Perpetuating Subliminal Racism: An Open Letter to Google

Perpetuating Subliminal Racism: An Open Letter to Google


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Dear Google,

I fully and completely understand that you aren’t in control of what shows up on Google Images. I’m not 100% sure of how it works (honestly, I’m not even 40% sure of how it works, but I’m willing to learn once I cool down) but the picture your pictures paint based on searches perpetuates subliminal racism.

This a problem, and I heavily advocate for you to somehow attempt to remedy it.

 

Beautiful women.png

 

Exhibit A: The Perception of Beauty

The world is not Black and White, but anyone who has had any form of media thrust upon them (aka anyone who does not live under a rock) can say that media is Whitewashed. It presents race as if only one exists, and any and all other must match the prescribed standard.

If and when “Beautiful Women” is searched, you get a collage of women with bedroom eyes and long hair, staring into the camera like it were the last rib at a Barbeque. But the issue is, they’re all white, and the different races are presented in subcategories, as if they couldn’t possibly be put into the same category.

Imagine you’re a teenager again. You want to write a story and describe the love interest to most appeal to the audience. What you instantly relate to is what you’ve seen. Or imagine your objective was to ogle with your friends. The images you see are ingrained into your mind, so the next time you go to reference beauty, the pathways in your brain jump to that memory, and you don’t even realize you’re doing it.

Such instances continue through this time of discovery and experimentation, and these images continue to bombard you every single time you reference such material.

 

Beautiful Black Womeb.png

Remember, you’re still a teenager. You want to add another factor because, somehow, it’s become clear to you that it exists. You most likely scan the images and continue with your daily tasks, but here’s they key aspects I observe:

  • 64% of the black women are sexualized. Breasts overflow, butt is accented, or they are completely in the nude. Only in 20% of the original search does this occur. Such subliminally imply that, in order to be beautiful as a black women, you too must do this. Meanwhile, the white women just need to smile.

  • 64% of these women also possess well-known Western standards of beauty: long, straight hair and light skin. In the original search, 90% of the women exhibit this (Emma Watson being the only exception, with her signature short hair).  This indicates that, regardless of how you’re born, you’d do well to match this.

Beautiful Indian Women.png

The trend continues:

  • 100% of the women have light skin, which is contrary to a large of Indian women. This perpetuates, again, Western beauty.

  • 71% of the women have the desired long and straight hair. This again differs from the typical genetic straight. One can do whatever it is they wish to with their hair, but why is it pictured as the main way to be beautiful?

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  • 60% of the women (or more, depending on your perception) of the women have light skin, to the point that most would identify as white, had there been no search result (actually, I asked 4 people in the coffee shop I currently reside in, and they all identified the women in question as white, without any prompting).

  • 45% of the women differ from the typical genetic trait of straight hair in Asian women, in exchange for wavy hair. Again, this indicates that one must stray from their natural identity to be beautiful.

 

Exhibit B: It’s the Same with Babies

I am convinced I am not the only human being on earth who looks up cute babies when I’m in a bad mood. No one can convince me otherwise. But sadly, the subliminal racism continues. To me, this is quite sad.

 

Cute Babies.png

  • 100% of the babies are white. 100% of the babies have blue eyes. 100% of these babies, even before they can speak, represent “cute” for the whole world to see. A lot of them also have hats, which has nothing to do with anything, but is still rather interesting.

Cute babies oc.png

  • When you directly search for the cute babies of color, only 8% of the ones pictured are babies of color…And his skin is still rather light. 83% of the babies still have blue eyes. And only 50% of them have any color at all (yes, I’m talking about the paint and hats). Such doesn’t have much to do with perpetuating racism, but it’s pretty darn frustrating.

Cute Black babies

  • 80% of the babies have light skin. 20% are flaunting light eyes. This is not to say that black babies cannot have light skin or eyes, but when you display these factors as the cutest we have to offer, it’s a problem. Also, why are the subcategories “Swag”, “Twins with swag”, and “Blue eyes”?

    Cute Indian babies.png

  • 100% possess light skin. Again, this isn’t an unheard of trait in the slightest, but when you put it as the representation of cute for the entire Indian race…Cute Asian babies.png

  • Damnnn Google. 100% have light skin. And the “Swag” subcategory is back.

 

And this reflects in adoption rates

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Image: (http://www.adoptionhelp.org/open-adoption/statistics). Which is a fantastic read, if you’re interested.

 

Google, you aren’t responsible for what babies get adopted. But you contribute to the already mainstream subliminal racism by your images. Note how the trend just goes incredibly down when you get beyond caucasian.

Exhibit C: It Just goes on

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  • Perpetuates that black teenagers are criminals. Literally, these are mug shots. And the only images which aren’t mug shots (33%) feature black teens with light skin, again subliminally advocating for Western beauty

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  • Happy kids. Friendship Happiness. Long, straight hair, light skin. Features 5 people of color. Only one mugshot.

Screen shot 2016-04-03 at 5.54.52 PM.png

  • This doesn’t even feature Indian teenagers. Instead we’ve got HIV, police, and bad kids. ’nuff said.Screen shot 2016-04-03 at 5.56.51 PM.png

  • First search we’ve got where the first image is a person of color without prompting. He’s black and, for once, not light-skinned. Note that the only people featured who are not under 3 are black. Think about that.

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  • White.

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  • White. Other races are subcategories.

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  • White. Note subcategories

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  • Ooh! People of color! Finally! Oh, wait…

 

Ultimately:

Google, you have over 100 BILLION searches in just a mont (Citation). 59% of these people are teenagers (based on voice search statistics). These brains are malleable and developing; therefore more influenced to subliminal racism.

In 2013 you made 58.8 BILLION dollars in revenue (Citation). Again, I’m not an expert in how you use your money,and I know that you don’t control the internet…But you’re pretty damn close.

I think it’s reasonable to say that you could look into this, and I must say that, for one of the most efficient companies in the world, you’re more than capable of it.

With upmost respect, and therefore expectations,

Diary of a Teenage Activist

 

 

Dear Jason

Dear Jason


Trigger Warning: Suicide

 

Note: The name of the person in question has been changed. Jason is greek for “heal” as was my personal intention for this poem

Dear Jason


My eyes burn from the salt

Encompassing my lids until I’m dehydrated
Shooting a Migraine through me

Expanding my heart as it bleeds

For you
Your family

Because you’ll never feel anything

Do anything

Or see their faces again


I’m broken

I wish you had called
Someone
Anyone
Shared your pain

I wish I’d really known you
Other than those few encounters

 

Because I didn’t savor your melodic laughter

Or ask for your number
So I could call you every once in awhile

Could I have saved you, then?

I remember 15
Lying in sweet, soft grass
That first date
The sun on my neck at Art Fair
As Ann Arbor melted together

My first sense of community

And I remember Homecoming

Hundreds of sweaty bodies jumping

Like there was nothing else around

Fists pumping and hair flipping

Boys ogling the bouncing breasts

Sparking light in the darkness

But you’ll never know

How that feels

Those bodies

That heat

Bumping and grinding

And you’ll never know

How I feel

Broken

A million pieces

Scattered to nowhere

Because the most significant moment
In your 3 days of being 15
Is the pressure of rope around your neck
Indenting a sickening purple

Post-Mortem bruise

Broken

 

Did you think about it, Jason?

The scream of your mother
When she saw you

Hanging there
Begged you to be alive

Memories of her baby

Dying

As she fell to the ground

Unable to fathom his end

Did you think about it, Jason?

The shock of your sister

When she heard at 2am

That she was an only child

That pretty girl who once jumped up on stage
To dance with the singer

Her blonde hair swaying to the music

Now sits alone in her room

Blue eyes fixated on the sun you won’t see

Was there a moment, Jason?

Where you second guessed

Thought of another way to cope

Was it before you could change your mind?

After you stepped away from the chair

Forcing the oxygen from your body

Choking

Or did you just do it?

Done with the world

Blind to its beauty

Confident

I’m not indifferent

To the pain you were in

The nights you must’ve spent

Crying alone

And I’m not angry

That you made your own choice

I just wish it was different

I wish you were here

I saw the sunrise today
Beginning of a day without you

I ate an ice cream cone

Completely unaware

But when I heard

“A student hung himself”

When I asked

“Who?”

When your name fell from her lips

I wished for the first time that I was deaf

Because I can’t say we were friends

But I knew that name
And I can’t say that I knew much about you

But I’d seen that baby face

That smile

Wider than the Grand Canyon

That laugh
Heartier than beans and rice

So I broke

In my eyes
My arms
My suddenly weak knees,
So long of holding me up

Failed

And I scattered

My heartbeat slowing

Body heat rising

Brain cycling for a memory of you

Alive

To no avail

I do not know what happens after death
(Did you wonder about that?)

I do not know who you would’ve been

(Did you wonder, Jason?)

But the pieces of me
The parts you never knew you touched

Lost

Searching for your presence

And this earth

15 shades darker without you

Has got me thinking

 

That perhaps when you pass

It’s the living who are left to die

Musings from a High School Senior

Musings from a High School Senior


Photo:  http://writemyessayonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/HSdiploma.jpg

I went into the whole “High School” thing with the expectation that I’d soar with flying colors and get out virtually unscathed.

Maybe a broken heart here (check), near suspension there (check), or a wild party gone wrong…well…Everywhere (Oh God).

But I figured that I’d look back with the utmost fondness for every moment. Maybe even miss it. In fact, I would have my own High School Musical. Complete with gorgeous basketball player.

TL;DR it never happened

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But in my four year sentence– I mean experience…I learned  two key points

1: Nothing is ever that easy

If anyone says otherwise their either lying or stuck in some alternate universe, and if it’s the latter they suck for not inviting you. Actually, in general, you’ll find that the majority of people you thought were friends actually have truly awful colors. Not trying to scare you, but it’s the truth.

2: They will never serve chili fries in the school cafeteria for you to accidentally dump on your Sharpay Evans.

Because for starters, High School is far too big for anyone to actually give a shit, let alone circle around a raving bitch. Yes, there will always be bullies and assholes, but if you don’t give them the time they won’t waste their time for very long. Also, if they ever do serve chili fries in the cafeteria I suggest you run, because those suspicious lumps of “beans” could contain a finger.

So Here’s my maxim:

Despite how much you think you’ve got it together, you’re gonna fall down (and up) the stairs a few times.

You’re gonna mess up a test, date, outfit, or audition that you relentlessly prepared for.

You’re gonna have a mental breakdown (or twelve)

And you’re NOT gonna get what you want, deserve, or think you’re entitled to.

Sometimes you sleep in

Sometimes you forget your lunch

And sometimes your parents will ground your sorry gluteus maximus for eating cereal for dinner (Yes, it happens)

But life goes on.

Even though it doesn’t feel like it, the world keeps revolving and there’s still hope for humanity. You’ll still wake up in the morning, you’ll still be a teenager, and the things you regret yesterday are still a thing.

But you don’t have to worry about them.

Do not dwell on could’ve-beens, or if-onlys. Do not let yesterday’s mistakes dictate today’s chance for redemption.

High School is a prerequisite for life. And life is an unpaved road we all must learn to trek. Seasons and semesters and finals and deadlines don’t end when you get your diploma.

So you best start learning to get your ass back up when you fall.