When you browse through the emojis on your phone, there are very few non-Caucasian ones to choose from. I mean, they have a water buffalo but no representation of people of color? That’s why, as an emoji addict, I’m glad that Miley Cyrus and “Baby Daddy” star (and lil bro to Tia and Tamera Mowry), Tahj Mowry, have brought up the lack of diversity in the 400-plus emojis.
In 2012, Miley tweeted:
RT if you think there needs to be an #emojiethnicityupdate— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) December 19, 2012
Earlier this month, Tahj co-signed with her.
It makes me mad that there are no black emojis...— Tahj Mowry (@Tahj_Mowry) March 16, 2014
After thinking about what Tahj wrote, I decided to go straight to the top of Apple to find out if they were planning to issue a new, more diverse, set of emojis. So who better to reach out to than Apple CEO Tim Cook? Within a day we got a response! After Tim read my email, he forwarded it on to Katie Cotton, vice president of worldwide corporate communications for Apple.
Katie told me exclusively:
“Tim forwarded your email to me. We agree with you. Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.”
We’re stoked that they’re working to update the emojis (insert clapping hands, y’all!) but there’s no word yet on a planned rollout date. As always, Apple is keeping us in suspense, but here’s hoping it’s sooner than, say, the … iPhone 20.
And just because we here at MTV Act think creating a more diverse set of emojis is the right thing to do doesn’t mean everyone understands why it’s such a big f—ing deal.
The comments section following a Fast Company story titled “Are Emoji Racist?” is flooded with notes about people becoming “too sensitive” these days. To that, I ask: How is asking for more inclusive emojis being too sensitive? Equality is important, even in digital winky-face form, and sometimes when it comes to the biggest challenges we face, no step is too small. Although it may “just” be an emoji, representation of all races and genders is an important part of working towards a more equal society.
In a recent New York Times article discussing race equality in America, it was reported that “1 in 3 blacks said they were treated unfairly within the last year because of perceptions of their race.” Although we have made great strides toward racial equality, it’s apparent we still have a lot of work to do. Adding more diversity to emojis helps the process of creating more racial representation. It could also help people celebrate Black History Month with more flair!
What are YOUR thoughts? Join the convo on Twitter by using the hashtag #EmojiEthnicityUpdate!
Do Something About it!
Ask Apple to add more diversity to the Emoji keyboard — so they'll do it sooner rather than later!
Sign Change.org's Petition
Ask Apple AND Google to support equality and make diverse emojis!