Digital Blackface / Di-juh-tl blak-fays / adj.
Definition: Digital blackface is when descendants of a non-Black race use memes, emojis and GIFs depicting Black people to express emotions or reactions online to text; for instance, social media posts or instant messaging exchanges.
Etymology: The term blackface originates from 19th and 20th-century theatrical productions, where White actors often portrayed Black characters by darkening their features with makeup. In addition, they would often highlight negative stereotypical assumptions of Black people in their portrayals.
However, the term digital blackface has only really come into prominence in the past decade, with the rise of social media.
Some might argue a White person using a Black person featured in a meme/emoji/GIF is purely innocent (an appreciation for an actor/singer, for instance) or showing solidarity to a cause; others might say it has underlying racist connotation, similarly to highlighting negative stereotypes as done in old-time minstrels.
In a Sentence
Stanley from the hit TV show, The Office, played by Leslie Baker, an African-American actor, is known for his sarcastic demeanor. A meme of him rolling his eyes can be viewed as digital blackface if used by a non-Black person to show disinterest or to say, “whatever.”
In today’s woke-sensitive climate, a non-Black politician should consider avoiding the use of Black character emojis on Twitter lest they want to face a backlash for digital blackface.
Stacey got in trouble when she posted a GIF of African-American actor Eddie Murphy dancing to her high school group chat to express happiness. One of her classmates accused her of digital blackface.
Racial Insensitivity, White Privilege
More WOKE BS