The time period has been rising within the information to explain conduct by White entertainers who seem like imitating the looks of Black folks. It isn’t a praise.

Here is a take a look at what Blackfishing is and why persons are doing it.

The time period got here to prominence in a Twitter thread two years in the past when journalist Wanna Thompson mentioned she seen White celebrities and influencers cosplaying as Black girls on social media.

“Blackfishing is when White public figures, influencers and the like do everything in their power to appear Black,” Thompson informed CNN this week. “Whether that means to tan their skin excessively in an attempt to achieve ambiguity, and wear hairstyles and clothing trends that have been pioneered by Black women.”

Critics have described it as a form of blackface, saying it creates a harmful paradox by celebrating Black magnificence and aesthetics — however solely when highlighted by White folks.

“Instead of appreciating Black culture from the sidelines, there’s this need to own it, to participate in it without wanting the full experience of Blackness and the systemic discrimination that comes with it,” Thompson mentioned.

Who’s been accused of it?

The newest Blackfishing headlines contain Azalea, the Australian hip hop star who’s been accused of appropriating Black tradition since her profession took off a decade in the past.

The sometimes blonde Azalea sports activities a darkish wig within the music video for her new single, “I Am the Strip Club.” Critics on social media famous that within the video her pores and skin seems darker than normal, however she dismissed it.
“I’m the same color as I always am, just in a dimly lit room with red lights,” she said. CNN has reached out to reps for Azalea for added remark.
Kim Kardashian can also be no stranger to such criticism. In 2017, earlier than the phrase Blackfishing was a factor, she channeled Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for a cover shoot that some mentioned made Kardashian look darker than normal.

Across the similar time critics additionally accused her of sporting blackface in a collection of adverts for her make-up line.

“I would obviously never want to offend anyone,” mentioned Kardashian, who’s of Armenian descent, of the photograph shoot. “I used an amazing photographer and a team of people. I was really tan when we shot the images, and it might be that the contrast was off.”

Kim Kardashian West slammed for Jackie Onassis photoshoot
Singer Ariana Grande, whose heritage is Italian, confronted an identical backlash in 2019 over a Vogue cover in which some said her pores and skin appeared darker.
And Bruno Mars has defended himself against allegations that he appropriates Black tradition in his music and look. In 2018, author and activist Seren Sensei said Mars “plays up his racial ambiguity to cross genres.”

Mars, who was born to a Filipino mom and a half-Puerto Rican, half-Jewish father, responded that “You can’t find an interview where I haven’t talked about the entertainers who have come before me. The only reason I ‘m here is because of James Brown, Prince, Michael.”

Why do folks do it?

When entertainers or social media influencers seem like blended race or racially ambiguous it may possibly create advertising and marketing alternatives for them as a result of they’re thought-about trendy and unique, specialists say.

Some individuals who participate in Blackfishing really feel entitled to Black tradition and use it for social foreign money and financial acquire, Thompson mentioned.

Nevertheless it works to the detriment of Black folks, who is probably not seen the identical manner with related pure options.

Ariana Grande at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on January 26, 2020, in Los Angeles.

Leslie Bow, a professor of Asian American research on the College of Wisconsin, describes Blackfishing as “a racial masquerade that operates as a form of racial fetishism.”

Bow mentioned there is a particular energy dynamic in American society that suggests points of racial tradition should be validated by these with standing for them to be thought-about constructive or worthwhile.

“They might think that it operates as an homage because it appears to honor Black style. In this case, they graft off of what academics have called the esthétique du cool that attends Black culture,” Bow mentioned in an e-mail.

“In reality, Blackfishing situates that style as a commodity. It has the effect of reducing a people with a specific history to a series of appropriable traits or objects,” she added. “Blackfishing is one form of racist love, how we appropriate otherness.”

How does it differ from cultural appropriation?

Blackfishing and cultural appropriation are all interconnected — you can’t have one with out the opposite, Thompson mentioned.

Cultural appropriation, in keeping with the Cambridge Dictionary, is “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.”

For instance, quite a few White celebrities have been criticized for sporting their hair in field braids or dreadlocks — kinds historically worn by Black folks.
Bruno Mars defends himself against cultural appropriation allegations

Author and speaker Feminista Jones has described cultural appropriation as when folks with energy and privilege take customs and traditions that oppressed folks have lengthy been marginalized for and repurpose them as a sizzling new factor.

“People have no respect for Black culture — they think it’s up for grabs and will take and participate in it and exploit it because it has been commodified,” Thompson mentioned. “We see this on each social app, however extra more and more on TikTok

However when folks change their look with make-up, beauty surgical procedure or digital enhancing to look Black, it goes a step additional than cultural appropriation. It is Blackfishing.


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