How emoji use can reinforce racist white supremacy

Too much of anything is… fucking annoying.

Emojis are like curse words; there’s time and place for them in informal communication, but the more you use them the less effective they become.


Furries tend to use stickers these days over emoji.


Not just furries:


It’s even weirder than that. When Lego started making brown minifigs, they also made a more realistic caucasian flesh tone for the white star wars characters and white basketball players. This continues today, but generally only for licensed characters. Sets that are not licensed, still retain the simpson’s yellow. No word yet, on how the beige characters get along with the yellow ones.

I disagree with this. Emoticons arose because meaning is too easy to misinterpret in print, regardless of your vocabulary. You’re sounding needlessly classist here. Even Proust or Hemingway are regularly misinterpreted in tone, and they have all the vocabulary a person might hope for. Particularly in the moment, not after decades of English majors analyzing and telling us explicitly what the tone was in each piece. The problem worsens as space is reduced, and electronic forms of communication are necessarily shorter, due to technology constraints and a desire for increased efficiency. Emoticons and emoji are a very efficient form of communication when used well, and as such their value is only increasing,

Your jab at the English style of emoticons also seems to suggest an ignorance of entire other ecosystems of emoticons that arose in other cultures and languages. Asian countries, for example, preferred a horizontal style based on different character sets (especially leaning into to Unicode later) while us North Americans were frantically typing colons and parentheses into BBSes and Usenet in the 1970s.

I remember your “emoticons are for stupid people” argument back then, and it was no less tedious than it is now.


Come on BB Commentariat, we’re better than this.

The majority of this thread seems to be:

  1. White people denying there’s a problem here, no matter how small
  2. White people debating the nuance with each other
  3. @Melizmatic having to go around the room re-explaining the basics of racism to everyone.

An issue like this is the perfect time for white people (like me) to shut up and listen. You say yellow emoji are a problem? Thank you, I didn’t realize. Stop using white fist icons because of what it says right now? No problem- thanks for the heads-up.

This has been your friendly reminder that the non-oppressed group doesn’t get to decide what is oppression and what isn’t. Now I’ll stop talking too so I can learn more.


The irony.

I dissagree. “Listen”, certainly, but shut up is hardly a path to any sort of change. If there is an inherent problem inside the thought process of a particular group of people there is an infinetly greater chance of them understanding it and maybe correcting it if they are part of the conversation instead of just the subject of relentless condescending sermons.


Like a black fly in my Chardonnay? Did I misinterpret the OP’s tone despite them clearly being a well-spoken individual?

Gosh, if only there was a linguistic tool of some sort to help prevent this problem.


The author is dead. Each reader substitutes her own reading. There is no correct interpretation, and therefore there are no misinterpretations either.


I was thinking something simmilar but not quite as concise as you put it.

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I think the real problem with emoji as such is that they have too much detail, things like shading and colours which move them slowly out of the “everyman” corner and into being a representation of something specific. Sure, the original yellow may have come from the “have a nice day” button, and a lot of emojis sets still look more like buttons than like faces, but giving them colour and a framing circle made them into full characters, not just shorthand for an emotion.

Adding a color, any color, makes an emoji into a character with certain ethnic features implied. It might have been better to have emoji be transparent, the eyes and mouth and whatever else is needed then a contrast to the background: equally usable as white on black as black on white. More of a stick figure aesthetic, a hieroglyphics aesthetic.

All I want is to use genderless semiotics that do not include any ethnic tells, be it skin colour or epicanthic folds or hair types or whatever. Pare it down to just the emotion, no other cultural luggage, please. Just let me know which is acceptable, and I, dear sir or madam, will use it.


How did you end up stuck in the 1990s?


I took a lit crit class or two back in the 1990s.

Unicode emoji only have a reference description and simple colorless example. It’s up to vendors to interpret them. The same emoji on different platforms look completely different.






“If you don’t teach me, how I will I ever learn?”

Also known as the biggest derailment/deflection tactic in the book.


Funnily enough, the people who say that tend to be the exact same people always harping on about personal responsibility, “those people” on welfare, boot straps, self-made narratives, etc… :thinking: I mean, people CAN educate themselves, right?


Sure, if that was their actual goal.

In my experience, all too often in these uncomfortable conversations about race, the people repeatedly asking to have all the mental “heavy lifting” done for them don’t usually have any real interest in learning anything.

They just want to muddy the waters of the conversation and to reinforce the ideas that they already believe.


Bingo! And they think we can’t see that…