Skin tone emoji etiquette?
November 2, 2019 7:16 AM   Subscribe

I've started hanging out on a bunch of Slack groups as part of my recent networking drive. People are constantly using the hand signal emojis to signify their feelings towards a post or link. A few people use the emojis that best approximate their skin tone. More commonly, people stick with the default yellow. I'm a white person, which should I be using?

I have googled around but could find no consensus.

Quite a few people on black Twitter suggest that using a skin tone emoji that doesn't correspond with your own skin tone is offensive.

This white person who describes themselves as an 'ally' on Twitter seems to be suggesting that using the lighter skin tones is offensive and everyone should use the dark skin tone emojis. (I'm thinking this may be an outlier?)

This person on Twitter suggests that using the light skin tone is symbolic of white pride.

I've also come across much discussion of the fact that the yellow default is essentially used as a signifier of white skin on the Simpsons.

Should I just give up on emojis with skin tones? Use neutral symbols?

I'd like to be on the side of good, so I'd appreciate any advice or pointers in the direction of some kind of standardised etiquette, like the emoji-related equivalent of conference behavioural guidelines. Thanks in advance.
posted by doornoise to Society & Culture (7 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: poster's request -- LobsterMitten

The white person who wants to use PoC emoji is wrong. White pride morons are also trying to taint the “OK” symbol and the way to push back against that sort of thing is not to let them monopolize it.

Use Simpsons yellow or the one closest to yourself.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:29 AM on November 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

I’m not a POC, but I’ve had POC tell me that using the default one isn’t ideal because it suggests that the default skin color is white (or at least close to white). Sort of like how Crayola used to call the color peach “Skin.”
posted by holborne at 7:33 AM on November 2, 2019

There's been a whole lot written on this topic; one of the better articles is Why White People Don’t Use White Emoji. Most advice I trust says to use the one that matches your skin tone.

Slack gets doubly tricky with reacji. If someone with one skin colour reacts with, say, a thumbs up the natural thing to do is to click and thumbs up yourself. But now your vote is tagged with their skin colour. It's extra effort but a second thumbs up in your own colour may be preferable. The neat thing about this is on a popular post you'll get a bunch of thumbs ups in different colours and it looks nice and diverse! The bad thing is it becomes a sort of unintentional poll of races.
posted by Nelson at 7:35 AM on November 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Especially since they are separately tallied. It comes off very ick to me. Slack should stack them with a slight isometric offset effect and display a single tally.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:37 AM on November 2, 2019

We had this discussion before, I think.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:42 AM on November 2, 2019

Apologies, I missed that on search. I'll mark this one as resolved and the mods can delete or not as they see fit.
posted by doornoise at 7:43 AM on November 2, 2019

Browsing the feed of that "ally", he's either a troll or a parody account. Just in case you were relying on his advice for other behavior.
posted by acidic at 8:05 AM on November 2, 2019

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