Asians were not impressed with Apple’s racially diverse emojis released in the second betas of both iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3. The company has come under fire because of an emoji with yellow skin color.
Racially Diverse Emojis
The beta releases of both the iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3 allow users to select their preferred skin tone for emojis, of which Apple had only used one color in the past: white. For the beta releases, users can choose from a variety of colored faces from a drop-down menu, which can be accessed by long-pressing any preferred emoji. With OS X, the skin color can be selected by tapping an arrow next to the characters via OS X’s default Emoji & Symbols viewer.
Yellow ‘Racist’ Emoji?
Some users found the yellow-skinned emoji offensive, associating it with the unpleasant practice of calling Asians “yellow.” Comments accusing Apple of racism are circulating across bloggers in Weibo, according to a report from Quartz.
Weibo is China’s largest microblogging site, equivalent to Facebook. One blogger said the yellow face makes it look like there is a particular race afflicted with jaundice. “Are yellow people really that yellow,” another blogger asked while one questioned Apple’s rationale behind the yellow-skinned character.
The Chinese aren’t the only ones expressing disgust over the racially diverse emojis. People elsewhere are equally unimpressed.
Asian skin tone in the new Apple emoji set is bright yellow. That seems more racist than racially diverse.
— kray kray (@krazyfrog) February 24, 2015
Who ever has a Bright yellow skin-tone? What does that even mean, Jaundice? Bright yellow emoji for Asians is racist enough, dear Apple.
— Nitish Murthy (@NiTiSHmurthy) February 24, 2015
Hey Apple multicultural emoji update, where’s the Asians? Simpsons yellow skin != asian
— Shalin Pei (@shalinpei) February 24, 2015
Apple rolling out new racially diverse emoji! Not sure how I’m feeling about these ultra-yellow Asian emoji tho http://t.co/VhOsyoXG0p
— Yurie Kwon (@_yuriekwon) February 23, 2015
— Avianne Tan (@avianneflu) February 23, 2015
Is anybody in real life as bright yellow as the new emoji? It looks like it has colic.
— Taylor J. Wofford (@taylorjwofford) February 23, 2015
Apple: “The yellow tones emojis are supposed to represent the default emoji color not Asians.” Yeah okay keep telling yourself that.
— Sierra Slagle (@sierrakristennn) February 24, 2015
Yellow is the default skin color when selecting an emoji, according to AppleInsider.
This rationale was duly explained by The Washington Post. Yellow is a standard shade for emoticons as far back as the AOL days, Caitlin Dewey wrote, further saying the color is not a skin tone, but “generic” default used for these characters. The default was also used by Microsoft and Google, with emojis across Japan having yellow hues even before Apple’s announcement of racially diverse ones. AOL’s Instant Messenger, popular in the 90’s, has 12 emoticons, all yellow in color, notes Dewey.
Furthermore, the yellow-colored face is how the Unicode standard set its recommendation to have generic emoji symbols, according to co.Design.
The beta releases of iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3 also include the face of Santa Claus with a different skin tone, including yellow. Apple’s racially diverse emojis also include LGBT-friendly symbols, including two dads, and two women kissing each other.
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