Home » There are levels to this ‘digital blackface’ discussion

There are levels to this ‘digital blackface’ discussion

by The Grio

(Adobe Stock Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Do you get upset when you see non-Black people using Black memes and gifs to express emotions on social media? What about Black emojis? 

Do you believe white people using Black memes and gifs is the same as Black people using memes and gifs that have white people in them? 

There are two decidedly different camps in this debate, and that became apparent Sunday when CNN ran a column by John Blake that analyzed and explained how the use of these memes and gifs by non-Black people can be the equivalent of “digital blackface”

Blake, who is Black, wrote: 

Maybe you shared that viral video of Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins telling a reporter after narrowly escaping an apartment fire, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Perhaps you posted that meme of supermodel Tyra Banks exploding in anger on “America’s Next Top Model” (“I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!”). Or maybe you’ve simply posted popular GIFs, such as the one of NBA great Michael Jordan crying, or of drag queen RuPaul declaring, “Guuuurl…”

If you’re Black and you’ve shared such images online, you get a pass. But if you’re White, you may have inadvertently perpetuated one of the most insidious forms of contemporary racism.

You may be wearing “digital blackface.”

Blake goes on to explain that digital blackface “is a practice where White people co-opt online expressions of Black imagery, slang, catchphrases or culture to convey comic relief or express emotions.” 

When the article hit Twitter, it began trending as people went back and forth debating the issue.

Actress Yvette Nicole Brown vehemently disagreed with Blake, saying, “*Sigh* Do better @cnn. Digital Blackface is not about memes. It’s what the poster below…

Read the full article here

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