Why Aren’t There Black Emojis?

Smart phones and the applications that go along with them have become one of the cultural equalizers of the 21st century. Although income brackets are still severely divided by their prevalence, more than half of Americans now own a smartphone — many of whom use emojis to communicate. But even though all races use emojis, not all of them are represented in them.

That’s something the Unicode Consortium, who runs emojis on smartphones, addressed in a recent call to action earlier this week. Mark Davis and Peter Edberg noted that there is room for diversity in the faces that are represented by the popular emoticon brand, the pair released in a statement.

“People all over the world want to have emoji that reflect more human diversity, especially for skin tone. The Unicode emoji characters for people and body parts are meant to be generic, yet following the precedents set by the original Japanese carrier images, they are often shown with a light skin tone instead of a more generic (inhuman) appearance, such as a yellow/orange color or a silhouette.

Unicode Version 8.0 is adding 5 symbol modifier characters that provide for a range of skin tones for human emoji. These characters are based on the six tones of the Fitzpatrick scale, a recognized standard for dermatology.”

Proposals for color changes, of course, don’t solely extend to black emojis, but also to six other skin tones that the company is looking to implement. Although there is currently no static time frame for when the ethnic facelift will hit the product, the next update to the system is expected to be released in 2015.

The possibility of more colors being added to the emoji spectrum intrigued Twitter users, many of whom responded something to the tune of “it’s about time.”

Do you think black emojis have implications for racial diversity?

[Image via Unicode]