Arabs are represented by more than 300 million people around the planet and right now the common image of this large group is not good. They are often represented as “extremists,” “terrorists,” “uncivilized,” excessively traditional or religious. This contributes to a higher incident rate of violence against people of Arab descent than those of many other ethnicities.     One way to combat the Arabophobia that many Arabs face daily is to show solidarity with them and other under- and misrepresented people across the globe by fairly and equally representing them on the internet.
GIFs still have a long way to go when it comes to equal representation and Arabs are not the only underrepresented group on the internet. It is time to recognize that we all hold responsibility for ensuring that GIFs become more progressive. We have emojis for same sex couples, families, other cultures and colors, and even Hijab emojis now. Where are the GIFs that reflect the same diversity?
For those who don’t know, these websites are search engines and hosting platforms for GIFs, a lossless format for image files that supports both animated and static images. Now, more than ever, we need to voice our support. Mobile communication is becoming more visual with 71% of smartphone users saying they use emojis, stickers or GIFs when texting or using messaging apps, according to a survey by Nielsen's Harris Poll. It may seem like a small step but the enthusiastic acceptance of LGBT+ and Hijab emojis shows the demand for equal representation that needs to extend to the world of GIFs.
It makes me feel uncomfortable that we don’t see much positive Arab representation in the media. And also that Arabs are not properly represented when it comes to GIFs. And there is not an inclusive environment in general when it comes to GIF search engines.
My grand vision is to create a project that is easy for others to reproduce, and to reach thousands of people to help change all these stereotypes of Arab people.
More about this dowe
You can contribute to this dowe by:
- Signing the the Change.org petition. This petition aims to get GIPHY and Tenor to address their platforms’ representation biases. It is a letter and when it receives 10,000 signatures, we will deliver it to their respective CEOs.
- Submitting GIFs of yourself in different situations, on Tenor.com or Giphy.com, or share them on social media with the hashtag #arabify.