This term of blackface is more relevant now than ever because after all these years and all these movements in the U.S., we still struggle to overcome racism. The past few years have seen so many controversial issues with race, proving that we still have such a long way to go.

When I began to read Lauren Michele Jackson’s article about “digital blackface”, it definitely forced me to think. I scrolled through some of my tweets to see if I had ever used a reaction GIF that featured a black person. Not that this would be inherently wrong, but I wanted to consider whether or not I used it because of what Jackson stated that I related because I see “black people as walking hyperbole.”

Upon reading this article, I realized that I fall into the category of innocently ignorant. Blackface is a tradition that frankly shocks me. This is a part of American history that I am not proud of. I thought that it perhaps had died with the civil rights movement, but now I understand that it can appear in many forms such as the digital blackface that Jackson points out. But I also am not innocent. I have probably used a reaction GIF that features a black person at some point or another because it emphasized a feeling I had. This is that extremeness that she is referring to. I love and respect African-American culture, and of course my feelings in using those GIFs were not malicious, but I also now realize that I don’t have the right to claim that I understand all aspects of their culture, and cannot imitate them behind the wall of the internet.



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Mikey Nielson · November 14, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Great post! I am not entirely sold on the premise of the article though. I fear that stripping away the context and viewing things completely in, pardon the pun, black and white is not the right way to go about addressing racial issues in America. While I do not understand why anyone would feel the need to pose as a different race for any reason, but I would not go so far as to say that sharing a GIF is posing as a race or appropriating a culture. Appropriating media is kind of the basis of internet culture. The reality of putting yourself out there is that people will take what you made and they will remix or deform it. We should cultivate an atmosphere where that is acceptable when done respectfully and with good intent. The article comes off as taking toys away from all kids when one bad kid throws his toy. When we ignore context and make broad generalizations about other groups, we fall into the extremism that I feel is on display in Jackson’s writing. This extremism, though far more benign, still smacks of the evil extremism of white nationalism. An “us vs them” mentality can be a very slippery slope.

Daniel A Webb · November 14, 2018 at 2:30 pm

I agree with you and did consider the GIF reactions I have used. I think I figured that I can use any GIF I would like, but just need to look deeper into the impact it has. I can use black people in my GIFs but I should be aware about whether or I am merely using a caricature of a black stereotype in order to be hyperbolic in my usage. Also, love the GIF you used. That guy has a great YouTube channel.

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