Here’s The Ridiculous, Racist Reason This Man’s Passport Photo Was Rejected

The passport office claims “uneven lighting,” but no one’s buying it.

Getting your passport is never a fun task. In addition to the costs, there’s the bureaucratic red tape along with the additional chore of getting your passport photo taken. It’s almost as if Fate knows that this is the picture you’ll be stuck with for a decade, so they ensure that it’s so bad it makes your driver’s license look like a Herb Ritts glamor shot.

For New Zealand citizen Richard Lee, he managed to walk away from his photo shoot with a pretty great-looking headshot. But when he uploaded it to his country’s website to renew his passport, he was told that he couldn’t use the picture.

Richard Lee

Because his eyes were closed.

Only they weren’t closed. He’s of Asian descent, so that’s what his eyes look like when they’re open. I’m not sure if it’s a mitigating factor, but the rejection was an automatic one based on software to analyze submitted photos. The bizarre event raises some interesting questions like, “Is the machine racist?” Or “Can a machine be racist?” Or even “Is the person who programmed the software insensitive or did they just lack the foresight into the types of faces their product would be analyzing?”

People certainly had their opinions over whether this whole affair was a tempest in a teapot or an actual issue that needed to be addressed.

The discussion will continue now that the screenshot of the rejection (and the great-looking photo) have gone viral, but Mr. Lee isn’t sweating it too much. He told Mashable, “I found it hilarious actually, not racist. It’s pretty impressive that in the past 80 years we went from Turing Machines to a computer software that could read a face and determine that the eyes were smaller than usual.”

The passport office has responded with, “There were shadows in the eyes or uneven lighting,” but if that’s the case with a picture of this caliber, we’re thinking the office’s standards might be unrealistically high for getting a photo taken at the local post office.

Lee put the matter behind him, saying, “So I took a couple more at the post office and fortunately one of them went through.”

We don’t have a line on what Lee’s new passport picture is, so we’ll just imagine it’s even more majestic than the one that got senselessly denied.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

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She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

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Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

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Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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