White people, NPR would like you to stop using the yellow thumb emoji immediately.
NPR, which American tax dollars fund, investigated the ways that some white people benefit from the thumb emojis they use.
A researcher in Berlin named Zara Rahma found that white people think both the white and yellow emojis are theirs, while black people have claim to only the black emojis. Rahma says white people think they can use the yellow emoji because of their systemic entitlement.
“One friend who is white told me that it was because he felt that white people were overrepresented in the space that he was using the emoji, so he wanted to kind of try and even the playing field,” Rahman said. “For me, it does signal a kind of a lack of awareness of your white privilege in many ways.”
White privilege, you see. NPR elaborates in a tweet:
Some white people may choose 👍 because it feels neutral — but some academics argue opting out of 👍🏻 signals a lack of awareness about white privilege, akin to society associating whiteness with being raceless.https://t.co/9g3rochT0K
— NPR (@NPR) February 9, 2022
It took three NPR employees to write this story, and we are glad that an outlet expended so many resources to investigate society’s gravest dangers so carefully.
One of the NPR writers closely studied “Twitter data” and conversely concluded that some white people use the yellow emoji to avoid asserting their privilege. Yet that’s naughty too.
“Some white people may stick with the yellow emoji because they don’t want to assert their privilege by adding a light-skinned emoji to a text, or to take advantage of something that was created to represent diversity.
“[T]here was a default in society to associate whiteness with being raceless, and the emojis gave white people an option to make their race explicit.”
Just to be safe, I say white people should stop using all emojis at this moment. We cannot trust whites to send emojis in a way that won’t both express their white privilege as well as hide it. Based on NPR’s research, it’s probably racist no matter which emoji white people use.
In short, yellow emojis were made for the Simpsons, but white folks went and appropriated those too. Damn them.