CNN analyst John Blake suggested that white people posting pictures or viral videos of black people are guilty of “digital blackface” in a Sunday article.
Blake claimed that white people posting gifs or memes featuring black people are guilty of racism. He also used the term “digital blackface” to refer to white people using “black imagery, slang and catchphrases” online.
“If you’re Black and you’ve shared such images online, you get a pass,” Blake wrote. “But if you’re White, you may have inadvertently perpetuated one of the most insidious forms of contemporary racism. You may be wearing ‘digital blackface.’ Digital blackface is a practice where White people co-opt online expressions of Black imagery, slang, catchphrases or culture to convey comic relief or express emotions.”
“If you’re White and you’ve posted a GIF or meme of a Black person to express a strong emotion, you may be guilty of wearing ‘digital blackface,'” writes John Blake | Analysis https://t.co/KlHkWWHq6x
— CNN (@CNN) March 26, 2023
He wrote that “digital blackface” is a modern form of “minstrel shows,” a racist theatrical tradition popular in the 19th century in which white actors would darken their faces with paint and portray black people in a mocking, stereotypical manner.
Blake’s piece received widespread criticism from notable social media figures. (RELATED: CNN Guest: ‘Yes, All Trump Supporters Are Racist)
“I’d love to hear an explanation of how posting a gif or meme of a black person online is digital blackface, but a man dressing up like a woman in real life is heroic,” OutKick founder Clay Travis wrote. “Please explain @cnn.”
I’d love to hear an explanation of how posting a gif or meme of a black person online is digital blackface, but a man dressing up like a woman in real life is heroic. Please explain @cnn. pic.twitter.com/fPYXF5ogDC
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) March 26, 2023
Do better @cnn. Digital Blackface is not about memes. It’s what the poster below describes.
It’s insidious. It’s pretending to be black online so folks think a black person is co-signing some racist BS.
It’s the online only version of what Candace Owens does daily. https://t.co/KWhmM2Do7R
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) March 26, 2023
This CNN article is ridiculous. lol “Digital blackface” is when a white person makes a fake account pretending to be black typically pushing racist garbage or the “I’m black and approve of this message bullshit” But that has NOTHING to do with posting a MEME. This is insane! LOL https://t.co/HgvXbkUyWl
— Immortal Technique (@ImmortalTech) March 26, 2023
CNN is proudly wearing digital blackface today…. https://t.co/pGEd8f4LDQ
— Luke Rudkowski (@Lukewearechange) March 26, 2023
When the demand for racism radically outstrips the supply https://t.co/CnnB3KfDDv
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 26, 2023
As examples, Blake cited a viral 2012 video of Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins describing her escape from an apartment fire with the phrase “ain’t nobody got time for that.”
“Is Sweet Brown the victim of digital blackface?” Blake asked. “Or did she benefit from the exposure? It’s a tough question. But in the meantime, if you are a White person who is contemplating using a “hold my wig” GIF, you should consider the advice [author Lauren Michele] Jackson offers in her Teen Vogue essay to White people who playact being Black online,” he wrote.