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Debate: Are Emoji Skin Tones Helpful?

Deciding which thumbs up emoji to add to a post may sound trivial, but for many people the dilemma carries with it larger questions about racial identity, awareness, and even politics. Using an emoji demands that people make their race explicit – and with that comes difficult choices. For a person who identifies as Black but is seen by others as white, which emoji should be used? What does it mean when a white person uses the bright yellow emoji versus a more realistic light-skinned color? Listen to hear emoji-users and a social media researcher discuss the racial politics of emojis and then debate: Are emoji skin tones useful?


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Story Length: 5:19

Listen to the Story:

Listening Comprehension Questions

  • What was one of Malala Yousafzai’s first experiences with the dangers of religious extremism?
  • After miraculously surviving her attack, what has Malala focused her work on?
  • What is the message that Malala is trying to send to those in power?
  • What does Malala want to do in the future?
  • What are the goals of Malala’s mission to support girls?

Discussion Themes

  • What is your opinion on Malala’s message about the power of education?
  • Why do you think that ISIS might want to silence people like Malala?

Socrative users can import these questions using the following code: SOC-1234