New yellow emoji face on Apple. Is it racist?

What does this yellow face really means?


Saadoun Samer S.

On Tuesday, February 24, Apple finally entered people of color to the emoji list that was updated with the new version of the Apple’s operating system. This new list contains 300 new emoji with different skin colors and races.

The variety of colors are part of the Apple’s plan to include every country and race around the world, and certainly they did well except for one detail, What do the yellow faces represent?

Around social networks, especially in Twitter, a controversy was created. People agree that this yellow emoji is racist, according to Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post who says, ” ‘Yellow face,’ much like ‘Black Face,’ describes a specific, historical portrayal of Asians-one that many consider racist, offensive and hurtful, to this day.”

But is it really racist? Some of the people that think that this color is humiliating to Asian people, but they don’t know that the yellow color means ethnically neutral. Remember all the emoji implanted in the start of the emoji family are yellow; Apple didn’t design a special color for Asian because the company didn’t create a special emoji to represent every race. They created the series of tones according the “Fitzpatrick Scale,” as The Washington Post says.

The yellow face doesn’t qualify as a human representation and the fact of looking at this face as a representation of Asian people is racist. The counter that Apple has is that they ask us to see emoji as real people; according to The Washington Post, on that point, some twitters say, “When real human people are called “Yellow faces”… is explicitly racist.”