Ethics Observations On “Digital Blackface” (Huh?)

You learn something every day, as the saying goes. This morning, it was that there is something called “digital blackface,” and Ethics Alarms engaged in it by posting the viral video of Tyra Banks flipping out on a contestant on her reality show “America’s Next To Model” 14 years ago.

Just to cut to the ethics verdict in case you have a sock drawer crisis: “digital blackface ” is G-A-R-B-A-G-E. Keep reading to learn why.

Naturally, CNN is promoting the concept, probably to intimidate people like me from posting videos of Don Lemon making an ass of himself. Here is how the article by CNN’s John Blake (who “writes about race, religion, politics and other assorted topics”) defines “digital blackface,” which he calls “one of the most insidious forms of contemporary racism”:

Digital blackface is a practice where White people co-opt online expressions of Black imagery, slang, catchphrases or culture to convey comic relief or express emotions… racialized reactions…mainstays in Twitter feeds, TikTok videos and Instagram reels, and are among the most popular Internet memes… White people laughing at exaggerated displays of Blackness, reflecting a tendency among some to see “Black people as walking hyperbole”…  it “includes displays of emotion stereotyped as excessive: so happy, so sassy, so ghetto, so loud… our dial is on 10 all the time — rarely are black characters afforded subtle traits or feelings”…If a White person shares an image online that perpetuates stereotypes of Black people as loud, dumb, hyperviolent or hypersexual, they’ve entered digital blackface territory. 

What’s going on here? I think it is clear as clear can be. This is one more device to intimidate timid whites from criticizing African-Americans.  It is racist to circulate videos of black Americans embarrassing themselves, so don’t you dare, Whitey! I have to hand it to whoever devised this trick to make simply publicizing what has already been publicized smoking gun evidence of racism. Maybe it was the same genius who came up with “black lives matter.” Ot maybe it is the whiz who promotes the idea that the Libs of TikTok account is bigoted against LGBTQ Americans because it posts, often without comment, videos of members of the group that they have posted themselves.

Stipulated: if a white person habitually posts videos of black people engaging in violent, criminal, unethical or embarrassing conduct, that creates a prima facie case that the individual is bigoted or racist. If a man posts such videos reflecting poorly on women, one could similarly conclude that the individual might have a misogyny problem. If one of my Facebook friends constantly posts every video he can get his hands on that makes Donald Trump look foolish, I might (and do) fairly diagnose him as Trump Deranged.

However, a single instance of posting an unflattering clip of a black American, whether the posting is for the purpose of humor, to suggest that a particular individual is less than admirable or to make any other point cannot and must not be called “racist,” which is what the analogy to blackface attempts to do.

“Digital blackface’ is just the latest attempt at censorship wafting on the putrid winds of the totalitarian Left, as well as tool to convey special privileges to African Americans: it is fine to post videos of white making fools of themselves, but similar videos starring black celebrities and others perpetuate systemic racism.

Nice try.


Pointer: Other Bill

18 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On “Digital Blackface” (Huh?)

  1. Everything is racist. I think what is called for here is “Digital Poutyface”, where people take videos of people having tantrums about being offending, and then follow them up with a pouty-face expression, perhaps from a Will Farrell Anchorman shot…

  2. I lump this story and the “Fo Shizzle my Nizzle” story preceding in the same illogical language policing for fun and profit category. Assholes. The underlying falsehood upon which this whole edifice of insanity lies is the bogus rule that white people can’t say “nigger” even in a non-slurring context, but black guys can use it any damned way they want and it’s just fine and dandy and the word is somehow magically deprived of its status as social and psychological kryptonite. Baloney. If the word’s emission into the environment is toxic, its source is irrelevant.

    • And by the way, Joe Biden should be taken to the wood shed for constantly saying, “Come on, man.” That’s a black guy’s turn of phrase. Actually, all white people should be forbidden from using “man” because “man” came into the vernacular as a result of black guys being tired of being called “boy” by white people. Why hasn’t Joe been called out for this offense?

      Of course, logic and rationality are Euro-centric, white, heteronormative constructs designed to oppress and denigrate the superior Afro-centric concepts of … something.

  3. Did you ever notice how more and more Great Stupid Era commercials have insulting cringe portrayals of white men? Incompetent or incredibly nerdy white male dolts opposite whatever superior minority is being represented.
    The Corona beer commercial with a smooth ass, hip Snoop Dog alongside a pathetically uncool white stiff on the beach, comes to mind.

    • See my comment in prior post. To answer your question, it’s just “white men can’t dance.” It’s been around for a long time. It’s always been okay. White fragility notwithstanding, white people tend to be comfortable with self-deprecation. Uh, black activists? “Not so much.” I think there is definitely such a thing as black fragility. Black self-deprecation? Uh, no.

      • Exe pro wrestler “Tyrus”, who acts as Greg Gutfeld’s sidekick on Gutfeld! once commented that you couldn’t effectively insult white people by calling them names. He said they just laughed.
        I think he may be mostly correct. I know I laughed at the list supposedly compiled at Auburn a couple of months ago.
        It seems all too possible that many of the entries on the list could have been created by white frat boys playing along.

  4. I’d argue thar if this is indeed “one of the most insidious forms of contemporary racism,” then we’ve come further as a society than I might have otherwise imagined, because I think it’s time to call on Peggy Lee.

  5. Clearly the author of this piece has never watched Dave Chappelle or Chris Rock or Richard Pryor. A number of black comedians use/used exaggerated depictions of “blackness” in their routines. I just watched Chappelle do that on Netflix.

    I don’t know if this author is black but if he is, he’s a self hating one. The term “exaggerated displays of Blackness” sounds pretty dang racist to me.

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