In December 2012, 18MillionRising.org (18MR) launched a campaign (http://bit.ly/makemeasian) demanding that Google Play, one of the largest marketplaces for Droid apps, remove the offensive apps “Make me Asian” and “Make me Indian”. Created by developer ‘KimberyDeiss”, “Make me Asian” perpetuates damaging racial stereotypes by overlaying user images with a rice paddy hat, Fu Manchu mustache, small eyes, and yellow skin. The ‘Make me Indian app” superimposes war paint, a feather headband, and heavy brows.
The petitions launched by 18MR and Peter Chin, a Washington D.C.-based pastor, have received significant media coverage, including Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and CNN. There are also a total of nearly 10,000 signatures protesting the apps thus far. Despite support for removal, Google has refused to take these apps down, as it feels they are not in violation of the company’s policies that protect against hate speech. “We don’t comment on individual apps,” Google said in a statement. “We remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies.”
California Tax Commissioner Bette Yee has even spoken out against these apps: “How can Google in good conscience allow the perpetuation of racial and ethnic stereotypes? I expect Google, a company that does business globally and employs a diverse workforce, to lead by example by being the model of responsibility, sensitivity, and acceptance.”
In response to Google’s unwillingness to acknowledge the racist nature of these apps, let alone remove them from Google Play, 18MR is raising the visibility of the campaign by using the “Asianmaker” on well-known Asian American celebrities and inviting them to join the effort by engaging their social media followers. 18MR has created the hashtag#makemeracist for this online effort.