In a recent article, CNN analyst John Blake argued that posting popular GIFs, photos, and videos of Black public figures perpetuates racism. Blake defines “digital blackface” as the practice of White people co-opting online expressions of Black imagery, slang, catchphrases, or culture to convey comic relief or express emotions. He claims that this trend is a modern-day repackaging of minstrel shows and racially insensitive theater from the 19th century.
However, Blake’s claims are unfounded and divisive. Posting GIFs, photos, and videos of Black public figures is not inherently racist, and there is no evidence that this perpetuates racism. In fact, many of these images celebrate Black culture and expressions of emotion.
Additionally, Blake’s definition of “digital blackface” is overly broad and vague. It is unclear what constitutes an exaggerated “racialized reaction” and what qualifies as a “racialized expression.” This lack of clarity only serves to further divide people and perpetuate unfounded claims of racism.
Critics have also spoken out against Blake’s claims on social media, noting that they are overly simplistic and ignore the complex nuances of race and culture. Rather than perpetuating unfounded claims of racism, we should strive to celebrate and embrace the diversity of all cultures and expressions.