Apple has been taking fire from netizens after they released the beta version of their new set of racially diverse emojis, but Asians, in particular, aren’t happy about being depicted as yellow — literally.
The innovative tech company has struggled in the past to offer any diversity through their set of emojis.
This is about as diverse as it gets right now without add-ons:
We’ve got some guy with a mustache thing going on, maybe he could be hispanic. We’ve got various white faces of different ages in random professions. The Asian face is clear to pick out because of the eyes, but not all Asians wear that hat, and there also isn’t an Asian female emoji. There’s a Middle Eastern or Indian face, though not all Middle Easterners or Indians wear turbans — also no female versions. Then that dark moon emoji is the closest thing to a black person’s face. We can all agree it’s a pretty poor representation of diversity.
So this is Apple’s new answer:
All the faces are the same — at least there are black people now, but no Asian face is realistically that yellow. Is that what Apple really thinks Asians look like? Commence internet backlash.
You can imagine the angry reaction from most Asians at first glance of being depicted as yellow. Of course, there is an explanation for the racial depiction faux pas.
Using the Fitzpatrick scale, which is a recognized standard in dermatology, the skin tones are just six generic tones, none of which were created to represent any race. It turns out that Apple isn’t even the creator of the emojis, but instead use what was developed by a firm called the Unicode Consortium
. Unicode explains in a statement on the subject:
“Five symbol modifier characters that provide for a range of skin tones for human emoji are planned for Unicode Version 8.0 (scheduled for mid-2015). These characters are based on the six tones of the Fitzpatrick scale, a recognized standard for dermatology… The exact shades may vary between implementations.”
So there are five modifiers, but six faces? It turns out that the yellow face is just the default color, which is why nearly all smiley face emojis are yellow-faced.
Okay, so the good news is that Apple doesn’t think all Asians are yellow-faced people, but the bad news is that they really half-assed their attempt to offer more racially diverse emojis. I guess you can’t please everyone.
This new set of emojis should be available when iOS 8.3 is rolled out later this year.