Solution Posed for Emoji’s Race Problem

Racially Diverse Emojis
A proposal drafted by the Unicode Consortium lays out a possible method for creating racially diverse emoji characters for users.

The popular symbols used by many people with smartphones and computers today were created in 1999 and were initially supposed to depict inhuman, cartoon-like complexions, such as yellow or orange colors. But they have increasingly become used to show emotions, with most of the human emoji’s depicted with a light complexion.

“The Unicode emoji characters for people and body parts are meant to be generic,” the proposal explained. “Yet following the precedents set by the original Japanese carrier images, they are often shown with a light skin tone instead of a more generic (inhuman) appearance, such as a yellow/orange color or a silhouette.”This has brought much criticism and people around the world have called for more diversity in these characters.

The characters are often criticized because of the lack of diversity and even stars such as Miley Cyrus commented on the issue.

The proposal, developed by Apple engineer Peter Edberg and Unicode co-founder Mark Davis, lays out a solution on how the standard model of emojis could embrace these diverse emojis used the six skin tones in the Fitzpatrick scale. This scale is a spectrum of human skin colors and would allow users to modify the skin tone of the emoji.

Fitzpatrick Scale
Unicode is a non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley that is made up of major computer firms, software producers, user groups and others. According to the Washington Post, the organization “develops and maintains the software standard for how text and characters (including emoji) are represented in all languages on every device, including mobile phones and desktop computers.”

While the proposal is still under review, Davis said in an email to the Washington Post that he thinks “it is very likely” that the new characters will be included in the next update, Unicode 8.0.