A CNN writer has sparked debate on Twitter after suggesting that white people who use Black memes and GIFs are guilty of “digital blackface.”
On Sunday (March 26), CNN analyst John Blake reignited conversation surrounding “digital blackface” with his article titled “What’s ‘digital blackface?’ And why is it wrong when White people use it?”
Citing Tyra Banks’ “We were all rooting for you!”; Michael Jordan’s crying face; Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins’ “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”; and more, Blake argued that using memes and GIFs of Black people is modern-day minstrelsy.
“If you’re Black and you’ve shared such images online, you get a pass,” Blake wrote in Sunday’s article. “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,'” he said.
Blake went on to describe digital blackface as “a practice where White people co-opt online expressions of Black imagery, slang, catchphrases or culture to convey comic relief or express emotions.”
“This guidance might help: If a White person shares an image online that perpetuates stereotypes of Black people as loud, dumb, hyperviolent or hypersexual, they’ve entered digital blackface territory,” Blake wrote.
In the article, Blake also referenced Teen Vogue writer Lauren Michele Jackson, who wrote her own piece on the issue in 2017.
“[It] involves White people play-acting at being Black,” Black wrote, citing Jackson’s piece. “[T]he Internet thrives on White people laughing at exaggerated displays of Blackness, reflecting a tendency among some to see ‘Black people as walking hyperbole.”
Blake concludes that digital blackface is wrong and should be stopped as the practice is embedded in racist traditions of making fun of Black people.
While some Twitter users agreed with Blake’s take, many believe the writer incorrectly defined the phenomena.
Check out their reactions below.
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