People are calling out Twitter for its inaccurate emoji celebrating the first day of Kwanzaa

People are calling out Twitter for its inaccurate emoji celebrating the first day of Kwanzaa

David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images


People are calling out Twitter for the inaccurate emoji it created to celebrate Kwanzaa.

Thursday, December 26, was the first day of Kwanzaa, a seven-day secular festival to celebrate African-Americans' roots and heritage. The celebration has been around for more than 50 years, but it's nonetheless often overlooked in favor of big-name winter holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah.

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To celebrate the first day of Kwanzaa, Twitter added an emoji to the hashtag #Kwanzaa that appears any time someone uses it on the platform during the festival. Custom emoji - called "hashflags" - are often added to the end of certain hashtags for a limited time, either by Twitter or brands, to celebrate an event or festivity.

This year, Twitter's Kwanzaa emoji is a five-pronged candleholder. Except there's a problem: the traditional Kwanzaa candelabra, called a "kinara," traditionally consists of seven candles, one for each principle that's celebrated. Additionally, the candles are placed in a specific color order to symbolize the colors of the Pan-African flag, used to represent African freedom and unity: three red candles on the left, one black candle in the center, and three green candles on the right.


Users on Twitter were quick to point out the error in Twitter's emoji.

Twitter has not revised the Kwanzaa emoji, and did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

Twitter, like many tech companies, has had issues with representation and diversity in its nearly 14-year history. Ev Williams - who cofounded Twitter alongside three other white men - said earlier this year that the company would have prioritized and addressed abuse on the platform earlier if its team was more diverse. Abuse of some users on Twitter, especially people of color, has long been a major issue on the platform. A 2018 Amnesty International study found that black women were more likely to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets than any other demographic.

Today, Twitter's employees are still not representative of the platform's user base. While 11% of Twitter's US adult users are black, and Twitter has shown to be particularly popular among younger African Americans, Twitter reported in November 2019 that 5.7% of its employees are black.

However, Twitter isn't the only platform to be lacking when it comes to representation of Kwanzaa. Although Apple has at least three emoji to represent Christmas and one emoji to commemorate Hanukkah, there's no obvious emoji to celebrate Kwanzaa.


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