Why White People Don’t Use White Emoji

Excerpt from this article:

When they were first launched in 2015, emoji skin tones corrected an obvious wrong. Previously, if a black man or a Latino woman wanted to text a friend the thumbs-up emoji on an iPhone, a white hand would show up…

But as emoji with skin tones spread to Twitter, Facebook, and workplace chat applications like Slack, I noticed something I hadn’t expected: …almost no one I knew used the lightest skin tone, or even the second-lightest. Indeed, as a white man who tends to be either pale or sunburnt, I had never considered using it myself. When I did switch briefly to the lightest tone at work, it felt … weird.

…this effect may also signal a squeamishness on the part of white people. The folks I talked to before writing this story said it felt awkward to use an affirmatively white emoji; at a time when skin-tone modifiers are used to assert racial identity, proclaiming whiteness felt uncomfortably close to displaying “white pride,” with all the baggage of intolerance that carries.  At the same time, they said, it feels like co-opting something that doesn’t exactly belong to white people—weren’t skin-tone modifiers designed so people of color would be represented online?