June 23, 2010

Zazzle removes offensive t-shirts

When the news broke about Zazzle's "Indian name" t-shirts, Indian activists bombarded Zazzle with e-mails and phone calls. Corine Fairbanks sent a particularly nasty e-mail whose politest line was:Your line of T-shirts SUCK.Two days later, Corine was happy to receive this semi-form letter in response:Response (Tony) 06/23/2010 07:14 PM

Hello Zazzler,

Thank you for your email to Zazzle.

Zazzle has always respected all cultures and would never intentionally have any designs that would be offensive in any matter. For this reason, we would like to thank you for bringing these products to our attention and to inform you that we are currently in the process of contacting our sellers and removing these designs from Zazzle’s Marketplace.

Best Regards,
Content Management
Zazzle, Inc.
Comment:  Good news! Once again, protests have the desired effect. I'm amazed that some people think protesting is a waste of time when it produces results so often.

I had a debate with someone over the proper way to protest the t-shirts. She seemed to think activists should click on the "Report Violation" link for each of 5,000-odd products. My suggestion was to go directly to the top. Zazzle has a customer contact page. Its user agreement prohibits racist materials. And the law typically requires an intermediary such as Zazzle to remove offensive items.

Given these facts, why wouldn't you contact Zazzle first? Glad to see I was right on that point.

In any case, Indians successfully challenged another racist stereotype in the mainstream culture. As usual, I didn't lead the charge or tell them what to do. My role was limited to suggesting they contact Zazzle rather than the individual vendors.

For more on the subject of protesting, see Whites Fighting Racism Is Racist?! and Do Protests Work?


Anonymous said...

Umm, notice the language in the reply from Zazzle. I doubt all offensive products are disappearing. But quite likely they'll remove other products with the same motif (like when one store front sells everything from t-shirts to mugs with the same motif). So unless she specified a bunch of different motifs, I doubt that many (different motifs) will disappear, and because of how the website is set up - I still think I'm right and you're wrong.

Rob said...

Contacting Zazzle directly was clearly the best way to go. If Zazzle removes only some of the offensive items, people can resume reporting violations one by one. But there's no reason to begin with this inefficient approach.

Rob said...

I gather people also contacted Cafe Press, a website similar to Zazzle, and asked it to remove similar items. Good show, people. Contact all these do-it-yourself sites and ask them to remove anti-Indian items.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you keep bugging this company?


dmarks said...

I've seen the Runs with Beer one sold by Natives at a flea market.

Rob said...

The My Two Beads Worth site isn't selling the shirt, Anonymous. It's criticizing another company that's selling it.

Actually, I didn't contact Zazzle or Cafe Press myself. My role is to facilitate the process with information and analyses.

If I contacted every stereotyper personally, it would be more than a full-time job. Instead, I let Natives and their associates decide which problems to tackle.

I think Natives have a moral right to stereotype themselves with "warrior" mascots and "Indian name" shirts, DMarks. But I think they're foolish to exercise this right.

Salix said...

(Sorry to drag up an older post)

Hey, do you know if people contacted CafePress, and if so, if they complied? CP has been *extremely* rude to me in the past when I've reported offensive products that explicitly violate their TOS (usually Islam/Muslim-related, not Native, though), and also has never done a thing about any of them. So I'm curious.


Rob said...

I think I saw a form letter from Cafe Press similar to the form letter from Zazzle. It suggested Cafe Press would remove any offending products. But I don't know if that actually happened.