CNN sparks controversy over a column telling white people they can’t do ‘digital blackface’ by posting humorous memes featuring black people on
- Writer John Blake said that white people using memes of black people were racist
- He argued that the practice was equivalent to today’s minstrel shows.
- Many said he was misinterpreting a common definition of the term, which they said referred to white people posing as black online to perpetuate ideas.
A CNN writer sparked controversy after claiming that white people who post humorous memes with black people in them are engaging in ‘digital blackface’.
Writer John Blake published an article titled ‘What is ‘digital blackface?’ And why is it wrong when white people use it? on Sunday, arguing that when white people post memes showing black people exhibiting exaggerated behavior, they are actually making racist jokes about them.
Blake wrote that digital blackface involved “white people acting like they’re black,” and recalled a 2017 Teen Vogue in which writer Lauren Michele Jackson said white people using black people memes reduced them to “walking hyperbole.” ‘.
In his article, Blake cited widely used memes, such as the newsreel in which Oklahoma woman Sweet Brown declared ‘No one has time for that’ when recalling a fire at her apartment complex, or Tyra Banks yelling ‘We were all rooting for for you!’ into a contestant on America’s Next Top Model.
He wrote that white people using those memes were a modern equivalent of racist minstrel shows. Blake’s opinion divided the internet, with some ridiculing him and others agreeing with him.
John Blake’s CNN article, featuring a meme of the Oklahoma woman Sweet Brown
CNN writer John Blake argued that white people using memes of black people were racist.
Blake further cited Jackson’s definition of digital blackface, who said that it “includes displays of emotions stereotyped as excessive: so happy, so sassy, so ghetto, so loud…or feelings.”
“Some may say that posting a video of Sweet Brown saying, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a fire’ is just for laughs,” Blake wrote. ‘Why think too much? Why give people yet another excuse to label white people racists for the most innocuous behavior?’
He went on to argue that such memes were far from harmful and were “a modern remake of minstrel shows”, an old American form of entertainment in which white actors painted their faces black and portrayed caricatures of black people as stupid. and simple. people.
“Simply put: digital blackface is 21st century minstrelsy,” Black said.
In addition to using memes of black people, Blake wrote that “digital blackface is a practice in which white people co-opt online expressions of black imagery, slang, slogans, or culture to convey comic relief or express emotion.”
Blake added that it was okay for blacks to circulate such images and expressions online, but for whites it was racist.
“If you’re black and you’ve shared those images online, you get a pass. But if you are white, you may have inadvertently perpetuated one of the most insidious forms of contemporary racism,” she wrote.
A common meme made from a 2010 interview with Kevin Antoine Dodson
A popular meme made from a photo of Dieunerst Collin. Blake wrote memes as if he was racist
Readers were divided by Blake’s article and took to Twitter to express their views, with some agreeing with the idea, but others suggesting that CNN was writing about it simply to stir things up.
“I think CNN is writing this article specifically to provoke a backlash from white conservatives,” one user wrote.
Others felt that Blake had misidentified what exactly digital blackface was, and why it might be bad.
“I think the worst part is that they’re not even right about what Digital Blackface is,” wrote one user. “This is not about posting memes at all, this is about pretending to be black online to go along with offensive and racist behavior. CNN seems like a straight clown here lol.’
“Digital Blackface has always been someone who pretends to be a Black person online and specifically uses their Blackfishing to speak as a credible authority on Black issues,” said another.