December 26th, 2012
11:10 AM ET

Asian-Americans speak out against Google app they call offensive

By Sarah Edwards, CNN

(CNN) - The maker of a Google app thinks it's fun to make yourself look Asian by changing the shape of your eyes and wearing a Fu Manchu mustache and rice paddy hat.

Another app - "Make Me Indian" - makes you a Native American with brown skin, war paint and a feather headband.

“This is just a fun app (that) lets you indulge you and your friends," says the description of the "Make Me Asian" app created by user KimberyDeiss and available on Google Play.

"You can for a few seconds to make (yourself) a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or any other Asians," the description says.

Not amusing or cute, say Asian-American organizations that launched a petition to get Google to remove both apps.

The apps use dated and racist stereotypes of Asians and Native Americans, said the online campaign 18 Million Rising, named after the number of Asian-Americans in the United States.

“These racist and offensive portrayals of Asians and Native Americans perpetuate damaging racial stereotypes and should not be distributed on the Google play store," said the campaign, which has an online petition to remove the apps.

Google, however, said the apps 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."

KimberyDeiss makes other photo-altering apps including "Make Me Old" and "Make Me Fat." There's also "Make Me Russian" and "Make Me Irish," which play off stereotypes.

But the furor in the Asian-American community, sparked a few weeks ago, is growing. Blogs, including Angry Asian Man, have reinforced the call to remove the apps.

Washington pastor Peter Chin decided to mount an even larger protest on the website Change.org.

Chin said he understood Google's motto is "Don't be evil." That makes it hard to fathom why the company would support these apps, he said.

This is the first time Chin has protested in this way. He was prompted to act, he said, because Google refused to do so.

“Google normalizes everything from Google maps, Gmail," he said. "If you want to search for something on the Internet, you even say to 'Google it.'"

Chin feared Google's power would make people think the apps were OK.

"I wanted to make sure this app isn’t given a pass of approval," he said.

Chin said he wants Google users to know that the stereotypes in the apps have been used to marginalize and discriminate against people.

"It's not cool," he said.

CNN's Moni Basu contributed to this report.

Filed under: Asian in America • Discrimination • Ethnicity • How we look • Native Americans • Race
soundoff (1,157 Responses)
  1. AK

    I wouldn't be offended if there was a Make me Jewish App which shows someone with a big nose, curly sideburns and eating a knish, why the hell you getting offended with this stupid app?
    Waa, Waa, next thing you know an app showing places where there is a large asian population living will come out to tell people to drive cautiously due to bad driving will come out and will you be there to whine again?

    Speaking of which, two app ideas that are gold...

    February 15, 2013 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. queenbee9

    1890S-1938 GERMANY and Austria made cartoons of Jews. After that along with a lot of propaganda and scapegoating (like we do to blacks) they justified the final solution. Just think–it all started with humor..isn't that interesting?

    February 9, 2013 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
  3. queenbee9

    Then whites are always wondering why other races don't like them....give you one good guess...

    February 9, 2013 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jorge

    If the U.S. didn't have such a rich history of mainstream-condoned discrimination, racism, exclusion, hate crime and cultural ignorance, then stuff like this would probably be considered a gag by the objects of it, but as things stand there is a need to be a little PC, because in this country, when folks start making derogatory jokes about people like you, it's a good idea to carry a Saturday Night Special and a spare clip before you go out at night...

    January 31, 2013 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. cathy

    I had enough of these asians. They have been here since 1975 and still working the system, free of taxes, food stamps, and alot of other freebies. Take care of our own FIRST. This is America, this is our country...I dont appreciate them coming here and cooking and eating dogs and cats and laughing about it. I dont want to hear " it's their custom" That is not American custom, go back to your country if you want to continue practicing those type of customs. I am sick of their rudeness and nastiness.They dont tip in service industries, yet most of them work in tipping industries such as restaurants and nail shops. Yet they frequent American service industries and leave no tip. I wish they would all go back to wherever the hell they came from. And for all of our men serving in the armed forces...these women are nothing but gold diggers. They always try to latch onto a soldier for the benefits, get a clue and leave thes females alonr

    January 27, 2013 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. Thenextstep

    Who cares............... I'm sure the app goes the other way as well (Asian to American).

    January 3, 2013 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. bobby

    We recently went to Sedona, Arizona, a really nice small town. There were some people speaking a language I did not understand. I asked where they were from. They said they were a tour group from France! I did not recognize their French, nor did they look like they were from France. But, what does a Frenchman look like? Or an Italian? See the problem with labeling people from different countries?

    January 3, 2013 at 5:35 am | Report abuse |
  8. routt66

    Please, "18 million and rising" sounds like a threat more than a concerned group of citizens. Why does it matter if people play with race a little in this day and age. Having fun about our differences is the only way the stigma of beig different dies off. Why don't asians (theres over 2 billion) create an app for asians to white or asians to black. Have fun with it instead of dictating the definition of racism and discrimination over the supposedly free social media...

    January 3, 2013 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. James

    I am sick of reading all these over sensitive stories on the news, who cares! Get lives! Don't buy the app, and it will go out of buissness, and the owner/created wont be able to afford to keep it in the App Store. This isn't news!

    January 2, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Alex

    Do you have a good explanation why they have not made "Make me Caucasian" app ? No doubt they have the ability to make it and some people would buy. Maybe some white people actually would be offended ?

    January 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ShowTime

    I would get the app....but asians think they are white? True?

    January 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Asian in Tennessee

      I'm an Asian living in Tennessee...I am recommending this app to EVERYONE I know because I think it's funny. I am HONORED that Google has created an App to make someone look just like me...yes, I do have a rice paddy hat, but no mustache 🙂

      I would LOVE to see an App to make me look "White"...seriously folks....this is just for fun....if this App gets taken down, then I guess all the other other Apps that have anything regarding race will be removed also. Ridiculous!

      January 2, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
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