Sunday, March 1, 2015

Minority Emojis

Like most other iPhone users, I use emojis every single day in my texts; however, it was not until today when I found out that Apple was including a new set of emojis depicting minorities that I realized how they merely represent whites.

Appalled at this realization, I scrolled through my emoji keyboard and found that there were only two emojis that represent minority groups and both of these emojis were highly stereotyped by wearing hats that mirror their race.

A picture of the current two emojis representing ethnic groups -- an Asian wearing a Gua Pi Mao hat which is typically identified with the Qing dynasty and a man wearing a turban.

There are 722 emojis on the standard emoji keyboard, yet the company who designs emojis, Unicode Consortium, only designated two of these 722 to represent non-whites. Often times, people try to find emojis that look "just like them" to put next to their contact name in someone else's phone... What emoji would a seventeen-year old girl like me put next to her contact name if she was African American if there are no African American emojis to resemble her?

Minority groups are constantly being misrepresented in our country and the emoji category is just one of the many areas they are lacking representation (another being the Oscars which I blogged about last week!).  For this reason, I was ecstatic to find out Apple's plan to release culturally diverse emojis with iOS 8.3. This update will have the current favorite people emojis each available in six different skin tones. On top of this, there will be same-sex relationship emojis depicting two moms or two dads holding hands and 32 new country flags.

These new emojis are getting lots of positive press; however, there is still one aspect of these emojis that is controversial. Many Asians, understandably, are feeling upset by the fact the emojis that are supposedly meant to represent their race are bright yellow. They are channeling their frustration by tweeting things like, "Asian skin tone in the new Apple emoji set is bright yellow. That seems more racist than racially diverse."

Taking the initiative to add these emojis with different skin tones is taking a major step forward, but now that these minority groups are being represented, Apple needs to focus on how they are choosing to represent them.

1 comment:

  1. I think that Apple is choosing to do this to appear more racially diverse like you said, but maybe also to reach more people. Other phones have emojis, but not to the extent that Apple does. Having these new emojis could make it seem like they are welcoming to everyone, allowing more people to use their products. However, I do agree with the statement about depicting the asian race falsely. In my opinion, that emoji is furthering the problem instead of fixing it.