Tell Amazon and Ebay: Japanese American incarceration isn't home decor

RJ Pittman, SVP, Chief Product Officer of eBay and Jeffrey A. Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer of Amazon

2017-11-24-historynotforsale

After Japanese American and Asian American civil rights organizations lambasted Walmart for selling prints of Japanese American incarceration camps on their website as home and office decor, the company later removed those items.

If Walmart can do the right thing, so can other online retailers. Amazon, the world's largest online platform for merchants, is hosting similar photographs on their website with the same tone-deaf marketing line that these “timeless images” would make great gifts or decoration for your home and office. Sellers on eBay are not only hawking these photographs, but also selling personal items from the concentration camps.

We are reminding these online platforms and retailers that by allowing their merchants to sell images and items from prison camps, they are condoning profit from pain. Nearly 120,000 people of Japanese descent were incarcerated because of their ethnic background in ten concentration camps and other Federal facilities and prisons. There was no due process and the government purposefully suppressed evidence that they were no threat.

While we do value these pictures as historical evidence of the injustice of World War II mass incarceration, they should be used in the classroom and other educational settings. How we remember matters. Marketing prints of civil rights atrocities as home decor is desecration. There are many organizations that continue to do the work of ensuring these images are remembered, but with respect to those imprisoned.

Simply because many of these pictures are available in the public domain, does not mean that they should be used for personal gain. These third party sellers are capitalizing on our painful history and exploiting our anguish for profit. While Amazon and eBay may claim that these products are batch uploaded automatically and sold by third party sellers over whom they have no control, it is chilling that they are willing to overlook vendors eager to monetize without any thought to what they are selling.

As the largest online platforms for merchants on the Internet, they face a choice. They can either distinguish themselves as responsible corporations willing to put the quality control measures in place to prevent the desecration of civil rights atrocities. Or, Amazon and eBay can continue to burnish their reputations of valuing profit above all else.

Walmart was quick to respond and remove these items and continues to work with our community to prevent this from happening again. We call on Amazon and eBay to respond and also work with us to ensure that the memory of Japanese American concentration camps is preserved with the respect that it deserves. Our #HistoryNotForSale.

This is a joint petition between 18MillionRising.org and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL).

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To: RJ Pittman, SVP, Chief Product Officer of eBay and Jeffrey A. Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer of Amazon
From: [Your Name]

Simply because many of these pictures are available in the public domain, does not mean that they should be used for personal gain. These third party sellers are capitalizing on our painful history and exploiting our memories for profit. While Amazon and eBay may claim that these products are batch uploaded automatically and sold by third party sellers over whom they have no control, it is chilling that they are willing to overlook vendors eager to monetize without any thought to what they are selling.

As the largest online platforms for merchants on the Internet, they face a choice. They can either distinguish themselves as responsible corporations willing to put the quality control measures in place to prevent the desecration of civil rights atrocities. Or, Amazon and eBay can continue to burnish their reputations of valuing profit above all else.