Design: Am I an Emoji Racist?

by bxrtley

I’m okay with the yellow emoji icons. I often prefer using them over the “ethnic” options. Heck, I’d even choose the albino or sun-tanned colors. Does that make me racist? Nope. It makes me a designer.

Here’s my theory, while the the yellow emojis were probably selected because of the traditional yellow smiley face, it was kept because it’s just easier to look at, especially at a glance—and even more so for the blue iMessage bubble contrast. The receiver might be able to see the darker options just fine in the gray bubble (except for the darkest option—I’m sorry but that just poor design), but the sender may have difficulties.

Also, but the darker lines used for contrast in the hair, facial expressions, fingers, etc. is easier to see in yellow. And, yellow is ethnic-neutral. Last time I checked, I haven’t seen someone as radiant as the sun. Unless, of course, I’m giving a metaphorical compliment to a woman. I’m sure if I called her chartreuse, we’d have a problem.

Just as “Black on White” and “Black on Yellow” contrasts are the easiest contrasts for readability, the same goes for yellow or brighter emojis on whatever background. For the record, the light brown emojis do work aesthetically. But because people cried for skin tones that both tanned and kissed by the sun, and everything in between, the design suffered. I could be wrong, but that Yellow on Blue and Yellow on Gray are easier to pick up on, especially when you’re just glancing at your iMessages.