“Make Me Asian,” a smartphone app that drew the ire of Asian-American activists for what they say are stereotypical depictions, is no longer available on the Google Play Store.
The “Make Me Asian” app let users alter photos to turn faces into stereotypical Asian caricatures – think Fu Manchu-style mustaches and rice paddy hats. Its creator, “KimberyDeiss,” developed similar apps, like Make Me Indian, Make Me Russian, Make Me Frankenstein and Make Me Fat. Those apps are no longer available, either, and KimberyDeiss’s Google Play profile has been deleted.
Google has not responded to requests for comment, and it is unclear why the apps were removed. But Peter Chin, a pastor in Washington, D.C., who started a petition on Change.org calling for Google to stop selling the Make Me Asian and Make Me Indian apps, says he is pleased.
“I am deeply thankful to those who realized the danger of these stereotypes entering the mainstream and spoke out against this app,” Chin tells us. “But I am also appreciative of Google, who listened to our concerns and acted accordingly.”
Earlier this week, the online activist group 18 Million Rising started a Twitter campaign with a hashtag, #makemeracist, aimed at getting Google to remove the apps.
Members of the group and their Twitter followers tweeted the hashtag at Asian-American celebrities, such as actors Aziz Ansari Mindy Kaling, to ask for their help in shutting down the apps.
“— C. M. Samala (@samala) January 10, 2013”
In a recent conversation with NPR’s Allison Keyes, columnist Jeff Yang of The Wall Street Journal said he wasn’t surprised that the app didn’t raise the sort of objections that apps about other ethnic groups might have.
“There is less inherent social and political power associated with these groups,” he said, so the consequences often aren’t as serious “if you parody, satire or mock or offend these communities.”
Gene Demby is a new NPR blogger who will be part of an initiative focusing on race, ethnicity and culture. You can follow him on Twitter at @GeeDee215.