest Destiny Rides Again

Christopher Columbus and the Indians (zafa)

American West – Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny, aka the doctrine of American colonialism and imperialism, continues to drive the narrative of American exceptionalism to many. Our misguided ventures into Iraq were for purposes that, among other things, stem from that philosophy: the U.S. claimed it was going to “bring democracy” to Iraq because the U.S. consumer-culture way of life is considered “better” by those whose opinions are printed in the mainstream and touted on the airwaves. Never mind that the brown people or the red people or the yellow people have a way of life that works quite well for many of them. (In no case does it work well for all of them, any more than the U.S. way of life works for every person in the U.S., but who am I to make the judgement for another culture that my way of life is right and theirs is wrong?)

So today I disdain celebrating anything to do with the Admiral. I will instead honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day, just like the city of Berkeley, CA has done by City Council order since 1992. I grew up there, and rejoiced when the city decided to make it official to honor that day as Indigenous Peoples Day instead. I know the post office and my credit union are closed for a day honoring the Admiral, but hope that someday my local, state, and federal government will come around to celebrating the indigenous peoples of this land as well. (Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has already long since spoken up about this.)

They were here first. They are still here. They deserve our recognition a lot more than some long-dead Admiral with dubious accomplishments and whose mythos is based on a pack of lies. Please join me in honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day today and every year around this time, and let’s work to get some better recognition for the vast contributions of the indigenous American peoples, today and every day.

(crossposted at )