Apple’s plan for greater emoji diversity backfires

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RocketNews 24:

With expressions ranging from happy to sad to ironic, emoticons serve as a kind of virtual extension of the self on online messaging platforms. As a result, many rejoiced when Apple decided to import Japan’s Emoji keyboard back in 2011, eliminating the need for app extensions. Yet something was still missing. “Where’s the diversity?”asked everyone from Tahj Mowry to Miley Cyrus, addressing the notable lack of non-white cartoon faces.

It looks like Apple has been listening closely to these concerns, with plans to implement a more racially and socially diverse set of emoji for iOS 8.3 later this year. Problem solved? Not quite. As Apple unveils its most recent developer betas, a furor has broken out in China regarding what some regard as a prejudiced depiction of Asians. While one can certainly make a case for this position, Apple claims the startlingly yellow emoji at the heart of the uproar doesn’t depict a normal human face at all.

The controversy began with the series of emoji shown above. At first glance, it seems Apple’s aim with these new emoji is to provide a greater range of skin tones, thereby promoting one aspect of diversity. This then leads to the inevitable question of whether the emoji are also intended as a visualization of race.

Many Chinese citizens seem to think the emoji do, in fact, depict a variety of races, rather than a mere progression of skin tones. Therefore, they argue, the yellow face furthest to the left cannot be construed as anything but Apple’s idea of an Asian face. At this point, the problem becomes obvious. Comments on Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging platform, included the following:

“That emoji is seriously yellow. How does a person get to be that kind of color?”

“That can’t be an Asian person… I’ve never seen anyone so yellow in my life.”

“Has anyone ever actually seen someone who shade of yellow? I’d be worried they were ill.”

However, the ultra-yellow emoji might not be showing a natural skin color at all, Asian or otherwise.

As it happens, the developer of the emoji is not Apple itself, but rather Unicode Consortium, which aims to promote a greater range of skin tones in 2015. In a document on the subject, they write:

“Five symbol modifier characters that provide for a range of skin tones for human emoji are planned for Unicode Version 8.0 (scheduled for mid-2015). These characters are based on the six tones of the Fitzpatrick scale, a recognized standard for dermatology… The exact shades may vary between implementations.”

This is followed by a graphic showing the emoji modifiers.

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You can see how the sample colors on the left side align with those of five emoji in the upcoming release. So what about the bright yellow face? The reason it is absent from this chart is because the yellow tone is, as Ritchie noted, the default color. Gradations in skin tone are achieved by adding a color modifier to the default, as seen below:

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In light of this information, Apple’s explanation suddenly becomes much more plausible. Even so, it might be too late to reverse the damage. Sales of last year’s iPhone were higher in China than they were in America, making the former a vital market for Apple–which must now surely be concerned about its image among Chinese consumers. Ultimately they will decide with their wallets whether or not to give Apple the benefit of the doubt.

Pakistani-American Marvel comic superheroine Ms. Marvel steps into the real world to combat Anti-Islam ads 

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 Audrey Magazine:

It looks like Marvel superheroes can exist in the real world after all. Citizens of San Francisco can now see Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani American Muslim teen named Kamala Khan, fighting against racism. How exactly is she doing this? By fighting back against Anti-Islam bus ads.

It all began when the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group that is sometimes classified as an extremist anti-Muslim hate group, purchased some offensive bus ads which correlated Muslims to Nazis.

View image on Twitter

You may be wondering why these ads weren’t taken down immediately. Apparently, despite countless complaints from the public, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni) could not take the ads down because of freedom of speech. In fact, Muni is even running it’s own campaign against the ads.

In the meantime, are citizens supposed to sit around patiently and just put up with the racist ads? Absolutely not. San Francisco street artists responded to these ads with none other other Ms. Marvel. The ads have been blocked with strong pictures of Ms. Marvel as well as statements such as “Calling All Bigotry Busters,” “Free Speech Isn’t a License to Spread Hate” and “Stamp Out Racism.”

This brilliant response even caught the attention of G. Willow Wilson, the creator of Ms. Marvel.

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So who says superheroes can’t exist in the real world? Ms. Marvel is certainly doing a good job with it.

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Sorry we called you “Chink.” Sincerely, City of Pasadena.


Angry Asian Man/AsAm Asia: 

The city of Pasadena, California is issuing a formal apology to one of its residents after he received documentation for a parking ticket that changed his last name to a racial slur: chink.

Pasadena resident Sean Ching, who grew up in the area, received paperwork regarding a parking ticket that he was trying to fight in December 2013. The letter upheld the citation, but what upset Mr. Ching even more was that his name on the documentation had been changed to SEAN CHINKS.”

 

Ching contacted the city about the slur, and after waiting weeks and dealing with multiple representatives from the Department of Transportation, he was given the excuse that it was “just a mistake” and was promised an apology — an apology that never arrived in any form.

So Sean took to social media, where it picked up steam thanks to sites like AsAm News. And wouldn’t you know it? Over a year after the offending incident, the Pasadena Department of Transportation now says that it has sent an official letter to Ching apologizing for the “misspelling.” (They blame it on bad handwriting.)

The letter reads, in part:

At this time I would like to offer a formal apology for our mistake. It was never our intention to disparage you or cause you any harm or distress. On behalf of the Parking Division staff and myself, please accept my sincerest apologies for this unfortunate incident.

Whatever the excuse, it really should not have taken thirteen months, multiple conversations going nowhere with city officials, and some good old fashioned social media shaming for someone at the city to simply acknowledge that they sent Mr. Ching a letter containing a racial slur. Ridiculous.

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Complex: As An Asian-American, Here’s Why Bruce Lee Still Matters

 

As An Asian-American, Here's Why Bruce Lee Still Matters

Complex:

This week Bruce Lee made his HD debut on EA Sports UFC as a pre-order bonus—or, if you beat the game on Professional Difficulty, as an unlockable. The results, thankfully, are impressive. The developers have Bruce’s face and body structure down, but more importantly, they’ve captured his little mannerisms—the nervous tic where he rubs his nose, the stance when he lets loose with a signature punch or kick, and the scowl on his face when he approaches the Octagon.

UFC fighters, in their promotions of the game, have fallen over themselves to praise Bruce Lee. They speak reverently of him—he’s a childhood hero, an inspiration for how to lead one’s life, a warrior that all other fighters should aspire to. Dana White refers to him as the founder of mixed martial arts, and although this claim smacks of hyperbole, it has some merit. Bruce was someone who valued practicality over form—he disliked the traditional arts’ reliance on stances, believing that these things were too stiff, and thus, predictable. Instead, Bruce believed in Jeet Kune Do—the “Way of the Intercepting Fist.” It was a philosophy that encouraged formlessness—what was flexible and applicable in a ‘real life’ situation.

Why does Bruce continue to inspire us, over 40 years after his death? Imitators and heirs to the throne have come and gone, but no one has captured the public’s love, loyalty, or imagination in quite the same way. Every new martial arts actor, from Jackie Chan to Jet Li to Tony Jaa, is referred to as ‘the next Bruce Lee.’ Even in our quest to escape him, we still return to him, as the unreachable standard by which all others must be measured.

There’s a few reasons why Bruce Lee has endured, and they combine to create the legend we know today. There is, of course, his legendary athleticism and fitness. We’ve all heard those hyperbolic ‘Chuck Norris jokes,’ but Bruce Lee, scarily enough, was the real deal. From his two-finger pushups to his 1-inch punches, his physical abilities belied his actual size. He was only 5’7″ and 135 lbs—even physically, he was a model of economy and efficiency.

And of course, there was the pure lethality of his persona. Compare Bruce to his fellow action compatriots—most Hollywood fights are intricate, choreographed ordeals, with hundreds of punches, kicks, and counterattacks. Fights can last for twenty minutes or more, and the outcome can shift several times over their course. Bruce, on the other hand, extended his philosophy of efficiency to the fight scenes themselves. There were no wasted movements—every action was consequential. Take, for example, the O’Hara fight in Enter The Dragon. Bruce Lee decimated his opponent with 12 painful-looking, brutal moves. This was not a man to be playfully sparred with—this was a man to be feared.

As an Asian-American kid growing up in the suburbs, I was drawn to Bruce Lee. To many of us Asian boys, Bruce was more than a good fighter. He was a symbol of masculinity—he was an ethnically Asian male role model in a Western society where so few existed, before or since.

The Asian-American male undergoes a systemic humiliation in America, and it’s not always explicit. After all, the positive stereotype of the Asian male is that of an intelligent, bookish math nerd. Being considered smart is better than being considered stupid. There are, however, negative implications to this.

 

Acceptance of positive stereotypes is an implicit acceptance of negative stereotypes—although we Asian men are considered book smart, we are also said to lack passion, emotion, and raw sexuality. Our penises are rumored to be small, our social interactions are perceived as awkward, and any sexual interactions we do have must be bizarre or creepy. In the same way that black men are hyper-masculinized (and thus, are perceived as violent and threatening), Asian men are hyper-feminized (and thus, are perceived as no threat at all).

Is there a basis of truth to these stereotypes? My parents raised me to believe in the value of hard work above all else, including my social life, and that the key to success in this country was to study hard and get the best grades possible. I later learned (thankfully, in time) that hard work alone would make one an assistant to the leader, but never the leader himself. Success in America meant networking, socializing, and knowing the right people, in addition to working hard. It also meant assertiveness—that at some point, you had to fight back, protest, and disagree with those around you to earn respect. Our parents did the best with what they knew, but the result—a generation of young, Asian-Americans which, by and large, is politically disengaged and much too passive—is unfortunate.

Bruce Lee rectified the ‘deficiencies’ that America saddles upon Asian men. Physically, Bruce was classically handsome, and he exuded virile sexuality. He was all greased muscle and sinew—a coiled panther, ready to pounce. Bruce had several romantic scenes in his films, and that, by itself, was incredible to see. Bruce was a ‘desirable’ Asian man, and in a society where Asian men are considered eunuchs, this is a welcome change of pace.

 

Bruce was also an ‘angry’ Asian man. Although he came from an ethnic heritage that valued unity and the importance of immersion, Bruce knew how to scream, and holler, and challenge those who did him wrong. He was ‘Asian-American,’ in the truest, hybrid sense of the phrase. The film The Chinese Connection stirs the blood of any Asian man who watches it. Here, we see a liberated Chinese man who doesn’t take insults from anyone—a man who is real, and emotional, and uncompromising in his righteous anger. It was this unhinged emotion, this ability to cry manly tears, that thrilled us so. Not everything had to be calculated, and measured, and inscrutable—not everything had to be intelligent.

 

 

Sometimes, you just want to get mad and scream. I think of Bruce in my worst moments—when I am discriminated against, when I am underestimated, when I am wronged. I think of Bruce when I speak up for myself against my better interests—when standing out is more important than blending in. I think of Bruce when my sense of justice trumps my passivity. Bruce is the ‘id’ that whispers in my ear—that bigots treat me with disrespect, because they think they can. They think I’ll be passive, but I have a voice. I can use it to affect change. I can scream.

In his eulogy to Malcolm X, Ossie Davis referred to Malcolm as “our own black shining prince.” For Asian men, Bruce fulfills the same role—our own Asian shining prince, who told us to be vocal, proud, and outspoken for who we were, and for everything we could be.

 

Check out this link:

Complex: As An Asian-American, Here’s Why Bruce Lee Still Matters

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California State Grange apologizes for mistreating Japanese Americans during WWII

 

Rafu Shimpo:

California State Grange President Bob McFarland apologized for his organization’s treatment of Japanese Americans before and during World War II in a March 25 letter to David Lin, national president of the Japanese American Citizens League.

President Bob McFarland

On behalf of the members of the California State Grange, please accept this letter of apology to the Japanese American community for a discriminatory period in our history, of which we are not proud,” McFarland wrote.

“The California State Grange started in 1873 and continues today as a fraternal organization supporting agriculture and communities. We have over 9,700 members serving 185 communities in the state.

“Examining our past, we recognize that the Grange was a leader in organizing opposition to Japanese immigration, beginning in 1907. Along with the American Legion, the California State Federation of Labor, and the Native Sons of the Golden West, the Grange was active in the Asiatic Exclusion League.

“The California Grange passed a resolution in 1907 which stated that aliens living in the United States should be barred from buying and owning land. The California Grange was instrumental in passage of the Alien Land Law of 1920, and the 1924 law ending Japanese immigration to the United States.

“In 1922, the California Grange passed a resolution supporting federal legislation that resulted in the 1924 law that expressed ‘… the intense feeling of our people of the West in this matter, so absolutely vital to Christian civilization and the white races of our country.’

“These early seeds of racism sprouted after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the Grange supported the incarceration of Japanese Americans. In 1943, the Grange called for the deportation of all people of Japanese ancestry, aliens and American citizens alike.

“In view of this history of discrimination, an apology is long overdue. The California State Grange, by unanimous vote of its member delegates, recently passed a resolution calling for an apology to the Japanese American community. As president of the California State Grange, I present this letter of apology to the Japanese American Citizens League, with the request that it be shared with Japanese Americans across the country.

Grange Executive Committee member Takashi Yogi

“No words can compensate for the past injustice and loss of property, freedom and dignity, but I hope that this is a small step toward preventing a recurrence of racism and toward promoting equality for all people.”

Sandy Lydon, historian emeritus at Cabrillo College, alerted the current Grange leadership to their organization’s past history of discrimination. A resolution of apology was written and approved unanimously at the October 2012 California State Grange convention.

Titled “Affirmation of Diversity,” the resolution was authored by Takashi Yogi of Garden Valley (El Dorado County), a member of Marshall Grange and the California State Grange Executive Committee, and co-host of “Home on the Grange” on KFOK Community Radio. It read as follows:

“Whereas, the California Grange encouraged the removal and confinement of Japanese Americans in 1942 and opposed their return to their homes after World War II; and

“Whereas, the Japanese Americans were deprived of constitutional rights and suffered loss of property, freedom, and dignity; and

“Whereas, the United States formally apologized for the injustice and offered restitution in a bill signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988. Be it therefore

“Resolved: That the California State Grange apologize to the Japanese American community for the Grange’s participation in the injustices suffered by Japanese Americans during World War II and convey the apology via the Japanese American Citizens League and the Grange News. Let it be further

“Resolved: That the California State Grange declare that it will not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, political affiliation, or sexual orientation.”

The Grange was denounced in a Pacific Citizen editorial on Oct. 28,1944, Yogi noted. It read, in part: “In its latest resolution on Japanese Americans, the California State Grange has descended to the nadir of hypocrisy. It is impossible to believe that any group of men in this nation is so devoid of understanding of the basic principles of our democratic life and culture that they would advocate in sincerity the revocation of the citizenship of a body of fellow Americans on the grounds of ancestry.

grange logo“The latest action of the California Grange can only mean that this organization is shamelessly stooping to the use of hate, fear and the cry of race supremacy for purposes of economic advantage … This insistence on restrictions against Americans of Japanese ancestry, at a time when any military justification for such has evaporated, is proof that economic greed and racial hate, rather than any concern for the military security, were the underlying motives for the continuing campaign of the Grange, the Native Sons and similar organizations for the duration exclusion of the evacuees from the evacuated area.

“The Grange has exerted great influence, both nationally and locally, in political and legislative matters on behalf of the agrarian population. It is a pity then, that its West Coast leadership is in the hands of narrow, bigoted men whose ideas on matters of race and ancestry are no different from those of a little man with a moustache in Berlin.”

(The JACL newspaper was headquartered in Salt Lake City during the war.)

Yogi told The Rafu Shimpo that although his family was not interned, the issue is very meaningful to him: “Our family was in Okinawa during World War II and survived the last battle of the war, in which over 147,000 Okinawan civilians were killed. We emigrated to Hawaii in 1948. So I was not directly involved with the internment.

“But being a survivor of the war, I am keenly interested in the effects of the war on civilians. War seems to stir up patriotism as well as racism. One need only look at the propaganda posters of World War II to see the blatant racism, with Japanese depicted as rats and snakes. I am interested in the process where normally decent people consent to inhumane acts.

“I have studied both the Jewish Holocaust and the Japanese American internment to understand this process. What I see is: (1) The labeling of people as objects separate from us. (2) The creation of fear of those objects. (3) The persecution or extermination of those subhuman objects.”

Yogi wrote on his website, “It is our responsibility to keep the machinery of democracy oiled and repaired, and to ensure that the machine is operated correctly, as it was intended. Our responsibility is more than merely voting and watching the news on TV. Since we are the government, we need to be informed and take an active part in maintaining democracy. The challenge is to learn from the past and create a democracy that truly provides ‘liberty and justice for all.’”

Check out this link:

California State Grange apologizes for mistreating Japanese Americans during WWII