Apple’s New Diverse Emoji Are Even More Problematic than Before

Paige Tutt, Washington Post, April 10, 2015

Apple on Thursday introduced its new racially diverse emoji, allowing users to cycle through various shades of white and brown to customize their emoji’s skin colors. Some rejoiced, with choruses of “We made it” flanked by newly black praise-hand emoji filling Instagram and Twitter. Some even professed to cry tears of joy over this sign of racial inclusion. But already, Apple’s well-intentioned gesture to human diversity has taken a turn for the worse. The emoji are being used to make racist comments on social media and insert questions of race in texts and tweets where it may never have arisen before. Instead of correcting its mistake–excluding people of color from emoji–Apple has, in some ways, made the situation worse.

In trying to advocate for racial inclusivity in its iOS 8.3 update, Apple has allowed for further racial segregation with these new emoji. Because I’m black, should I now feel compelled to use the “appropriate” brown-skinned nail-painting emoji? Why would I use the white one? Now in simple text messages and tweets, I have to identify myself racially. I’ll now question other people’s emoji use when they’re speaking to me: Why is he sending me the black angel emoji specifically? Why is she sending me the black-girl emoji instead of the white one? What Apple has done is introduce race into everyday conversations where it doesn’t necessarily need to be. Clorox already has felt the weight of that reality, when in response to the new emoji, the brand tweeted “where’s the bleach?” The barrage of criticism that followed the face-palm moment pressured the company to tweet an apology, noting that it never meant the comment as a reference to race.



Apple’s intent was good. But the execution was completely flawed. Apple took the easy way out. Instead of creating actual emojis of color, Apple simply allows its users to make white emoji a different color. With this update, the company skirts around having to attribute certain physical characteristics to certain races of people. For example, there’s nothing specifically “black” about an emoji with browner skin. Deepening the skin color of a previously white emoji doesn’t make the emoji not white. It’s just a bastardized emoji blackface. The blond-haired emoji man and the blue-eyed emoji princess are clearly white, but you can slip them into a darker-colored skin. These new figures aren’t emoji of color; they’re just white emoji wearing masks.

Understandably, Apple didn’t want to create caricatures, giving those emoji an afro or thicker lips. But the company had already done something similar. With the first batch of emoji, they clearly identified one character as Asian, giving it narrow eyes and a skull cap. Another was clearly identified as Middle Eastern, with browner skin and a turban. And many were identified as white, with blond hair and blue eyes. Apple should have simply removed the racialized emoji altogether. What they did instead was homogenize and whitewash them. And now, in an absurd twist, you can change the skin tone of emoji that were specified as Asian or Middle Eastern. It’s political correctness gone wild.



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  • WhiteVeinKratom

    You just cannot make them happy…..

  • There’s no making SJWs happy, and there’s no making blacks happy. Combine the two…

  • Irishgirl

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    • Kenner

      And that’s why ‘I Don’t’.

  • TomIron361

    You can’t make this stuff up. Lunacy run riot.

    • LHathaway

      The story suggests, you can.

    • bv

      They have an aching need to piss off the man (who takes this abuse) and make life unpleasant because the are jealous and are insecure about their race.

  • John Smith

    A great reason to use Android.

    • Tim_in_Indiana

      …Until Android does the same thing.

      • John Smith

        It’s open-source, despite the Google connection.

      • bv

        They will eventually, they are going to take over even more and more and impose their ideals on us.

  • DaveMed

    Haha! Gotta love when anti-Whites trip over themselves trying to pander to non-Whites.

    • propagandaoftruth

      “Apple’s intent was good.”

      Think I figgered out the problem.

  • Lexonaut

    “… Understandably, Apple didn’t want to create caricatures …”

    Of course not. All white race realists look just like the base emoji, don’t we? Right down to the yellow skin, yes? No caricatures here.

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    This was clearly nothing but a “feel good” publicity stunt on the part of Apple. The sad thing is, all the tech websites covering this story covered it as a neutral or even a good thing. Not a single one of the half-dozen i ran across questioned why it was necessary to change the emoji or even if it was a good thing.

    None of them questioned what it said about Apple, emoji or “racism,” whether the old emoji were in fact racist, whether other content producers are “racist” if they don’t include “diversity” or even if Apple was racist for waiting so long to make this change.

    I did detect a slight grumbling from some of the commenters on some of the stories, but none of them really got down to the core of the issue, that this change implies that whites are going to be considered racist no matter what they do.

    This issue of the new emojis backfiring on Apple is actually a delicious irony that highlights even more forcefully what a wrongheaded and stupid decision this was.

    • Just goes to show that some people know a lot about computers, but still have very little common sense.

    • Lexonaut

      “… whether other content producers are “racist” if they don’t include [emoji] “diversity” …”

      Please stop. This spring I have asthma and uncontrollable laughter is only making it worse.

  • TrueNorthFree

    I’ll have white featured female emoji with yellow skin wearing a turban. Is that politically incorrect enough?

  • IstvanIN

    So a dark emoticon isn’t good enough, yet not having emoticon’s of color would be racist, and, I bet, had they made Negroid appearing emoticons that would have been racist. Someone needs to say “if you don’t like mine make your own”.

    And when did yellow become the new White?

    • Basketeddie

      Since the creation of The Simpsons.

      • George Moriarty

        Have a look at todays “Google” opening screen, features a childish cartoon and video celebrating the Pony Express anniversary. The trouble is that the rider is about the same colour as the pony, brown. Were the riders really that colour?

        • Alden

          Is that what it was? Lucky me, I have some sort of selective blindness about ads, logos and all the garbage on the screen

    • bv

      It’s a yellow colored circle with a face. Last time I looked I’ve never seen a human that looks like that.

  • Another day, another round of terminally oppressed, self-anointed victims looking for attention.

    but, but, but, but…. black people are just White people with darker skin. Racial differences are only skin deep. Race is just a social construct…… blah, blah, blah.

    Will the black emoji come with its own set of color-coordinated prison bars and handcuffs? Will the black emoji family automatically come with its own bail bondsman and attorney so Dad will be able to finally join the family? Yeah, I know, first they will have to figure out who Dad is, but these are questions we need answers to if we are going to be accurate. Maybe a good private investigator?

  • This whole conversation about emojis is stupid. The former USA, now a boundary on a map and nothing more, is not a serious country. Really, is there much of anything more stupid than getting all wound up over a smiley face?

    • evilsandmich

      The SJW crowd can leave no nook in society unviolated; the only upside is that they’ve spread themselves so thin that defense is becoming more untenable every day.

  • Usually Much Calmer

    This is beyond retarded.

  • FozzieT

    As I posted before, here is the proper black emoji…

    • Apevon Tarskin

      Hey that’s me

  • TheMaskedUnit

    Make everybody choose black … It’s the only way to be free and fair.

  • MekongDelta69

    “Help! I see emojis… uhh… I mean, racists or something, under my bed. Help!”

  • evilsandmich

    Apparently yellow is the new white according to this article. Anyway I’m pleased that the black dude with a turban finally let’s me send the succinct anti-obama texts that I’ve been dreaming of.

    • llexik

      Ha, it’s kinda sad that a lot of people I know (including myself) will probably use the black face emojis as jokes, as I’m sure will a whole lot of immature teenagers.

  • The more we try to be sensitive to race, the more we just accentuate race. And people (some, not on this site, of course) wonder why I avoid black people as much as possible, even in ordinary social situations.

  • LeonNJ

    I think Barbie corp. went through this some years ago when they came out with new ethnic Barbies. People and those activist groups complained that the original body was still used (I guess ethnics can’t be slim and tall) and the ethnic features weren’t ethnic enough. I forget what finally came out of it, but as of now, I don’t believe the Barbie manufactures spent millions trying to create a squatty, fat, wide faced doll to appease the Al Sharptons of the world.

    • Kenner

      I’m partial to the Klaus Barbie, the Lederhosen and Edelweiss edition.

  • how about this

    “What Apple has done is introduce race into everyday conversations where it doesn’t necessarily need to be.”

    Wow, someone at the Washington Post actually admitted that there are situations where discussing race might be unnecessary.

  • De Doc

    Well, why don’t blacks create their own ethnic friendly emojis? Oh, silly me! That was a stupid question.

  • Light from the East

    For me that’s simple:
    1. If you just want to use it normally, choose the default.
    2. If you want to show the real face, choose the one having closest features to yourself.
    3. If you don’t like it, don’t use it.

    Anyone who is going mad about it is crazy.

  • IKUredux

    The answer is simple. Blow up the Earth. That’s right. We Whites should threaten to blow up the Earth. At least, we should threaten to blow up Mecca. And Somalia. And, the entire Mideast. What is the point of having bombs if we don’t use them?

    Could we Whites at least move to some designated geographic area that is ours alone? Come on! We have the fire power, we have the military might, why the hell are we not using it? Why are we allowing ourselves to be marginalized?

    What is going on? Why are all these colored hordes being allowed to take over our countries? You know what? There is no good reason. There are only bad reasons. It needs to stop. Now. ENOUGH.

    • Alden

      Check out Irishsavant. Blog about the Africans in Ireland

      Global warming is a myth but even it it remains under the ice Greenland might be a refuge

  • T_Losan

    The author admits that blackness is more than just pigmentation. I hope she’s consistent with this the next time she feels like tweeting about discrimination over “color of skin”.

  • I think the author has some good points. Perhaps they should have animal emojis. Maybe they already do. Many companies already use animals in their ads to avoid racial issues. As for the lack of “black features” on the black emojis, they could be Ethiopians. Many Ethiopians look like white people with dark skin.

  • superlloyd

    The naggers always whine. Damned if we do;Damned if we don’t. The best course is to ignore their petty gripes. If they don’t like it let them create their own products. Fat chance I know.

  • Basketeddie

    Political correctness gone wild? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

  • 李冠毅

    Sigh, does everything have to be about race? I have always thought that emoticons are racially neutral and can be used to represent anyone. I never even thought that racially diverse emoticons were necessary, and would probably never even have thought up that idea if it wasn’t for these people. These people are simply obsessed with race.

  • James Smith

    There is no way to please blacks and nonwhites.

    All attempts are folly.

    But liberals just cannot grasp this.

    In housing for example, if getting loans is not racial and based on credit history only, then blacks are denied loans because they have lower credit – so they cry ‘racism’ due to lower home ownership rates.

    But if we lower the standards for blacks for mortgages and then they get housing they cannot afford – and often default – then it is called ‘predatory lending’, also called ‘racist’.

    Trying to please blacks is a fools game.

  • WR_the_realist

    Simple solution. Go back to the original emoticons, first introduced by Scott Fahlman.
    0 🙂 (angel)
    ] :-> (devil)

    It was always kind of dorky to replace those elegant bits of text with dumb little pictures, anyway.

  • BlueSonicStreak

    Because I’m black, should I now feel compelled to use the “appropriate” brown-skinned nail-painting emoji? Why would I use the white one? Now in simple text messages and tweets, I have to identify myself racially.

    Except that, along with the pale- and dark-skinned ones, the old yellow ones appear to still exist.

    So if you don’t want to identify yourself racially, USE THE YELLOW ONES, you dumb skin sack.

    I absolutely despise people like this. They get a sick pleasure out of telling whites that, nope, we STILL didn’t get it right. Toss them out a sixth-story window.

    • “Because I’m black, should I now feel compelled…”
      –Paige Tutt (original WaPo article)

      Because you’re black, I simply don’t give a rip how you feel. Get over your useless black self, Paige.

  • HE2

    This is newsworthy? Who uses emoticons? Teenagers and intellectually challenged 30 year old ‘puter addicts who live in their parent’s basements?

  • David Ashton

    I use a green square one with glasses if I have to email a much younger female student friend about her work. It had never occurred to me to think “race” (just “sex”).

  • Paleoconn

    It’s funny how black and brown faces in children’s books (every book has a few) are just like the White faces, only darker. No differences in other features like nose, lips, hair, forehead, behavior. After all, race is only skin color, right?