Chill, People — It’s an Emoji, Not a White Hood

Stop seeing racism where it doesn't exist, like in a tweet from Clorox. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Before you write in blasting me and Diversity Executive for insensitivity, I want you to know I chose that title deliberately. The point? Don’t overreact. Some things deserve your time and angst — Clorox’s April 9th tweet is not one of them.

I saw the news when it came out, and I was planning to ignore it — but just today someone brought it to my attention, again. So I’m going on record saying, chill people. Not everything is race related.

When I first read the tweet: “New emojis are alright but where’s the bleach,” I didn’t even get the racially motivated furor. I thought, oh, they want a little bottle of bleach. And why not? They seem to have an emoji for everything else. Someone had to explain to me that the upset was related to Apple’s new emojis.

It was only after some discussion I realized people thought Clorox wanted to bleach the skin color of Apple’s new emojis. I scoffed, like, really? But yeah, really. This inadvertent snafu has made national news.

But I want to caution people against two things. One, racism is quite prominent but much of its unconscious, meaning it’s so underground that perpetrators may not actually realize what they’re saying or doing is wrong. So try not to overreact; it almost always does more harm than good. 

You’ve probably heard of this thing called diversity fatigue? It comes on when people are constantly inundated with criticism or negativity stemming from discussions around race, ethnicity, gender and other dimensions of diversity. As a result, they shut down and any learning and growth shuts down with them, handicapping efforts to promote inclusion.

I’m not saying don’t talk about things for fear of making other people tired. Far from it; I’m just saying pick your battles.

This should not have blown up like this. It didn’t even make sense to equate the Clorox bleach tweet with a desire to have a white emoji because there was already a white emoji! The issue was there were no brown, black and tan ones.

Two, tone down the attacks. Geez. Sometimes people’s reactions to things come across like mob violence for the Internet. I understand you want to right a wrong, but sometimes the best way to do that is to take it easy and come at things in a reasoned, measured fashion. In a situation like this, more people should have fallen back on humor to diffuse the situation. That would have been a more appropriate response.

In hindsight, it may have been an ill-advised tweet for Clorox to make, but seeing racism behind every little snafu is a bit extreme. Not that we should ignore the little things; that’s equally ill-advised as they inevitably lead to big things. But let’s save our energy and passion for a more appropriate battle.  There are many, and yes, what those battles are is a matter of opinion. But I think I can safely say, a harmless gripe about a lack of bleach bottle-shaped emojis is not worth calling in Operation Push.