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10 Feb, 2022 01:56

US media questions use of non-white emojis by white people

NPR raised eyebrows with an in-depth analysis of the skin colors of emojis and their appropriate use
US media questions use of non-white emojis by white people

Washington-based National Public Radio was ridiculed on Wednesday after it published an article which analyzed what skin color emojis were ethical for various races to use.

The article, titled, ‘Which skin color emoji should you use? The answer can be more complex than you think’, featured interviews with people of various races who discussed the racial justice components of cartoon emojis and whether it is OK for white people to use dark-skinned or ‘neutral’ yellow characters.

“Some white people may choose [the yellow thumbs up emoji] because it feels neutral – but some academics argue opting out of [the white thumbs up emoji] signals a lack of awareness about white privilege, akin to society associating whiteness with being raceless,” the NPR article stated.

It was noted in the piece, however, that some white people purposely use dark-skinned emojis in overwhelmingly white spaces to “even the playing field.”

The article was quickly ridiculed online, with critics mocking the amount of effort the three reporters who contributed to the piece supposedly put into it.

Conservative commentator Lauren Chen wrote, “Measuring ‘privilege’ through emoji usage is the most privileged thing I’ve ever heard.”

“So important we fund this work with our tax dollars. Thank you NPR,” former New York Times tech reporter Nellie Bowles said.

The article also attracted the attention of Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, who commented that while “China is building hypersonic munitions capable of global strike in minutes,” US tax dollars were being spent on the analysis of emojis.

Created by the federal government in 1970, NPR continues to receive a relatively small portion of its funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and federal agencies. The rest of its funding comes from distribution services, private local stations (which, however, can also be funded by state and local governments), and individual contributors.