CNN sparks controversy after publishing column saying white people’s posting of memes of black people is ‘digital blackface’
- Writer John Blake said white people using memes of black people was racist
- He argued that the practice was equivalent to modern minstrel shows
- Many said he misinterpreted a commonly accepted definition of the term, which they believed referred to white people posing as black online, in order to perpetuate ideas.
A CNN writer has sparked controversy after claiming that white people who post humorous memes with black people in them are participating in “digital blackface.”
Writer John Blake published an article title “What is ‘digital blackface?’ And why is it wrong for white people to use it?’ on Sunday, and argued that when white memes post in which black people exhibit exaggerated behavior, they are in fact making racist jokes about them.
Blake wrote that digital blackface involved “white people pretending to be black,” calling back to a 2017 Teen Vogue in which writer Lauren Michele Jackson said that white people who used memes of black people reduced them to “walking exaggeration.”
In his article, Blake cited common memes, such as the newscast in which Oklahoma’s Sweet Brown declared “No one has time for that” when she recalled a fire in her apartment complex, or Tyra Banks yelling “We were all rooting.” for you!’ at an America’s Next Top Model contestant.
He wrote that white people using those memes were a modern day equivalent of racist minstrel shows. Blake’s opinion divided the internet, with some deriding it as ridiculous, and others agreeing.
John Blake’s CNN article, featuring a meme by Oklahoma woman Sweet Brown
CNN writer John Blake argued that white people using memes of black people was racist
Blake further quoted Jackson’s definition of digital blackface, saying that it “encompasses expressions of emotion stereotyped as excessive: so happy, so sassy, so ghetto, so loud…our dial is at 10 all the time – rarely do black people get characters subtle traits. or feelings.’
“Some may say that posting a video of Sweet Brown saying ‘Oh Lord Jesus, it’s a fire’ is just for laughs,” Blake wrote. ‘Why exaggerate? Why give people another excuse to call white people racists for the most innocuous of behaviors?’
He further argued that far from being harmful, such memes were “a modern repackaging of minstrel shows,” an old American form of entertainment in which white actors painted their faces black and portrayed caricatures of black people as silly and simple. people.
“Simply put, digital blackface is 21st century minstrels,” said Black.
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, slogan, or culture to convey comic relief or express emotion.”
Blake added that it was okay for black people to spread such images and expressions online, but it was racist for white people.
‘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,” he 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 like it was racist
Readers were divided by Blake’s article and took to Twitter to voice their opinions, some agreeing with the idea, but others suggesting that CNN was just writing about it to kick things off.
“I think CNN is writing this article specifically to spark a backlash from white conservatives,” one user wrote.
Others believed that Blake misidentified what digital blackface actually was and why it might be bad.
“I think the worst part is they’re not even right about what Digital Blackface actually is,” one user wrote. “It’s not about posting memes at all, it’s about pretending to be black online to agree to offensive, racist behavior. CNN looks like a straight clown here lol.’
“Digital Blackface has always been someone who pretends to be a black person online and specifically uses his Blackfishing to speak as a credible authority on black issues,” said another.