CNN Writer Says White People Are Guilty Of ‘Digital Blackface’

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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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.”

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.”

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.

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Nicole Silverio

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