Eugene Cho

The “Make Me Asian” app is proof why we sometimes need to get angry, turn tables, and confront people.

*[UPDATE] Well, lookie here. We did it.

As of January 17, 2012, the ‘Make Me Asian’ app is no longer available on the Google Play Store.  And thankfully, so are the other offensive apps created by the same person. According to the NPR blog:

“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.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who read my initial blog post, engaged it (whether you agreed with it or not), and chose to act by signing the petition on change.org. Special props to Peter Chin for bringing it to my attention and initiating the petition.

Again and again, people often respond with “Aren’t there more important things to fight for?”

Absolutely, there is. There are. Always. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pursue these convictions too.

Sincere thanks…

——————————————————————————

Let me calm myself first. [Breathe in. Breathe out.]

There are a lot of other words I can say right now but let me refrain from the choice words and spell it out with other words.

What in the Hades is this? Have you heard about this “Make Me Asian” app on the Google Play Store?

  • Who in the hell made this?
  • Why did Google allow this to get through their application and filter process?

This is racist. Blatantly racist. Like crazy racist.

But then, why is this allowed to even happen? Again?

For a second, just imagine if this was a “Make Me Black” app? The world would go crazy as they should. That would be damn racist! But oh with Asians – hee hee. Those passive, quiet, and docile Asians…hee hee.

Or imagine if there was a “Make me Indian” app? Think I’m stretching too far here? Nope: the app is already there.

The Make me Asian app self-describes itself as:

Have you ever wondered to present himself as a person of another nationality? You can imagine, for example, Chinese or Japanese? No? Then immediately take your phone and download it amazing Android-application called «Make me Asian».

This is just a fun app lets you indulge you and your friends! You can for a few seconds to make himself a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or any other Asian

Someone please punch me in the face. Really? Are you serious?

I already told you to not dress up as blackface, brownface, redface, or yellowface.

So, why does this keep happening?

For one, we’re all broken, sinful, broken, and sinful. And no, I’m not repeating myself. Some things are worth repeating. Part of that brokenness rears its head through ugly expressions of racism – sometimes direct and sometimes subtle.

Another reason might be the possibility that Asians have lived into the stereotypes of passivity and quietness way too long. Stereotypes are wrong to begin with but they’re also very dangerous because this allows folks to get away with lots of crap. Or with lame excuses – the best being…”I was trying to honor your culture.”

Or we pass the blame to those we’ve offended.

There are times we need to get angry.

On numerous occasions, I get flack from people because they disturbed that as a Christian and as a pastor, I exhibit anger – or as I like to put it, “Angry Christian Asian Man” syndrome.

Wait? I can’t get angry – especially is there’s cause to be angry? Or is perhaps that folks have stereotypes that Asians are quiet and passive and me functioning outside of that box makes them uncomfortable? Isn’t that why folks are afraid of the “angry black man?”  Asians – through traditional culture – have been encouraged to endure suffering or humiliation; We’re inculturated to keep things inside; not rock the boat; don’t bring attention…but I’m tired of this stuff – especially if it lets others get away with junk.

I’m tired but I’m also angry.

I’m angry for myself. I’m angry for my parents. I’m angry for my wife. I’m angry for my children. I’m angry for my multi-ethnic church. I’m angry for people – all that are demeaned and degraded.

As an Asian-American, let me say that I have heard ‘ching-chong’ many many times in my life.  I have had random people slit their eyes as they pass me by. I thought it would end with me but the fact that my kids experience this bullsh*t is infuriating.

I’m not suggesting we be angry for the sake of being angry but there are times you need to get angry. Turn tables. Confront people.

And to be honest, there are times we need people to get angry with us. Turn tables with us. Confront others with us. Please remember this when you hear or see something that demeans and degrades another person, culture, orientation, or gender.

Practical Action: Sign this petition.

An acquaintance of mine, Peter Chin, has started a petition on change.org to remove this from the Google Play store. He writes:

Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil”, which makes it difficult to fathom why they support the “Make Me Asian” app on their Google Play Store, an app which overlays dated and racist stereotypes on your photos. Now you too can be Asian by putting a rice paddy hat and fu manchu mustache on your profile picture, complete with slanty eyes!…because that’s all it takes to represent the four billion Asians in the world, a stupid hat and facial hair. Tell Google you want this app, as well as any like it, removed immediately from Google Play.

You can go here and we need to get the Make me Indian app removed as well.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

To the app developers who created this stupid app and to others who think it’s no big deal:

Fool, these Asian eyes are real. They are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator. You can’t fabricate or app these eyes. Stop the racist bull. Learn to respect others.

copy-of-outreachphoto.jpg

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55 Responses

  1. Penny Hunter says:

    Angry Christian German Woman is signing the petition. Fed up.

  2. peterwchin says:

    thanks eugene – i’m talking with a google employee who’s trying to expedite the process of getting it removed. i’ll send an update, hopefully with some good news!

  3. Chris Smith says:

    Signed! Apparently the same people authored the Make-me-Asian and Make-me-Indian apps… ugh!

  4. KDavis says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Eugene. I agree with your points and signed the petition.

    Also, you are a man of God and I respect your passion and frustration over such issues. You are in a position where you can be of great goodly influence, so I and possibly others are taken aback by your extended use of profanity. It quenches and grieves the Spirit and can be a real stumbling block.

    Please continue to raise these issues, but please do so in a Christ-honoring way.

    • lovesmyjesus says:

      Sometimes profanity is necessary to make a strong point. It does not change the person, nor their faith, not their relationship with God if they use it.

      Also there are way bigger things to be upset about in this world than whether or not a Christians swears.

      • JR says:

        “Also there are way bigger things to be upset about in this world than whether or not a Christians swears.”

        There are also bigger things to be upset about than a few thousand people downloading a stupid app.

        If only you guys (and that’s not a racial ‘you guys,’ so spare me) showed the same contempt for the NDAA that allows Americans to be detained without a warrant indefinitely, the Predator Drone strikes that bomb innocent people in Afghanistan visiting funerals of others who were bombed under the guise of national security, and the reckless spending the fed does that will create even more onerous, bankrupting debt for our children (of all ethnic groups). These things negatively affect EVERYONE. Instead of these travesties, a silly app is what we’re fuming about here. How about we fix the big things and then work on the smaller things? People dying in Afghanistan (and other parts of the world) because of poor U.S. policy is a bit more important.

        Where is your petition for the defense and preservation of their culture? Oh, there’s no silly app making fun of them, just literal bombs being dropped on their women and children.

        So, you’re right. There are way bigger things to be upset about in this world. Guess when it only affects ME, MY wife, MY kids, MY family, MY culture that I care about doing something about it.

        I hope you understand how silly this tirade looks to those concerned about things a bit more disturbing and unnerving than a Make Me Asian app.

        I think Jesus would have an epic facepalm after reading this blog entry. Think about it. If you take off the blinders, step back, and let the anger subside, I think you Christians, Asians, Caucasians, Mulsims, or whomever, would see a bigger picture.

        Be angry at something that matters.

        • Eugene Cho says:

          Thanks for this.

          It’s the comment I needed to make a point for a lecture.

          Blessings to you as live out righteous anger over the things that matter.

          • JR says:

            I’m not sure if you are being sarcastic or not, but rest assured in knowing that I share your disdain for racism and the ridiculous app, and I will fight to the death for your right to be vocal about it.
            It just troubles me how we focus on the spec in one guy’s eye while the log of electing pro-war officials, promoting racist, anti-immigrant foreign policy, and living in a nation that is more angry about being insulted rather than being angry that our tax dollars go to blow people up rests in our own eye. It’s good to be angry at injustice, but I would hope that the level of the passion and anger you exude is also directed at transgressions on a grander scale. Anger is good, no doubt, but it’s a better friend when properly directed.

            Again, Eugene, I don’t know if you are being dismissive of my comment, but I really do wish you the best. My motive wasn’t to discredit your valid concerns. Instead, I simply wanted to provide a tiny bit of perspective from a different angle. I hope it struck at least one chord.

            • JR says:

              Ahh, just noticed that you didn’t respond to me. They way it looks on my phone makes it seem as though you did. My apologies.

              Now I’m angry!

              • Eugene Cho says:

                JR:

                Actually, I was responding to your comment.

                Not being dismissive at all. And not being sarcastic. I don’t think I was. I write short comments if I respond at all.

                While I agree in principle that there are bigger things to get angry about, it’s just that your comment is the classic comment: “Get angry about bigger things.” It’s hard to respond to that since there’s always “bigger” things so then, the importance of this – however low it stacks in the scope of GLOBAL IMPORTANCE – get shelved, nullified, and diminished. Even if that’s not your intent.

                I appreciate the well wishes. I have nothing but well wishes for you as well. How can I not? We’re doing our best to pursue the Kingdom of God.

    • Guy says:

      There is strong language in the bible as well, not to say what he is writing is canonical scripture, but if the bible has strong language, wouldn’t that be a lot of grieving for the Spirit? XD

    • Eugene Cho says:

      KDavis: Thanks for this comment and the gentle pushback.

  5. KC says:

    A probably racism 101 question, but I don’t know the answer, so I’m asking anyway: if, instead of this abysmal stereotyping (seriously, fake yellow spraypaint? that looks worse than a spray-on tan? I didn’t even know that was possible!), an app were made well with facial photo merging technology (like they use for those psychology experiments on “which of these faces is most attractive” and have differently merged photos, or for “what your child might look like” sorts of things) so you could sort of see what you might have looked like with some Asian (or whatever) ancestry to potentially evoke a greater realization of universal humanity, since people in the psychology experiments are usually are more friendly to photos which resemble themselves and their loved ones… I guess, does how it is done matter? Does intent/purpose/result matter? Or would you consider anything that would make someone look more like someone from another ethnic group racist no matter what?

    I inquire as a person of somewhat unusual mixed ancestry who would be mildly curious to know how different I might look if one my culturally interesting great-grandparents had come from a different gene pool (I would also be curious what would happen if my grandma’s genetically dominant and extraordinarily visually prominent lumpy nose, which I have partially inherited were… less so. Would I think I look more attractive or just stranger? But that’s a different exercise.).

    This is probably a variant on the halloween costume question of whether you’re dressing up “nicely” with another culture because of interest in that culture, or for mockery/stereotype reasons. Approximately where is that (probably big fat grey) line where curiosity, interest, cultural participation, and personal exploration is racist or is not racist? Mockery is mockery but what about things on the farther end of the spectrum?

    • me says:

      @kc, kudos for asking. there’s a difference in self-enlightenment when learning about cultures & what this app is all about. there is no “big fat grey” line here. you said it clearly, “mockery is mockery”. there are different methods to learn and explore a culture- go read books, travel, etc. but lemme ask- do you think by making your eyes smaller, changing your skin color or appearance give you a greater awareness of your ancestry? no it does not. its a matter of dignity & respect for one’s culture, any culture, that we need to stand up for. as we live in a melting pot of cultures, we need to be more aware and less ignorant and respect each other. the entire basis of this app is bigotry and creating intolerance.

      • KC says:

        Thanks for responding! No question on this app – I was curious as to whether *any* [non-mockery based!] exploration of visual ethnicity could be considered appropriate (costume, photo merging) if done without mockery and with an intent to learn or to have empathy “click” in a new way with people who look different from you… or whether it’s all 100% off-limits racism-wise.

        The big-fat-grey-line exists in a number of other areas, such as sexism, where some things are considered definitely offensive by almost everyone (like rape jokes) whereas other things are considered definitely not sexist or offensive by almost everyone (stating that many women in the US own purses without attaching any positive or negative significance to that fact), but where there’s an area in between (like some hyperbole-based jokes about PMS, maybe?) where some women are offended but others think it’s totally fine – where people, without negative intent and with a reasonable awareness of the situation, would draw the line in somewhat different places (and where, therefore, people should probably dodge producing stuff in that grey area but should probably give some grace to people who do hit that grey area).

        With sexism and online games/forums, I know some guys have experimented with female-gender names and have been shocked and, frankly, usefully educated by the response they get, which is a different sort of experimenting with identity, cultural response, and empathy. It’s not the same as living with something all the time (one person asking you for directions, sure; 10 in a half hour while you’re trying to eat lunch, aargh!) – but sometimes getting a taste of being on the receiving end of some of this, or a realization of how even you subliminally feel about ethnicity cues [like the study that tested responses to names on otherwise identical resumes!] can give you a better sense of how things are. So, wondering what things can be tools for that (not this app!) whereas what things would be over-the-line racist even while trying to “help”.

  6. Ezer Kang says:

    SIGNED. That’s right, race card just pulled – done. Unapologetic and unashamed.

  7. Eugene, thank you so much for always being a voice about racism. It is something that is not talked about nearly enough, and when it is people usually want to change topic.
    Petition has been signed.

  8. Signed. I mean seriously, what kind of frilling arsehole comes up with this fracking shite?

    Nah, you know what? As a friend recently said to me, “sometimes the truth gets graphic.” These apps are fucking bullshit.

  9. anon says:

    so every photo booth in asia is racist? since they have options to make the eyes bigger and lashes longer like caucasian people?

    • G says:

      The difference is they do it to make themselves more ‘beautiful’ and not to mock them.

      • Eva says:

        I think you’re assuming it’s done to be mocking and not just done out of curiosity. There are many popular image altering apps out there. I come from a diverse, multi-racial family and it wouldn’t bother me if there were a “make me black” app or “make me Hispanic” app.

  10. Garrett S. says:

    I want to understand why this doesn’t move me like it ought to. Even if there were a black, hispanic, or Jewish version of this app, I don’t believe I’d care enough to notice. This doesn’t mean I believe people of those races (asian in this case) shouldn’t be offended.

    It simply doesn’t offend me.

    Maybe it’s because I’m white, or grew up in suburbia. Maybe years of listening to race jokes in high school and secular rap desensitized me.

    Help me understand the anger and frustration when, personally, I don’t think I know how to be offended on that level. Because I believe the biggest obstacle facing activism against rascism today is dealing with a generation that looks down upon being offended then those who actually offend.

    Please understand, I want to care. Yet, at the same time, going to live in Japan as a gaijin makes me want to keep that wall of separation up. Where’s the line?

    • richard says:

      Have you heard of the term “white privilege?” As a white person, you have no memory, idea or awareness of racism – simply because you are white. You are right when you said, “maybe because I’m white, or/and grew up in suburbia.” But, in that white majority sheltered suburbia you grew up, it was your position of privilege, not desensitization, that kept you sheltered from the pains of other race. You will never fully know the anger and frustration of those who are being racially discriminated everyday. Maybe your experience in Japan will help you to be more culturally sensitive, if you are willing to listen and learn from them.

  11. Linda P. says:

    Reported offensive apps to Google Play within the app. That’s the best way to bring to Google’s attention since they don’t prescreen apps like Apple does.

  12. Nathan H. says:

    I think the app is hilarious!!! I respectfully disagree. You don’t need to be angry for me.

  13. Brian Roberson says:

    This white guy originally from the south signed it.
    I grew up in white people land. I too heard racist jokes, many by my own family. I’ll never know fully, and I realize that. But it doesn’t change the call to do justice and love mercy, and love everyone.

    Give ‘me hell, Pastor Eugene!

  14. Alaina says:

    Oh Eugene, thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. This is so absurd. I completely agree….for some reason racism toward Asian people seems to be acceptable and it is really bothersome and anger inducing. In this situation, anger is such a good thing. Righteous anger. This makes me want to curse.

  15. jadanzzy says:

    FYI, here are all the apps by the developer, including Make Me Russian/Irish and a bunch of other things. At least she’s consistent?

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=KimberyDeiss

  16. Ms. Marie says:

    Reblogged this on Ms. Marie's Writing Block and commented:
    Um, seriously? Are people still this ignorant? No. They couldn’t be. They just couldn’t.

  17. [...] Eugene Cho on the “Make Me Asian” app. The app. creates asian caricatures from uploaded … [...]

  18. Lisa says:

    Thanks, Eugene. We linked to your blog over at InterVarsity.org. We’re angry too. And I signed the petition.

  19. Kathleen says:

    I agree this is racist, but I don’t think Google is the proper target of this petition. It’s bad for free speech in general for platforms like Google to act as arbiters of offensive speech and engage in censorship.
    Why not encourage your readers to email the developer directly and explain how hurtful these apps are? The address is right on the app’s page.

    • peterwchin says:

      The app makers are not allowed to add whatever content they like because applications that propagate hate or racism are in violation of the terms of Google Play, and have been removed in the past. The same goes for Youtube, where many videos are removed because of the same reason. So there is both a legal and operational precedent for calling on Google to remove this application directly.

  20. Vivian says:

    Sign and just tweeted at Google Play. Can’t believe this.

  21. daniel so says:

    Eugene — Signed. Thanks for raising your voice and fighting for the inherent dignity, worth, and beauty of all God’s people. Thanks, also, to Peter for starting the petition.

  22. Jeff_s says:

    Where’s the button that makes them good at math?

    Just Create a “Make me white” app. Have buttons that make the person heavier, with too much personal debt, and have them crater the world’s economy and then blame it on someone else. Add in options for “red neck”, “preppy’, etc.

    Have you seen the shows on cable TV lately? What can you do to a group of people that shows like “Jersey Shore”, “swamp people”, “Honey Boo Boo” haven’t already done?

  23. JS Park says:

    I totally signed. I appreciate the non-Asians who are signing this too.

  24. elizabeth says:

    I am not Asian and I have often wished I had some of the lovely Asian features I so admire. I am also saddened by the foul-mouthedness of one who leads others in righteousness. One can express anger without bringing shame to the Name.

  25. James Robert Perih says:

    What google filtering process?

  26. [...] blogpost by pastor Eugene Cho pointed to this blatant racist app. I don’t consider myself an “angry Asian man”, [...]

  27. What Are We Coming To? says:

    What ever happened to free speech? Oh, just when it’s convenient, right? With all that’s going on in the world you people are making a hissy fit about a cell phone app? So some Asian people used to dress a certain way & you can look like that for 5 minutes. Big freaking deal. I’m Italian & if I made such a big stink every time I was called a “Dago” like you people, I’d have no time for anything else in life. Grow up.

  28. Jack says:

    I personally dont see any problem with these kind of applications. No harm done. I also dont see anything wrong with doing “Make yourself black” application. I dont think there is nothing wrong with being Asian or black so what is all this fuss about. Just cant understand.

    People who think this offensive must really hate themselves being Asian. That is the only explanation I can think of.

  29. dennis says:

    OMG….lighten up already…
    I can laugh my pants off with these apps..they should make one that has every kind of “race”. People should not take themself that seriouse..Samething: Why o why is it oke to make fun of white people (like those jokes too’) or for coloured comedians to say the “N”-word and that is alllll fun (by people like you I assume) but as soon as the comedian is white….all hell will break loose.

    • elizabeth says:

      Great question…and I agree…we all need to lighten up and not have such thin skins! I spent over a year in Ireland many years back-it’s where my mom was born. The Irish told jokes…they always began with “There was this wee Irishman…” and they were none too complementary, but how hilarious they all thought those jokes were…I am sorry the app offended, for sure, but doubt that is the intention. What is this person doing about real injustice?

  30. Tessa says:

    Good job on getting this app removed. Have you signed the petition to get Samsung to stop using child labor? Jesus would want that.

  31. brob says:

    Why so sensitive? Many people , including myself, face various issues along the lines of and beyond “make me whatever” apps and yet; I harden my skin and survive with my disabilities and go on. Is it having to do with those born before the automatic giving out of praise and those not needing outside affirmation ? I could care less what anybody thinks and so , this type of thing or app does not bother me. Glad I can still download and have the freedom to do with MY phone what I want by hitting a server over in Russia. Babies and wah wah !!!

    YOu don’t like the app, fine. Don’t download , use it or don’t even watch it on MY phone when I do use it. BUT do NOT stop ME from having those things on my property that I and others enjoy. Dad is Irish, Mom is Italian and we do NOT cry and whine about stuff like this.

  32. Libio Latimer says:

    You cannot stop something simply because you do not like it. There must be something imminently dangerous or beyond all universal norms. Even if a feature is so outrageous that needs to be taken down, request modification so that feature is not there. I can see value in ethnic applications. Healthy curiosity in social mammals is imitating others, doing what they do, wearing similar clothing, looking like them, “wearing their shoe.” This integrates our society. Using stereotypes is an unavoidable human first attempt due to the limitation of our brains. We can only improve that after we take the first steps. Your request to STOP inhibits the healthy process for people to explore other cultures. You can opine and even demand that demeaning features be minimized or, if you have a universally accepted argument, removed. However, inciting people to just block things is akin to extremists silencing cartoons, even if your intentions are good and sincere.

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One Day’s Wages

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My prayer life always becomes a little more active when I go fishing. #NameItAndClaimIt #ComeOnSalmon Seattle. Home, sweet home. And home of the Super Bowl champions. Thank you, New York and NJ. You're beautiful. Appreciate your warmth & hospitality. Morning hike. My features over at @miir are hosting a book.giveaway + their world.class  tumblers. "Hot off the press! Eugene Cho, founder of @onedayswages, has a new book titled Overrated that will challenge you to actually change the world. We've got two signed copies to give away. Like this post AND tag a friend for your chance to win both copies and #MiiR tumblers." Good morning from Seattle!

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