"Blackfishing"

Still in 2020, the black community is faced with the same type of racism from the 18th and 19th century. It sounds unrealistic when you say it but issues like “blackfishing” prove how real racism is. “Blackfishing,” a modern term for blackface, is when someone who is non-black mimics stereotypical attributes connected to black culture, i.e. skin tone, hair, clothing, and even through voices and dialect. This form of discrimination has been prevalent since the 1850’s when white actors like Billy Van and Dan Bryant performed shows in brown/black makeup and acted in the negative light in which black people were portrayed. 

 

The term blackfishing is a combination of “black face” and “catfishing.” Most of us are aware that catfishing is acting as though you are someone else online on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. As we approach a world of digital media, blackfishing has reared its ugly head and is slowly becoming a major issue yet again within the black community. We see it everyday throughout the internet and social media, where people who are very obviously not black have tans that make them much darker, wear braids and locs, or talk in AAVE (African American Vernacular English) and add a quote on quote “blaccent” to their voices. Almost every single day on twitter, I see outrage from videos and/or photos of people blackfishing and the harsh reality of racism kicks in. Black culture is heavily abused by those who do not partake in it. It’s looked down upon, but it's also the most copied and fetishized. Rachel Dolezal is well-known for blackfishing, as she was a president of an NAACP chapter and passed as a black woman even though she was in fact a white woman with no African ancestry. There are many women who in 2012 looked like themselves, then by this year have dark skin, bigger lips, and braids in their hair. If you didn’t know any better, you could actually mistake them for black women rather than white or hispanic women. That itself is a major problem. Even non-black men participate in blackfishing, as they dress up or carry themselves like the stereotypical black man. Rappers like Lil Pump and 6ix9ine are an example of non-black men who attempt to blackfish. Both of them wear locs, use the n-word, etc. 

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Another form of blackfishing is through people simply attempting to gain “clout” by mimicking black people as a joke or means of entertainment. There are viral videos on apps like Tik-Tok of non-blacks call themselves the “ghetto black girl in school,” or anything of that nature. These types of videos continue to grow more and more popular as people continue to find this particular content funny. However, when watching, it actually makes you cringe. Not only is it disrespectful because it is a form of discrimination and racism against the black community, but it’s also just embarassing to see someone force themselves to “act black” when it’s not even an accurate depiction of black people in the slightest. Overtime you would think problems such as these would no longer exist, however, history only seems to repeat itself.

Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash