Remember when you had to press the colon and the parentheses key to type a smiley face into an email or text? The Stone Ages of technology, right? Fast forward a few years, and the digital world is crawling with an all new phenomenon: Emojis, a small, yellow smiley face icon designed to represent a variety of ideas and emotions in technological communication.
However, with Apple’s new iOS 8.3 update, users now have the option to diversify their keyboards with six different ethnicities, opening the door to racial inclusion throughout the digital world.
“I think it’s a great thing for Apple to being doing. It’s awesome to support diversity and by widening the range in which they portray their Emojis. They are teaching people that whites shouldn’t be the dominant race because we should all share in life equally. I think there’s a certain beauty in diversity and I’m so happy to see Apple doing this,” freshman Charlie Woodruff said.
Unfortunately, Apple’s well-intentioned effort to showcase racial equality has already regressed into a tool to promote racist jokes and create questions of race in texts and tweets where it may never have existed before. People now have to wrestle with daily questions like, “Why did he send me a white thumbs up instead of a black one?”
Through the creation of racially diverse Emojis, Apple has introduced the subject of race into contexts where it’s neither pertinent nor necessary. Even major companies, like Clorox, have felt the burden of this new reality when they faced heavy criticism for their tweet, “New Emojis are alright but where’s the bleach.” Of course, after Clorox realized how their tweet could be misinterpreted, they released an apology stating they never meant to come across as racist, but the company’s blunder raises an excellent point.
Fundamentally, Apple had good intentions to integrate a variety of races into their Emojis, but their execution missed the mark. Instead of developing a new line of Emojis to represent a wider range of ethnicities, Apple simply used a cookie-cutter tactic in which they copied the template for white Emojis and just replaced the color.
In past updates, Apple has released Emojis that were clearly designed to stereotype specific races, including a turban wearing Middle Eastern and a narrow eyed, skull cap wearing Asian. Since Apple has already thrown politically correctness out the window, their efforts to diversify Emojis are meaningless.
Ultimately, Emojis were designed to represent an idea or emotion. With Apple’s induction of racially diverse Emojis, the company is straying away from the icon’s original purpose. Instead of allowing emotions to remain universal, self-expression has been fragmented into categories of colors. Apple would have been better off by keeping Emojis all yellow, that way emotions could remain applicable to everyone.