Emojis, those little cartoons you use in text messages when words simply won’t do, have been rising in popularity since it’s creation in Japan by Shigetaka Kurita. However, since it’s introduction, it hasn’t seen that much diversity in terms of racial and cultural representation. In fact, only two people of color – both Asian – are featured as symbols.
And it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
There is currently an online petition asking Apple to add more diversity to their emoji line up. “Of the 800+ Emojis, only two are people of color,” the petition reads. “Tell Apple that minorities deserve representation in Emojis: SIGN and share this petition!”
But of the more than 800 Emojis, the only two resembling people of color are a guy who looks vaguely Asian and another in a turban. There’s a white boy, girl, man, woman, elderly man, elderly woman, blonde boy, blonde girl and, we’re pretty sure, Princess Peach. But when it comes to faces outside of yellow smileys, there’s a staggering lack of minority representation.
Apple has been one of the biggest pioneers of Emojis, from offering them as full-color images to introducing them to the American market in the first place. And, the company has already taken steps to make Emojis more inclusive: iOS6 debuted same-sex couple Emojis.
That’s why we’re asking Apple to take the lead again and diversify their Emoji typeface, recognizing people of color as people…and Emojis. Everyone deserves to feel visible and represented.
MTV Act reached out to Apple regarding the issue and received a response from Katie Cotton, vice president of worldwide corporate communications.
Here’s her reply:
“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.”
So will we see an update any time soon? Only time will tell. Currently, there are no specified dates or concrete plans. The last major update came in 2012, when Apple added gay and lesbian couples as part of iOS 6, according to The Verge.
At the time of publication, the online petition has 4,175 signatures out of 10,000.