Frustrated Face, Thinking Face, Sad Face

Frustrated Face, Thinking Face, Sad Face

Corey WilsonWednesday,4 March 2015

Let’s be straight right outta da gate. I’m whiter than Wonka. I grew up with white privilege—honestly, I grew up with most of it. Like 60% of it was mine. I got anything I wanted whenever I wanted. It was thoroughly good. But like every spoiled kid, there were some terrible side-effects. Mine being that sometimes I just don’t get why people get mad about things. Things like diversifying emoji.

This all started after I read an article about Emma Kelly. She runs a website dedicated to eradicating all non-gingers (I assume), and was distraught when she learned that Apple hadn’t included redheads in their diversification of emoji. (Seriously, is the plural of emoji “emojis,” or “emoji?” Fuck that other petition, Apple; pick a new word for your stupid emoticons.)

Anyway, this is where my whiteness intervenes (I assume) because I just don’t get it. Why would an adult care? I can’t imagine myself flipping through those fucking endless pages of trains and heels and thinking, “Hey, this is bullshit! There’s no white people!” And I definitely wouldn’t start a fucking petition about it. Why not? Because it doesn’t affect my life in any way. Who even uses emoji(s)?

But then I found this other article, because the only jokes I had written were the “Wonka white” one, and the one about pluralising emoji(s), and I still have 300 more words to fill.

This new article was filled with stupid assertions like, “making white be the literal default setting for human icons would be disastrous,” but it forced me to ask myself questions. And it also didn’t assume that the entire ginger population uses iPhones, à la Emma Kelly. The question raised for me personally was, “Well, if I don’t care about white emoji(s), why not get rid of them all and see how I feel then?” Which was the premise of the article. I think.

I think it would be a good idea, not because of the “Proteus effect,” as the article suggests, but because it would force many of us who just don’t fucking get the hubbub, to experience what it’s like to be left out firsthand.

To explain, the “Proteus effect” is when people see themselves as their avatar, which in turn shapes their behaviour. Meaning that if we’re playing a game like True Crime: Streets of L.A. where our character is a white police officer, we’re more likely to act aggressively toward minorities. Sometimes for at least half an hour after we log off.

But many of us white folk have experienced that. I played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and I loved it. Did I have an existential crisis because I was forced to play as CJ, a black male? Nope. Did I write to my MP? Nope. Did I petition Rockstar? Nope. Do I think that I’m incapable of understanding why this is so annoying to some people? Yeah, because I don’t deal with racism, and I haven’t had the experiences many of you have had.

For example, I once saw a lady break down in line at a grocery store and cry because she forgot her PIN. Is that worth crying over? No. And I immediately thought, “Really? You’re an adult. Why are you crying over this?” She had another card to pay with. It just so happened that forgetting her PIN was the final straw in a day filled with bullshit. So maybe, for people who’ve actually experienced racism, this is just another straw on a bale that’s getting too big.

So, even though the article was stupid, there’s some merit behind its idea. Like I’ve said, as someone who hasn’t faced racism, I don’t get the outrage. They’re just emoticons. Maybe I’m proof that white people just aren’t connected enough to the issues of race to really understand these (what seem to be trivial) things. My immediate reaction to the headline, “Let’s get rid of white emojis” was, “Really? This is what we’re complaining about?” But maybe we should stop complaining about the complainers. We’re not in the trenches, and we’ve never had trench foot.

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Hat Tips:

PBS, Stanford, The Guardian, Southpark, Image Credit: Flickr

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