Sunday, December 28, 2014

People are upset that the Emoji app features (basically) all white people

If you were born after 1988 and/or have an affinity for tiny pictures of cartoon kittens, you've probably been involved in conversation that includes an Emoji. In case you're fortunate enough to have avoided all Emoji-use through this moment of your life, Emojis are little cartoonish pictures you can use when texting. They're basically the ascendants of emoticons. :(

People are upset that the Emoji app features (basically) all white people

Image via Emoji

If you were born after 1988 and/or have an affinity for tiny pictures of cartoon kittens, then you've probably been involved in conversation that includes an Emoji. In case you're fortunate enough to have avoided all Emoji-use through this moment of your life, Emojis are little cartoonish pictures you can use when texting. They're basically the descendants of emoticons and, yes, they're equally as irritating. :(

If you download Emoji for your iPhone, you open your texting lexicon up to a world of hundreds and hundreds of images like the tiny horse, the tiny gas pump, the tiny slice of pizza, the tiny white person on a bike, the tiny white couple holding hands, the tiny white person smiling, the tiny white person running, the tiny white woman getting her hair did, the tiny pair of white ballerinas and the tiny white family.

Now, that might make it sound like there are a lot of Emojis of white people and that would be because there are a lot of Emojis of white people because the pool of tiny images isn't exactly racially diverse. In fact, more than 2,000 people have signed a Do Something petition urging that the pool of images feature, you know, people who aren't white.

But of the more than 800 Emojis, the only two resembling people of color are a guy who looks vaguely Asian and another in a turban. There’s a white boy, girl, man, woman, elderly man, elderly woman, blonde boy, blonde girl and, we’re pretty sure, Princess Peach. But when it comes to faces outside of yellow smileys, there’s a staggering lack of minority representation.

Apple has been one of the biggest pioneers of Emojis, from offering them as full-color images to introducing them to the American market in the first place. And, the company has already taken steps to make Emojis more inclusive: iOS6 debuted same-sex coupleEmojis. That’s why we’re asking Apple to take the lead again and diversify their Emoji typeface, recognizing people of color as people...and Emojis. Everyone deserves to feel visible and represented.

Apple doesn't own Emoji, but the petition specifically points to the development of Apple Color Emojis as a precedent, suggesting that Apple could still step in and diversify the Emoji pool.

Emoji is a set of codes that are then displayed as pictures - faces, animals, etc. While the codes were developed in Japan, there are several corresponding “fonts” - including Apple’s, which was groundbreaking. Not only did they add full color and customize certain images (one’s even an iPhone!), but their version is quickly becoming the Emoji standard.


Now we’re asking Apple to take another pioneering step and make darker-skinned faces a priority in their typeface (perhaps over certain symbols that aren't really used). [h/t Business Insider]

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