*Apple’s new “racially diverse” emoji may have been a step in the right direction for some, but it’s more or less a move that had potential but “in some ways, made the situation worse,” according to a PostEverything article in the Washington Times.
In an editorial published on Friday (April 10), Paige Tutt mentioned the downside of Apple’s feature as the emoji are being “used to make racist comments on social media and insert questions of race in texts and tweets where it may never have arisen before.
“Instead of correcting its mistake — excluding people of color from emoji — Apple has, in some ways, made the situation worse,” Tutt wrote, adding that “predictably, many people are using the multicultural emoji to refer to race, and in the worst ways possible.”
The writer’s comments come day after Apple introduced the emoji on Thursday (April 9), which allows users to sift through shades of white and brown to customize their emoji skin colors.
Although the light shined on diversity with the emoji in its iOS 8.3 update was applauded by Tutt, she questioned the effecitiveness of using the new emoji along with the other ones that are already present, saying “Apple has allowed for further racial segregation with these new emoji.
“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,” she said. “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 goes on to reference a tweet from Clorox in response to the new emoji (“where’s the bleach?”), which resulted in a severe backlash from the public and an apology from the company on Twitter amid pressure from the criticism, saying the comment wasn’t meant to be about race.
“Apple’s intent was good. But the execution was completely flawed. Apple took the easy way out. Instead of creating actual emojis of color, Apple simply allows its users to make white emoji a different color,” Tutt said. “With this update, the company skirts around having to attribute certain physical characteristics to certain races of people. For example, there’s nothing specifically “black” about an emoji with browner skin. Deepening the skin color of a previously white emoji doesn’t make the emoji not white. It’s just a bastardized emoji blackface. The blond-haired emoji man and the blue-eyed emoji princess are clearly white, but you can slip them into a darker-colored skin. These new figures aren’t emoji of color; they’re just white emoji wearing masks.”
To read Tutt’s full analysis of Apple’s new emoji, click here.