Racial diversity has been a problem for emoji for years now, but the Unicode Consortium has finally proposed a new solution that will add more than 755 new character options to the little pictograms that have quickly replaced all our words.
Five new skin tones will added to the mostly white faces of the emoji character set, according to a draft for Unicode Version 8.0 that will hopefully get adopted pretty quickly to get, after Apple and others began to push for characters that reflect the diversity of its users.
The new skin tones are based off the six skin types in the Fitzpatrick scale, the recognized standard in dermatology that divides skin types into categories ranging from dark brown skin down to pale white.
People all over the world want to have emoji that reflect more human diversity, especially for skin tone. The Unicode emoji characters for people and body parts are meant to be generic, yet following the precedents set by the original Japanese carrier images, they are often shown with a light skin tone instead of a more generic (inhuman) appearance, such as a yellow/orange color or a silhouette. Unicode Version 8.0 is adding 5 symbol modifier characters that provide for a range of skin tones for human emoji.
The new set of skin tones modifiers will be applicable to 151 characters in the emoji set. To implement the new skin tone modifiers, the Unicode consortium suggests Apple and others use a long press to bring up a color swatch, or they could just list the 755 new emoji variants on a really long page.
Even black and white displays will be supported in the proposed updated, but ultimately, Unicode says “there are many other types of diversity in human appearance besides different skin tones” like hair style, body shape, facial hair, that are beyond their scope of scope of support.
But don’t worry. They’re working to make embedded graphics the new emoji, because everyone knows GIFS are where it’s at now anyway.