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World Emoji Day takes place annually on 17 July and is marked with events and new emojis. A particular focus of Unicode’s Emoji 12.0 list, released this year, is creating more representative emojis.
Of all the new additions, these emojis make the most sense. You can expect to see more diverse families, individuals, couples and groups of people combined in a way that is not only more inclusive but also a more accurate reflection of the world that we live in.
In 2012, artist Angélica Dass matched the portraits of 4,000 people from 18 countries with Pantone cards to show that the human colour wheel is not only black and white. This project is called Humane and continued through to 2018, creating conversations about race, culture, religion and our shared humanity along the way.
When ‘art’ imitates life
The role that more diverse or inclusive emojis play goes beyond our keypads. It’s about creating room for more social inclusion. It’s not about assuming that there are ‘safe spaces’, but realising that part of what we’re here to do is create ‘safer spaces’ where all people feel seen and held.
These new emojis address skin colour by enabling people of mixed ethnicities to be paired as couples and in groups. Pride isn’t reserved for one month per year marked with rainbows and revamped brand logos or product packaging – it’s a daily truth. We can also look forward to seeing guide dogs, robotic arms, prosthetics in general, differently-abled individuals and more.
In a world where we’re all looking for ourselves, it might be a small step, but taken in the right direction more inclusive emojis help people – marginalised groups in particular – feel seen. Added to that is the opportunity this creates to talk about inclusivity as a whole.