Amazon Removes Racist Products From Website

photo from fortune.com

photo from fortune.com

Rich Wang, Staff Writer

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Amazon’s policy on offensive products prohibits “products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual, or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.” Despite this, it has received criticism in the past for offensive merchandise sold through its site. The company came under fire in 2015 for selling an Israeli soldier’s Halloween costume for kids, as well as an “Arab” nose, which is just an abnormally large down-turned attachable nose. Earlier this month, Amazon pulled a variety of laptops, baby bibs and other products off its website.

Amazon is receiving a lot of anger because the products express negative sentiments and racist stereotypes. The online retailer faced a backlash after a seller named Styleart listed various products displaying the slogan “Slavery Gets S*** Done” on Amazon’s Marketplace platform. They included laptop cases, mugs, bags, children’s T-shirts and bibs, according to reports. Styleart also sells mugs that display various messages (a few of which are offensive) and shirts that advocate illegally using cocaine. Reviews on the products show that customers are unsatisfied and desire refunds, only for Styleart to offer to give back less than a tenth of the money spent to buy the product.

The human rights organization Anti-Slavery International described the pro-slavery products as “absolutely shocking” and urged Amazon to “do better to control what [they] sell.” Some customers also called for a boycott of the website.

“One in four of the estimated 40 million people in slavery today are children,” said David Westlake, the CEO of British anti-slavery organization International Justice Mission UK. “Today, children the same age as those modeling these T-shirts will be forced to work long, back-breaking hours for no pay,” he told Global Citizen. “They will be living in desperate conditions where starvation, beatings and sleep deprivation are common.”

Less than a week later, another two costumes on Amazon sparked outrage from the Asian community.  Their images spurred many in the community to report the “Chinese Fancy Boy Dress” and demand its removal from the site. They were removed because the models, both being young white boys, pull back the corners of their eyes to make a “slant-eye” look, which is a racist gesture used to mock Asians. The sellers of the costumes were listed on Amazon as ATOSA and Fyasa. No information was available about either seller.

However, they feature other racist costumes on Amazon and eBay, including a different “Chinese Boy Fancy Dress” costume (that also had a stereotypical drooping Asian mustache and braided ponytail) and a “Geisha Girl” costume (with makeup). In the photos for both products, the models are holding their hands together in prayer, which is another stereotypical gesture often used to mock Asians.

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Amazon Removes Racist Products From Website