My thoughts on blackfishing

Last year, I was in the car with my mom and heard radio anchors talking about two white social media influencers. These influencers on Instagram outraged people for manipulating makeup/tanners to look like black women. One of the women caught in this scandal at the time this news broke was Swedish influencer Emma Hallberg.

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According to a Buzzfeed article, Hallberg says, “I get a deep tan naturally from the sun,” and she doesn’t see herself as anything other than white.While Polish influencer Alicqa Brzostowska says that her skin is naturally “not pale,” but she admits to making her skin a bit darker.

Although both women have come forward basically saying that they understand the uproar they have been receiving, they said they were not intentionally trying to stir up any controversy and some people still questioning their actions. There have also been other white women accused of the same controversy prompting some angered people to send negative messages and death threats to their social media accounts. 

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What all of them have been accused of is a new term called blackfishing. Blackfishing is when a person of white descent uses makeup or spray tans their body to appear black, African, or biracial to gain attention on social media.

Some people have compared this term to blackface since they both deal with a non-black person changing their facial features to resemble a black person.

Unlike blackface, however, I think the people who have done this are not doing it to offend anyone. It more so has to do with them wanting more followers and likes and reposts on their photos because it’s what’s trending right now, which I find problematic.

Instagram influencers are not the only people accused of this so-called “new trend.” Some celebrities such as Ariana Grande have infuriated some people who believe that using darker makeup or spray tan to appear tanner or “exotic” maybe to appeal to a specific demographic.

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Even if some people don’t see this as racist or troubling, it’s still not okay for someone to pose as another race for attention or popularity. As I’ve seen in a few Twitter posts, there’s a big difference between cultural appropriation and appreciating someone’s culture/style. 

If a non-black person, for example, enjoys listening to artists such as Whitney Houston or Prince, there’s nothing wrong with them sharing their love for them on their social media platforms. However, if this same person decided to make music, used beats listeners are used to hearing in hip hop songs, and took credit as the creator of the sound, it becomes a problem. 

As uncomfortable as this subject is like other topics relating to race, we still need to have these conversations daily since they are still prevalent in today’s society.  We should not act like these things don’t exist anymore because some of us are uncomfortable talking about race, or think that the issues surrounding minorities don’t apply to us, so why should I contribute to the conversation?

If we continue to ignore the existence of racism today, nothing will change, and minorities will continue to be silenced by the dominant culture.