By Charyse Watson, Illustration by Cassie Skoras Kisses in my text inbox. Crying faces about the jokes on Twitter. Googly eyes in the comments section on Instagram. Emoji have invaded the digital social sphere as the new form of expression for our generation. They show what words and punctuation marks just can’t. To meet our never-ending demand, Apple has introduced an insane number of options: humans, lipstick, office supplies, cheeseburger, and nearly anything else (my favorite: a smiling pile of shit).
Smartphone users expect their apps to be tailored to their needs, so unsurprisingly, they love emoji they can identify with. Apple includes emoji that resemble males and females of different age groups, and even recently introduced gay and lesbian couples in the iOS 6 software upgrade, an addition which “reflects reality” as TechCrunch editor, John Biggs, puts it.
But what’s wrong with “reality” when it comes to racial diversity? As of now, Apple has created emoji for Caucasians, Asians, Hispanics, and those who wear turbans. There’s even a European military dude with a tall furry hat (wait, maybe he’s a drum major?). Yet, somehow, the darker-skinned people of the world didn’t make the cut.
Not only did Apple overlook more than two billion people, but the company has given a blatant “fuck you” to all of us asking for an explanation. Okay, Apple didn’t actually respond with an expletive. Rather, the company didn’t respond at all. Apple decided to not even acknowledge the issue that has been the topic of many online discussions since the latest update.
When Sephora started a mini-campaign on Twitter that pushed Apple to include more colors for the nail polish emoji, Miley Cyrus responded with her own 140- character crusade. She urged Apple to include emoji that represented black people, using the hashtag #emojiethnicityupdate. However, Apple ignored poor Miley’s musings and everyone who agreed with her. All the company issued was a whole lot of silence on the issue.
So yeah, it sucks. Without even a response to move forward from, we’re stuck with stereotypical representations of some races, and none at all for others. I guess, for now, all of us black people will just have to deal with those cheesy yellow smileys. JM