*Talk about getting a lot of attention and rightfully so. We’re referring to an essay by a CNN writer/producer by the name of John Blake whose Sunday (03-26-23) piece titled “What’s ‘digital blackface?’ And why is it wrong when White people use it?”
Needless to say, that title and the piece itself raised a lot of eyebrows because it essentially suggests that when white people use Black memes, it may be viewed as “digital blackface.”
If you just can’t figure out what he’s referring to specifically as digital blackface, Blake says, “[It] involves White people play-acting at being Black,” citing Lauren Michele Jackson, a Teen Vogue writer who defined it. He goes on to quote Jackson as saying, “[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.’”
JBlake continues to reference Jackson’s Teen Vogue article when he writes: “[It] includes displays of emotion stereotyped as excessive: so happy, so sassy, so ghetto, so loud… our dial is on 10 all the time — rarely are Black characters afforded subtle traits or feelings.”
It continues: “We are your sass, your nonchalance, your fury, your delight, your annoyance, your happy dance, your diva, your shade, your ‘yaas’ moments. The weight of reaction GIFing, period, rests on our shoulders.”
If you still don’t get where John Blake is coming from, here are a few “racialized reactions,” aka viral memes of Black celebrities and non-celebrity personalities.
(1) Tyra Banks screaming in anger on ‘America’s Next Top Model,’ “I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!;” (2) Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins telling a reporter, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!,” as she escaped an apartment fire; (3) Michael Jordan’s crying face; and (4) RuPaul dragging on, “Gurrrrl.”
Blake says “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.”
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