New Emojis Arrive: Racist & Problematic? People React To New Diverse Emojis

The new emojis arrived late last week. Apple released the iOS 8.3 update that includes new racially diverse emojis, flags from over 30 countries, and new Siri languages. Not everybody is excited to see the new emojis, though. Apple lovers have been voicing their opinions within the media or on social media. If you didn’t know, you can now choose your favorite emojis – or emoticons – from up to six different skin colors. If you can’t find the right skin color, you can stick to the default yellow color, according to the Diamondback.

FOX 11 Reno asked students at the University of Nevada about their reactions to the new diverse emoji keyboard. Most of them agree that having a wide diversity of emojis is a good thing.

Rair Urriola said: “They should’ve done it to begin it so people wouldn’t complained for so long. There’s been so many updates since then.”

Senna Hendia responded: “It gives you more variety. I have an Hispanic friend and she’s like, ‘Now I have someone that’s like me, and I don’t have to use a white girl emoji.’ ”

Jordan Wines said: “I think it’s great that they’re showing the world the way it is because there are people of different races.”

Contributor Naomi Jay Harris on the Diamondback is not entirely pleased or unhappy with the new emojis. She likes that Apple tried to include most races, even if hers isn’t covered. But she also feels that adding new emojis won’t help us deal with real racial issues in the world.

“So thanks Apple — thank you for taking the time out to add a little more color into daily lives because before then I didn’t know what emoji to use. None of them represented me except the one with the browner skin and a turban.

While some people commend the change, I can’t help but react with indifference. Sure, it’s great that I can add a black emoji at the end of my sentence. Now can we move on to talk about real racial issues?”

Lucia Peters is baffled by the new emojis. The Bustle contributor would like to know why yellow is the default color for the emojis. She noticed that the yellow emojis could be problematic, as they stereotype Asian people.

“The initial question is actually two-pronged: One, why is the default color for all emoji faces yellow? And two, why does it look like the new racially diverse emoji represent Asian people with a somewhat offensive bright yellow skin tone? Let’s start with the second one, as it’s easier to explain (albeit still a little lengthy). In short, the yellow emoji in the racially diverse set are not meant to represent Asian people (thank goodness). The implication that it was can probably be chalked up to an unfortunate design oversight.”

CNN is happy that the new emojis reflect America as it truly is: a melting pot. Contributor Dean Obeidallah did note how these new emoticons are also problematic for most users.

“The fact is, when you embrace diversity, you will still leave out other minority groups. Redheads, for example, are pretty pissed off because there are no emojis featuring their hair color. In fact, supporters of a redheaded emoji have started a petition that has already garnered several thousand signatures. Even expanding the flags represented by emojis, as Apple has done, comes at some peril. Apparently, Canada is overjoyed that finally Apple has included it. But Armenians are not happy they were left out.”

Paige Tutt of The Washington Post wrote that the new emojis are more problematic than ever. She doesn’t understand why she would have to use a black emoji to convey her feelings through a text or on social media.

“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.”

Tutt also said that changing the color of an emoji is just “bastardized emoji blackface.”

The new emojis only work if you receive the update. If you don’t have the iOS 8.3 update, then you will receive or view an alien emoji. Android users also won’t be able to send or receive the new diverse emojis. They will be able to only send and receive the standard white emojis.

What are your thoughts on Apple’s new emojis? Do you think they’re a great idea or a huge problem?

[Image: Niels Heidenreich/Flickr]