Blackfishing : Live Your Truth

Robert Viray-Edwards, ENN Staff

Blackfishing: Commonly perpetrated by females of European descent, involves artificial tanning and the use of makeup to manipulate various facial features in order to appear to have some type of Black African ancestry. According to the Independent, the phenomenon emerged in November of 2018, when a Twitter thread calling on people to post “all of the white girls cosplaying as black women on Instagram” went viral, garnering more than 23,000 retweets and thousands of responses criticizing influencers for doing this. Allegations of blackfishing have been made against multiple social influencers and for some, is a problem in today’s world.

Multiple social media influencers such as, Danielle Bregoli, Kylie Jenner, and Selena Gomez have been accused of blackfishing. Many people of color on the internet were attacking and sending in tweets such as: “Why is Selena Gomez trying to be black?” and “Miss Selena Gomez looks black in her new photoshoot. Girlie can’t get enough of stealing her exes’ music ideas, but is now stealing from black women.” For sophomore, Princess Paige, blackfishing is a serious problem that hits home for her.

“As a young, black woman, I find it very offensive. There’s a difference between getting a tan and just painting your body with a darker foundation. I feel as if my skin color isn’t a joke, and I’d like to personally talk to someone who thinks otherwise,” said Paige.

The term ‘Culture Appropriation’ and ‘Culture Vulture’ have been brought up in this topic of blackfishing. Culture Appropriation is the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society. Many seem to believe that these accused blackfishers are culture appropriating another’s ethnicity. For sophomore, Danielle Montgomery, blackfishing is rooted from people of color being the new standard in today’s time.

“We’re coming into a time where you see a lot of black women really expressing themselves and their blackness, owning it, and not being ashamed of it. So it makes sense why it’s happening because I guess some people who are a different race feel like they’re not the standard anymore. So, now they’re trying to do things to stay relevant. It’s perfectly fine to appreciate the mixed variety of people around you. But, if it gets to a point where you are now trying to pass as someone of mixed race and you’re not. That’s when it becomes an issue,” said Montgomery.

With many people of color being unsupportive towards blackfishing, they still want everybody to live their life by embracing their own skin color and not vicariously through tanning oneself to look another ethnicity. For junior, Matilda Nwanna, she just wants all the blackfishers out there to be themselves.

“I am strongly against Blackfishing. Like why try to be another color? They are trying so hard to look like people of my skin color and it is very inappropriate, it’s cultural appropriation. We should all be comfortable and embrace the skin color that we were born in,” said Nwanna.