How to make black people delete your app

dex digital
May 15, 2017 · 5 min read

I’m pretty interested in audio. I had a podcast from 2005–2013, I’ve been a radio or club DJ for half my life, and nowadays I occasionally put stuff out on Bumpers.

So when I found an app called Anchor, I was pretty excited. Basically, it lets anyone broadcast and make audio podcasts, including inserting audio clips/music. Everyone seems to love this thing.

So I downloaded it and started exploring. One of the first things that really stood out to me was this feature where, instead of a ‘Like’, you can hit an ‘applause’ button while your content plays.

It’s time-synced, and seems to function as instant feedback to the creator (and to other people listening to it along with you — think of it as a laugh track in a sitcom, which makes you feel like you’re viewing as part of a communal audience). It’s really fascinating, and a great idea.

But, take alook at the applause button again. It’s the ‘clap’ emoji. Notice the color. It’s default yellow, like this: 👏

You can’t change it. 🙅🏾‍

If you’re not aware, colored people tend to change their emojis to match their actual flesh tone. Mine, for example, would be 👏🏾, because in real life, I look like this.

So, who uses yellow? Well, some casual polling suggests that white people are generally fine with the default yellow emoji:

But not me. Being forced to use an emoji that signals ~white person who views themselves as ‘Default~ to me is not fun.

And for that reason, I’m deleting the app. 🚮

Not out of spite, but because I just lost interest at that point. The app ceased to speak to me. This seems nitpicky, but if you understand UX/UI at all, UX/UI as a field is nothing if not understanding the little things that irk users.

It wouldn’t be hard to allow you to customize the default color of your ‘clap’ emoji. I mean, the app lets you customize your avatar, insert a URL, and customize the color of your background, which is pretty damn superfluous.

Who knows, maybe the option is in here somewhere. But I can’t find it, which again takes me back to UI/UX: if I can’t easily find something as important as this, there’s a problem.

And hell, adding data about what emoji people are using would be an interesting metric. As an audio creator, I’d love to know what kinds of emoji-identifying people are using on my stuff.

Who cares about a damn 👏?

Boo-hoo, right? Anchor lost one weirdo listener/potential creator.

Well, dig this. Anchor is targeting indie podcasters. And what’s one of the most important growth areas there? Black podcasters. If Buzzfeed was noticing this two years ago, then it’s probably a thing.

And yes, trust me. There’s some black podcasters, and definitely listeners, who would be a little turned off by having to use Simpsons yellow. And that’s just black people – there’s plenty of other not-white people making independent audio right now.

So I started wondering why this kind of oversight might have been made, and went to the ‘about’ section of the Anchors site, and, well, I’ll just leave a screenshot here.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to be colored to figure this stuff out. This kind of oversight could be fixed by marketing research (e.g.: this).

But if you have dark people on staff, they don’t have to do that research. More than likely, they just know. It often comes easy to us. You could say that we have years of on-the-job training, if you will.

This isn’t to bash the people making Anchor, or even Anchor as a service. In fact, I’m pretty sure they could fix this in their next update. I also don’t want to single them out too much, because other tech companies are making similar cultural mistakes in their marketing. It’s just a particularly visual example.

But what if I don’t want to hire colored people?🙅🏾‍

As a summary, my argument is that you should give colored people your money because they can fix things you aren’t able to see yourself.

But there is a way around this, if making an effort to hire colored people makes you too nervous or feels like ‘reverse racism’ or you would rather talk about how hard it is to find qualified people and oh man the real issue is the ~pipeline~ anyway and what about just people who think differently isn’t it just about diversity of thought and by the way my mom is Irish:

…okay yeah dude, just hire a colored consultant.

It’s not the moral way to do it, and it’s not really sustainable, but whatever, it’s a ‘hack’, which sounds nice, right? Call it the MVP approach to diversity. Whatever.

If you need help with this, feel free to DM me. I’ve got binders full of talented coloreds.

I’m on Twitter @dexdigi.

dex digital

Written by

. scholar slash baller . @dexdigi . .

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