A Brief History of the Fight for Emoji Diversity

Illustration for article titled A Brief History of the Fight for Emoji Diversity

There's a very important battle happening in America and it's been a long and stressful one: the fight for a more racially diverse emoji selection. Every day we stare at our phones and wonder what could be, what should be. We should live in a world where poop and high-five emoji coexist with black ones, but we don't.


Well, the world is changing. According to Mashable, an emoji update is in the works that will feature more emoji of color:

The Unicode Consortium, the group that governs the emoji standard, proposed an update on Monday that addresses emoji diversity. It noted that while emoji characters were always intended to be generic, the color choices were invariably light-toned or yellow, leaving vast swaths of the human population unrepresented.

Wait, "proposed"? Siiiiigggghhhhh. So basically we're still waiting. As the march toward emoji diversity continues, here's a brief history of this IMPT fight.

December 18, 2012 (7:05 pM): As it were, everything begins with Miley Cyrus, whose tweet about the lack of emoji diversity gets over 6,000 retweets in support. The singer is lauded for kicking off the emoji-diversity revolution. But I'm pretty sure I angrily texted a friend about the issue before Miley.

August 2013: A Do Something petition for more diverse emojis passionately states, "If you look at Apple's Emoji keyboard, what do you see? Two different camels. A smiling turd. EVERY PHASE OF THE MOON. 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." It's time to do something.


August 22, 2013: Fast Company joins the emoji diversity conversation and ponders, "Are Emojis Racist?" The answer is duh.

March 16, 2014: Tahj Mowry can barely contain his sadness over the emoji debate. There's so much anger and drama in those ellipses.


March 25, 2014: MTV reports on Apple's "pledge" to diversify its emoji lineup.

March 26, 2014: A still irate but hopeful Tahj Mowry retweets a Tech Crunch article about Apple's promise for change.


March 27, 2014: Time joins the rally cry.

March 28, 2014: Oju Africa launches an emoji app featuring black emoji. Bravo.

March 31, 2014: Al Jazeera addresses the issue. The dawn of the Emoji thinkpiece.


June 16, 2014: The Unicode Consortium announces 250 new emoji coming in July, none of them emojis of color. Really?? The Atlantic reports: "A Middle Finger, but Still No Emoji People of Color."

June 23, 2014: Apple continues to drag its feet on this important issue and toys with our emoji: Apple Fails To Hurry Along Emoji Diversity.


July 5, 2014: iDiversicon steps up to the plate by introducing its own set of racially diverse emojis, same sex couples included. It markets itself as "the first diverse emojis." Noble intentions, but come on, no one's using these.

July 30, 2014: "Do you think there's a limitation we're suffering from in terms of the racial diversity of these emojis? Mr. Farrow asked linguist John McWhorter, who is black."


Sept. 17, 2014: Lil B valiantly launches his Basedmoji app with emoji of his likeness as a small effort to diversify the pool.

Nov. 4, 2014: New reports surface about the impending emojis of color, via Unicode, we'll have to wait until 2015. Still, we fight.


Image via Unicode


afrocentric twitter bird is pleased. #PeaceMyEmojiBrother #AndSister