• Dave McDonald

    Assistant Director, Social Media Twitter Profile

    Dave McDonald is assistant director of social media in BU’s Office of Public Relations, managing all University social content and strategy. He holds a bachelor's degree from Quinnipiac University, with a major in public relations. In his free time he enjoys running, concerts, and all things geeky. Profile

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There are 7 comments on Boston University Described in Emoji

    1. Hey there,

      Thanks for your comment. The standard “smiley face colored” or yellow emoji are considered race-neutral (when clicking on one on an iPhone you’re presented with an assortment of skin tones). We decided this would be the best option when creating the emoji graphics for this article.

      Here’s an article that explains: https://www.bustle.com/articles/76283-why-are-emoji-yellow-an-exploration-of-default-options-and-arbitrary-color-choices

      Many thanks,

      – Dave

      1. Agree with S. It was possible to use different skin tones, and the article suggests black or dark brown hair to further neutralize race. But for that issue, this was a fun and cute idea.

  1. Dave, the article you link to on Bustle is dated 2015 and speaks of color as an arbitrary choice by a corporation, comparing the yellow to the Simpsons or to LEGO people. Perhaps things have changed since it was published? The colors here are glaringly homogeneous at this moment in time. I know this was meant as a light-hearted piece, but these choices matter.

  2. Unicode’s ideas not withstanding, these emojis just don’t seem ‘generic’. They 100% look like white people, You have to have them side by side with the ‘white person’ emoji to even tell the difference. I could maybe see a round yellow smiley face as generic but together with unicode’s version of ‘generic’ hair and facial features unfortunately they just look like white people.
    Labelling these as universal is arguably worse- it reminds me of crayola’s old “skin color”. It feels dated and definitely not inclusive.

    In this day and age with more emoji options it is possible to do better! Why not just use a range of skin tones and hair styles?

    Also props for displaying a variety of family types and a wheelchair emoji. ‍

  3. I agree with the feedback that the choice of any single color for Emoji “skin” is needlessly normative. The reply that “oh, it’s just generic” only speaks to the assumption that a pale color is “standard” or “default”, which of course reflects the predominance of white-first thinking in US culture.

    Perhaps some of the $10,000,000 just announced as coming into the Anti-Racism Center could be used to train the social media and PR staff at BU, about how their choices in representation reflect a status quo we should be challenging rather than reifying.

    I’d also offer that the choice of disciple-specific icons to represent students in different schools is an example of shallow thinking. To the students in CFA who do digital media and software development as a complement to their performance or visual arts — sorry, you may only identify with a microphone and a palette. To the students in CAS who do environmental policy and analysis — sorry, the microphone and the video camera are denied you in your work. Stick to the trees and the marble-cover composition books we have assigned you.

    BU has made an effort in recent years to embrace boundary-busting work. We’re supposed to be a place where interdisciplinary and multimodal work flourishes.

    Flattening racial diversity to one color; flattening the academic and avocational pursuits of students to one set of stereotypes…. I think we can do better, don’t you? Let’s be the University that resists this kind of reduction.

  4. I agree that the lack of emojis of people of color is an unfortunate but all-too-common oversight. Yet another example of White folks not being aware of their assumptions and automatic exclusionary thinking. It is not a benign error in our times.

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