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We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in Reaction GIFs | Teen Vogue
If you’ve never heard of the term before, “digital blackface” is used to describe various types of minstrel performance that become available in cyberspace. Blackface minstrelsy is a theatrical tradition dating back to the early 19th century, in which performers “blacken” themselves up with costume and behaviors to act as black caricatures. The performances put society’s most racist sensibilities on display and in turn fed them back to audiences to intensify these feelings and disperse them across culture. Many of our most beloved entertainment genres owe at least part of themselves to the minstrel stage, including vaudeville, film, and cartoons. While often associated with Jim Crow–era racism, the tenets of minstrel performance remain alive today in television, movies, music and, in its most advanced iteration, on the Internet.

Now, I'm not suggesting that white and nonblack people refrain from ever circulating a black person’s image for amusement or otherwise (except maybe lynching photos, Emmett Till’s casket, and videos of cops killing us, y’all can stop cycling those, thanks). There’s no prescriptive or proscriptive step-by-step rulebook to follow, nobody’s coming to take GIFs away. But no digital behavior exists in a deracialized vacuum. We all need to be cognizant of what we share, how we share, and to what extent that sharing dramatizes preexisting racial formulas inherited from “real life.” The Internet isn’t a fantasy — it’s real life.

t's an implication that points toward a strange way of thinking: When we do nothing, we’re doing something, and when we do anything, our behavior is considered "extreme." This includes displays of emotion stereotyped as excessive: so happy, so sassy, so ghetto, so loud. In television and film, our dial is on 10 all the time — rarely are black characters afforded subtle traits or feelings. Scholar Sianne Ngai uses the word “animatedness” to describe our cultural propensity see black people as walking hyperbole.

If you find yourself always reaching for a black face to release your inner sass monster, maybe consider going the extra country mile and pick this nice Taylor Swift GIF instead.
digital-blackface  blackface  minstrel-show  teen-vogue  lauren-michele-jackson  racism  black-people  memes  digital-minstrels  reaction-gifs  gifs 
august 2017 by yolandaenoch

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awkwafina  blaccent  black-people  blackface  crazy-rich-asians-movie  cultural-appropriation  digital-blackface  digital-minstrels  gifs  memes  minstrel-show  national-geographic  racism  reaction-gifs  susan-goldberg  teen-vogue  vulture.com 

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