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更新时间:2017-5-27 11:07:42 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

New Emoji is a Meaningful Symbol for Indigenous Australians

SYDNEY, Australia — Hundreds of Australian Aboriginal leaders gathered on Friday at Uluru, a massive sandstone monolith in Australia’s central desert, to call for constitutional recognition of their people. Around the same time, a new emoji was quietly added to Twitter: the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.


The emoji showing both flags together amounts to a small (very small) action, but for the group of people it stands for, the digital recognition carries deep significance.


“Emojis are huge,” said Luke Pearson, a digital producer of the Indigenous radio unit of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “We use them all day, every day, on so many different platforms. They aren’t entirely insignificant, because they’ve become such a core part of our communications.”

“表情符太重要了,”澳大利亚广播公司原住民广播部的数码产品制作人卢克·皮尔逊(Luke Pearson)说。“我们整天、每天都在用表情符,在那么多的不同平台上使用它们。它们并非完全微不足道,因为它们已成为我们交流方式的一个核心部分。”

The new emoji arrived the same week Australia is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the vote to include its indigenous people in the national census. In a week that includes National Sorry Day and the anniversary of the landmark Mabo case, which dealt with indigenous land rights, the flags amount to a form of recognition that can be easily shared; they become available on Twitter when users include certain hashtags, such as #IndigenousAU, #ReconciliationWeek, or #1967Referendum.


But as Australia’s indigenous peoples still struggle to overcome more than 200 years of colonization, with a population that is grossly overrepresented in prisons, and that has drastically poorer health and a lower life expectancy than the rest of Australia, does an emoji even matter?


Other issues seem much more important; the leaders who gathered in Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, are fighting for an Aboriginal representative body to be enshrined in the Constitution, for example.


But representation in all forms is important for indigenous Australians, who have been pressing their case on many federal, state and local fronts for decades.


Dr. Bronwyn Carlson, an associate professor of indigenous studies at the University of Wollongong, in New South Wales, says the inclusion of the flags is a significant move by Twitter.

在新南威尔士州卧龙岗大学从事原住民研究的副教授布朗温·卡尔逊(Bronwyn Carlson)博士表示,把旗帜添加到表情符中是Twitter迈出的重要一步。

“It means this corporate giant is taking notice of a small population of people, and also acknowledging that these people have something to say,” she said.


Social media, particularly Twitter, is a democratic and accessible space for indigenous Australians. For those who are fighting for broader recognition, it’s a way to sidestep gatekeepers who may not respect or amplify their voices.


“Mainstream media generally ignores us,” said Dr. Carlson, an indigenous Australian. “But with Twitter, we have our own space, where we can continually raise our own stories and particularly talk about things that are important to us,” she said.


Mr. Pearson, who is also an indigenous Australian, and who set up IndigenousX, a Twitter account with rotating indigenous hosts, compares the flag icon to the recent addition of skin tones for some emoji.


“I think this is comparable, in the same way that all those flags are there for people to show pride in their flags,” he said, “and there wasn’t one for us.”


Twitter has been aware of calls for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag emoji for years, but adding one little emoji is trickier than it might seem.


Harold Thomas, the indigenous activist who created the Aboriginal flag in 1971, still holds the copyright to the design. Mr. Thomas ended up in a dispute with Google in 2010 when he refused to allow the technology company to reproduce the flag on its home page.

澳洲原住民旗是原住民活动家哈罗德·托马斯(Harold Thomas)1971年设计的,他对设计仍拥有版权。2010年,托马斯因拒绝让谷歌在其主页上使用旗帜的副本,与这家技术公司发生了争执。

After months of back and forth with Twitter, Mr. Thomas granted the social media company permission to create the emoji, in time for the anniversary of the referendum.


In an interview, Mr. Thomas said the flag expressed both the future of the Aboriginal people and their past, which goes back more than 40,000 years.


“The Aboriginal flag is central to our national identity,” Mr. Thomas said. “We are the first people here, for a very long time, and we’ll stay here until eternity.”