A CNN contributor has sparked an interesting discussion on Internet culture by asking if white people can use Black internet memes, and then arguing that they can’t.
On Sunday, John Blake released an article that quickly gained attention in the digital sphere. What is “digital blackface?” it asks. When White people use it, why is that wrong? He argues that the use of these memes and GIFs is nothing more than contemporary versions of minstrel show routines in the analysis piece.
To begin, he gives an explanation of what he means by “digital blackface. According to a Teen Vogue writer, “[it] involves White people play-acting as being Black.” The author is then quoted as saying, and he paraphrases: “[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’s continued use of Teen Vogue as a point of focus… “[Digital blackface] features exaggerated expressions of emotion, such as “so cheerful,” “so sassy,” “so ghetto,” and “so loud.” Our volume is always turned up to 11; black characters almost never get nuanced personalities or emotions.
Blake throws a haymaker now, saying that we should stop using digital blackface immediately. The reason, he adds, is because it’s rooted in racist practices of poking fun at African Americans, and while Twitter users in 2023 might not realize this at first glance, it’s clear that many do.
Blake chooses the 2012 Sweet Brown interview from Oklahoma as his Exhibit A, while there are many Black memes that are constantly recycled online (including some that incorporate famous persons from TV series and/or movies).
Ads for the 911 Inline While HULU Brown’s comments were certainly memorable and energetic, they were not made out of a lighthearted place. She had recently survived a real tragedy, and was dealing with the aftermath of an apartment fire. The internet, however, turned it into an autotune song, appearing unconcerned with her genuine emotions and treating the whole affair as a joke.
Antoine Dodson’s TV news appearance from years ago, in which he and his family had also recently experienced a very scary incident, went viral for very similar reasons.
You can bet that this is getting a lot of attention on Twitter. Some people think Blake’s viewpoint is completely ridiculous and nothing more than a “woke” demand. However, there are many who believe he is correct.
#JohnBlake #CNN #DigitalBlackface #BlackFace #WhitePeople #Memes #BlackMemes #AntoineDodson
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