Skip to navigationSkip to content

Asians are not impressed with Apple’s “diverse” yellow emoji

Apple has a lot of expectant fans in China.
Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Apple’s new Mac OS X Yosemite operating system will offer emoji faces in six skin tones in a push for added diversity—including yellow-toned ones that the company intended to be ethnically neutral. But in China, a region Apple has declared one of its most important markets, iPhone and potential iPhone users were not impressed.


Images of the new emoji lineup, which included a range of national flags as well as faces, circulated on China’s largest microblog, Weibo. Some bloggers praised the new selection, especially since previous Apple emoji depicting humans had only come in a single shade: white. But more users found the yellow toned emoji mildly offensive (there is a long racist history of using “yellow” to describe Asians) or just inaccurate.

One user wrote (registration required), “It looks like the yellow people have jaundice.” Another said, “Are yellow people really that yellow?”Another wrote, “What’s the point of these?

Twitter users from elsewhere were equally dismissive:

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.