Apple says iOS emojis should be more racially diverse

Racial diversity is a good thing — be it in professional sports, public education or just society in general. But there’s one place it’s sorely lacking. And Apple might be working to fix it.

We’re talking about Emojis – the colorful keyboard set on your smartphone that includes everything from those yellow smileys to what appears to be identical twins tap dancing. (Via Apple)

What it doesn’t include? People of color. Well, except these two guys. (Via Apple)

MTV reached out to Apple to see about expanding the set to be more racially representative by emailing CEO Tim Cook. And in a couple days they got a response back from Apple’s VP of worldwide corporate communications Katie Cotton. 

She wrote, “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.” (Via MTV)

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Sounds like a step in the right direction. But changes to that Unicode standard seem to be slow-going.

As Ars Technica reports, past changes have taken several years. “Google, Apple and others began pushing to get Emoji included in Unicode as far back as 2007, but the current set wasn't actually implemented until the release of Unicode 6.0 in October 2010.”

And actually, the push to update the set has been going on for years, too.

As BetaBeat reports, unlikely Emoji civil rights champion Miley Cyrus jump-started the movement in December 2012 — asking followers to retweet her if they thought there needed to be a #emojiethnictiyupdate. 

And actor Tahj Mowry, of "Smart Guy" and "Sister, Sister" fame, tweeted earlier this month, “It makes me mad that there are no black emojis." (Via Twitter / Tahj Mowry)

A petition has even been started on social change website Do Something. It currently has more than 4,000 signatures.

Point taken. But in Apple’s defense, there have been progressive-minded changes to the set in the past. As Gizmodo reports, the company added gay and lesbian couples back in the summer of 2012.

For a writer at The Register, though, it’s not so much what’s in the Emoji set, but the set itself. He notes,“Personally, this reporter thinks using Emojis is a crime in itself. OK, so it's not quite as bad as being a racist, but it's really bloody annoying.”

The Wall Street Journal notes there have been movements for other, arguably less noble, changes as well. Those include a push for a hotdog icon among the pizza, ice cream and eggplant that already populate the list.  

No word yet on when or even if Apple will make these Emoji changes.

We’re thinking the sooner the better if they don’t want the Internet to send them this guy. (Via Apple)

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