Emoji are great. They manage to get the point across without saying much, making our instant world that much more instant. However, since its inception and series of iterations in the years that followed, emoji have failed to diversify and include people of color.
However, Unicode Consortium, the group responsible for the way emoji work on our devices, has plans to change that.
In a proposal published on Tuesday, November 4, Mark Davis and Peter Edberg outlined Unicode's plan to roll out an update that consists of five different skin tones. "The Unicode emoji characters for people and body parts are meant to be generic," the proposal read, "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. Unicode Version 8.0 is adding five symbol modifier characters that provide for a range of skin tones for human emoji."
Of course, five skin tones do not encompass the entire human spectrum. Unicode understands that and stressed that this update will represent every "aspect of human appearance," but not the experience in full. (This includes varying hair styles, body types, and interests.)
The emoji update will not be immediate, though. Davis and Edberg explained new emoji will start popping up in waves come 2015. Until then, why not brush up on your emoji vernacular so that when the update hits, you'll know exactly how to convey that feeling you get when you want to watch The Devil Wears Prada. (Bloomberg Businessweek)