CNN Writer Whites Using Black Memes Is 'Digital Blackface,' Stop It
3/26/2023 12:39 PM PT
A CNN writer has spurred a healthy debate about Internet culture, and has posed the question of whether it's okay for white people to use Black memes ... he says it isn't.
John Blake published a piece Sunday that's gotten a big reaction online. It's titled, "What’s ‘digital blackface?’ And why is it wrong when White people use it?" In the analysis article, he makes his argument -- namely, using these memes/GIFs is modern-day minstrel show fare.
For starters, he describes digital blackface this way ... "[It] involves White people play-acting at being Black," citing a Teen Vogue writer who defined it. He goes on to quote that author 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.'"
Blake continues to reference Teen Vogue in zeroing in further ... "[Digital blackface] 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."
Now for the haymaker from Blake, who says digital blackface is wrong and that it should be halted. The reason ... he says it's embedded in racist traditions of making fun of Black people -- and while Twitter users in 2023 might not necessarily see it that way from the outside looking in, that's certainly how it's being perceived by many ... intentionally or not.
There are countless Black memes that the Internet regularly recycles -- including some that feature famous people from TV shows and/or movies -- but there's one that Blake focuses on in particular as his Exhibit A ... namely, the 2012 Sweet Brown interview from Oklahoma.
Brown had just experienced a legitimate tragedy at the time -- she was dealing with an apartment fire -- and while her remarks were animated/memorable ... they were coming from a serious place of fear. And yet, the internet made a whole autotune song out of it -- seemingly discounting her real-life feelings and simply making a joke out of the whole thing.
Ditto for Antoine Dodson's TV news interview from years ago, where his family also had just gone through a truly terrifying encounter -- but his comments also went viral.
As you can imagine ... Twitter is having a field day with this. Some are calling Blake's take absolutely absurd, and just another "woke" request. Others, however, are saying he's right.