LISTEN: The Fight to Bring An Afro Emoji to Your Phone

By Tiarra Mukherjee Apr 02, 2019

There are 230 new emojis set to debut this year, including a flamingo and a waffle, according to Emojipedia. But writer Rhianna Jones says that list is missing a key image: a person with an Afro.

Jones told NPR on April 1 that she submitted a request for an Afro emoji to the Unicode Consortium, a group of executives from tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Google, that meets twice a year to discuss and approve new emojis.

Jones teamed up with designer Kerrilyn Gibson to create a prototype and started a petition on—which has garnered close to 27,000 signatures so far—to get Afro emojis of different hair colors and skin tones included on the emoji keyboad in 2020.

“I think an Afro should be included because there’s an entire community of people—Black, Afro-Latinx diasporic…the Jewfro—there’s just a lot of people that have hair that grows upward and spherically and defies gravity," Jones told NPR. "There’s been a big dearth and lack of representation of natural hair and Afro hair in the media. I think the lack of Afro hair in our keyboards is a subtle but constant reminder of that."

Both Jones and Gibson have Afros, and they nicknamed the emoji "Frolange," after Solange Knowles. Jones told NPR that she was inspired to create the emoji when she realized that instead of writing "insert Afro emoji here," in her messages, she could submit to have an actual Afro emoji created.

Listen to the full interview here.