The Web Log of Jon Henshaw

🤷 Race and Emojis

Written by , published on and related to 💻 Technology


Emojis used to be simple. It used to be that all I had to do was search for one and then use it. There was a problem with them though. If you picked an emoji of a person 👱‍♂️ or a body part 👍, every single one was (is) jaundice.

I have some theories around this. They mostly revolve around the global conspiracy of the secretive Jaundice Illuminati, but it’s not safe for me to discuss that in any detail here. Also, jaundice isn’t funny, so even if you smirked at that sentence, you are probably a horrible person and need therapy.

The point is that yellow emoji people are seen as racially insensitive. Even if they are yellow and suffering from a medical condition, most people agree that it’s based on Caucasians. To fix that, the emoji gods created skin tone options. That all leads to the reason I’m writing this post.

Which emoji should I choose?

When I first saw this option, I was petrified. Because of my unconscious, tone-deaf, and I assume occasional toxic male white privilege, I immediately had to think about who I might trigger based on which one I would choose.

Emoji Skin Tone Choice

Here’s just a sample of some of the thoughts that raced through my mind when I was first confronted with this choice:

How could picking an emoji become so damn complex? So for now, I’m just going to stick with jaundice. Mindless, yellow, potentially racially insensitive – and most certainly medically insensitive – default yellow emoji 👍