Claims of “Digital Blackface” Cause Divide

by Jason Thiel – Staff Writer

Nowadays, tons of people use emojis and gifs, thanks to the revolutionary era of smartphones and the internet. New chatting services and apps like Snapchat and Facebook have paved the way for the use of emojis, gifs, and other forms of online expression. These seem quite harmless and comedic, as people use them to enhance comedy with their friends as well as just express emotions. Even then, people have found ways to turn this into a controversy. There have been diversity quarrels over the colors of the emojis, and the ratio of dark to light-skinned emojis that are available. None, however, have been more embarrassing and disturbing than the idea of digital blackface.

Digital blackface, according to a video put out by BBC News, is the idea that by using emojis and gifs of black people in a joke, you are being racist in a similar manner to when white actors would put on “blackface” to portray a black person in a comedic way. Now, yes, I suppose it’s fair to say that using a gif with a black person to enhance your comedy can be using a black person in a comedic way. But, where the difference lies is in that people use those gifs and emojis without regard to color. For instance, a funny gif of Kevin Hart doing something is used for comedic purposes, as he’s a funny and popular comedian, in the same respect as a funny gif of Tom Hanks or some other famous white celebrity could be used to enhance a joke.

Now, you can totally make an argument that because of certain aspects of racism throughout history, blacks and whites have become so culturally different that they are represented differently in gifs. The comedy of blacks is different than whites and thus the issue isn’t in using the gifs, it goes much deeper. Anyone can use a gif to back up a racist comment, but at the end of the day, it’s the comment that’s racist, not the gif.

This whole argument about digital blackface in gifs and emojis is an example of the cult of outrage that is causing so many problems. The radical left cannot continue to be hypersensitive to cultural appropriation and racism, causing them to start drama over meaningless objects and topics, which destroys their cause and their argument by making all feminists and civil rights advocates look like “triggered snowflakes.” Does that mean we should ignore actual cultural appropriation and racism? Absolutely not, but getting mad at hula dolls and black emojis isn’t the way to make you look like an advocate for racial equality, it makes you and your whole political look like idiots.

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