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    These Two Women Are Petitioning For Afro Emojis In 2020, Because Not Everyone Has Straight Hair That Grows Down, Myself Included

    "For many people in Black, Afro-Latinx, and diasporic communities, our hair and our cultures are visually unrepresented in these digital conversations."

    Meet 28-year-old writer Rhianna Jones (left) and 25-year-old graphic designer Kerrilyn Gibson (right). I'll give you a few minutes to fully appreciate their absolutely gorgeous heads of hair.......OK, cool, let's continue.

    Rhianna Jones/Kerrilyn Gibson

    The NYC-based creatives designed a set of emojis with Afro-textured hair earlier this month and have since launched a petition to bring those "Afromojis" to our Unicode keyboards.

    Rhianna Jones/Kerrilyn Gibson / Via youtube.com

    Consider this: In 2018, Apple announced that the Unicode Consortium — aka the official emoji gatekeepers — had approved and published "even more hair options to better represent people with red hair, gray hair, and curly hair [as well as] a new emoji for bald people." However, Afro-textured hair, which spirals up and out, as opposed to hanging down, was not included in that update.

    "In a society that connects largely in digital spaces, emojis are a direct reflection of the culture and world we live in," Rhianna told BuzzFeed. "However, for many people in Black, Afro-Latinx, and diasporic communities, our hair and our cultures are visually unrepresented in these digital conversations."

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    "It may seem trivial to some, but the addition of Afromojis would be a small step towards diversifying those conversations and making a more inclusive digital experience for all users," she added.

    So far, 3,750+ people have signed the petition, bringing Rihanna and Kerrilyn that much closer to their goal of 5000 signatures.

    Rhianna Jones/Kerrilyn Gibson

    "This proves that emojis have a larger impact on people's day-to-day lives than many people might expect," Kerrilyn said. "People want to be able to see themselves represented in their digital and online footprint."

    Inspired by Tinder's successful campaign for interracial relationship emojis (also launched on Change.org) and Apple's push for disability emojis, Rhianna and Kerrilyn have spent the past two weeks juggling their day jobs while navigating a complex proposal process that typically involves entire tech and marketing teams.

    Rhianna Jones/Kerrilyn Gibson

    They'll be submitting their official proposal on March 31, 2019 for potential acceptance in Unicode's 2020 selection. "The proposal process is quite straight forward, what's intimidating is the technical jargon surrounding it," Rhianna explained. "You submit your design with a short abstract detailing why your proposal should be selected amongst countless others and a lot of analytics, including tangible evidence that people are searching for Afro hair images and the corresponding geographical data. I just hope Unicode hears our voices and sees merit in our stories."

    In addition to getting Afromojis approved by the Unicode Consortium and published in keyboards worldwide, the two creatives also hope their campaign sparks a larger conversation about the lack of natural hair representation in the media worldwide.

    Rhianna Jones/Kerrilyn Gibson

    Between school teachers historically penalizing black students for wearing Afros, braids, and locs and New York City recently banning hair discrimination from employers, schools, and housing providers, natural hair continues to symbolize larger, systemic issues of race, politics, and power worldwide.

    "I want these kids growing up on screens to be able to see themselves in ways I couldn't," Rhianna told BuzzFeed. "Our conversations should be reflective of the culturally inclusive times we're living in today, both online and in real life."

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