Racially Diverse Emoji Hails Split Opinions

By Nikki Vergakes, VP of Chapter Development

Our white-washed society used to boil down to our emoji usage, but not since the release of the new iOS update in April. That may be “old news”, however it’s still a great conversation to have on this forum and some of us may have just been upgraded to the 21st century (iPhone 6s), while some of us may be me. Not only was I pleased at the sassy upside-down smiley emoji and the much appreciated taco emoji, but I was also pleased at the array of choices of skin tone when it came to emojis. However, this has sparked some controversy on the internet, like everything else does.

If you aren’t team iPhone, or haven’t seen this update, this is the jist of it:



The new emojis include all skin-tone emojis: faces, people, and hands. They give the user an option to scroll through a gradation of skin tones and lets the user pick an “appropriate one.” This can be seen as both good and bad. It can be freeing, yet pigeon-holing simultaneously. This new option now gives users that are not the same skin tone of the emojis beforehand, as well as those talking to them, many more choices. Are they pressured to use the same emoji as their skin tone? Do the people texting and tweeting them have to use the appropriate emoji? What would happen if they don’t? Some people see this as an opportunity for perpetuating putting people in a “box.” Those who are not the color of the original emoji are questioning why they need to have another avenue in which they need to identify themselves from society. Some see it as another way to differentiate themselves, and not in a good way.

People on the internet have made it another way to make racially sensitive jokes:



However, some still see this as a way of racial inclusivity. Some people hailed this milestone and claimed “We made it!” I can see both sides of the argument.



I like to applaud any step towards equal representation in any type of media, whether it’s social or traditional, before I criticize what the deeper meaning is. Emojis are creeping their way into all social media, not just texts. Brands are using emojis in their tweets and Instagrams on a regular basis. Now, brands can be diverse. We live in a diverse world, so if a tan thumbs-up emoji helps someone feel more included, then so be it. What’s your opinion on this?


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