NPR roasted for ’emoji researcher’ article on ‘white privilege’ emojis

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(Video Credit: Sky News Australia)

National Public Radio (NPR) was widely mocked on Wednesday for posting an article on the “complex” use of emojis and how they allegedly denote ignorance of “white privilege” depending on which color a user chooses.

The NPR headline read, “Which skin color emoji should you use? The answer can be more complex than you think.” It delved into white people using the common yellow-handed, thumbs-up emoji and how it purportedly relates to white privilege. The authors of the mind-bending piece are Alejandra Marquez Jans, Asma Khalid, and Patrick Jarenwattananon.

“In 2015, five skin tone options became available for hand gesture emojis, in addition to the default Simpsons-like yellow,” the article reports. “Choosing one can be a simple texting shortcut for some, but for others it opens a complex conversation about race and identity.”

“I completely hear some people are just exhausted [from] having to do that. Many people of color have to do that every day and are confronted with race every day,” researcher Zara Rahman stated. “But for many white people, they’ve been able to ignore it, whether that’s subconsciously or consciously, their whole lives.”

NPR publicized the piece on Twitter, saying, “Some white people may choose [yellow thumbs-up emoji] because it feels neutral — but some academics argue opting out of [tan thumbs-up emoji] signals a lack of awareness about white privilege, akin to society associating whiteness with being raceless.”

“I use the default emoji, the yellow-toned one for professional settings, and then I use the dark brown emoji for friends and family,” a person named Jennifer Epperson said, according to NPR. “I just don’t have the emotional capacity to unpack race relations in the professional setting.”

She identifies as black and claimed she changes her approach depending on who she was talking to when it comes to emojis.

“I use the brown one that matches me,” Sarai Cole told NPR. “I have some friends who use the brown ones, too, but they are not brown themselves. This confuses me.”

Users on Twitter thought the whole issue was ridiculous.

Conservative pundit John Hawkins summed up the feelings of many out there, blasting the silliness of the whole subject, “There has to be something fundamentally wrong with you as a human being to even spend enough time thinking about this subject to write an article on it.”

Manhattan Institute senior fellow Chris Rufo snarked, “Incredible that it took *three* NPR employees to write something this stupid.”

Author and professor Dr. Gad Saad tweeted, “Thank you for tackling the horrifying racism implicit in emojis.”

Senior judicial fellow Casey Mattox suggested, “Or, you know, maybe people use the option sitting right in front of them. Right click on a windows laptop. Click ‘emoji.’ Type ‘Thumbs up.’ The option is the yellow thumb. Not a mystery. And this is otherwise, dumb. But others will make that point.”

NPR was excoriated by one of its own employees in January for allegedly race-centric issues. Following the resignation of Audie Cornish, who was the host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” her co-host Ari Shapiro asserted that NPR losing diverse hosts was a “crisis.”

“It has been difficult this year to say goodbye to @nprgreene @lourdesgnavarro @NoelKing @RadioMirage and more. If NPR doesn’t see this as a crisis, I don’t know what it’ll take,” Shapiro remarked.

Isabel Lara, NPR’s chief communications officer, responded to the accusation in a statement that was released to Fox News, stating that “Continuing and improving our diversity efforts is NPR’s foremost priority.”


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