Blackface to Blackfishing? What Does It Mean?

Blackface to Blackfishing? What does it mean?

If we go back to the late 19th century and early 20th century. We will get a better idea about the term “blackface”. Blackface is a term used to describe a form of theatrical make-up used predominantly by non-black performers to represent a caricature of a black person. Sadly such caricature was not done to portray the essence of black people. But to add a comedic aspect to the drama. We can say that things have quite changed from “blackfacing” to “blackfishing” now. Or we can even consider “blackfishing” as the new face of “blackfacing” of this era. However, there are a lot of things to know more about the term “blackfishing”.

What exactly is Blackfishing?

Blackfishing, the term was first coined by the hip-hop journalist Wanna Thompson. She explicitly calls out non-Black influencers and public figures using bronzer, tanning, Photoshop, or even cosmetic surgery to change their looks to appear Black or mixed race. Before, blackface was a racist practice, which involved putting on dark makeup to mock the features of Black people. Likewise, blackfishing also treats Black features as a costume that can be removed but may give them special attention and benefits.

Iggy Azalea in her recent music video (Source-Stuff)

People are calling out on celebrities for blackfishing. Because there are many other ways to stand for the black people for justice and support but instead using such features to gain the market’s attention and sympathy is a total nuisance. Along with celebrities like Ariana Grande and Kim Kardashian. Fans accused Rita Ora of “blackfishing” on social media after they discovered her heritage is white Albanian.

Why would anyone blackfish?

Being insecure about their own appearance is one of the factors why anyone would blackfish. When people don’t feel celebrated for their original look, they decide on experimenting. This could eventually lead to blackfishing. Likewise, the desire to get more opportunities is another reason. The worldwide rise of fame in media of celebrities like Rihana and Beyonce has made people think that blackfishing may help gain popularity and opportunities. Likewise, the market also sees the aesthetic of Blackness as cool and capitalizing. In addition to that, another reason could be the intention to show sympathy to the black community. Caring and showing sympathy for a deprived community is not wrong but there are many other ways to do that. Because showing sympathy may even take the turn to gain sympathy.

What black people have to say about blackfishing?

White people freely use black ethnic features and hair trends to show sympathy or to steal the spotlight. While black people have come across a long way fighting for such look and appearance. It’s not just some fashion trend but something that holds tough history. They have the privilege to own it one day while leaving it another day. Ironically, the same original look of black people goes unacknowledged.  Blackfishing certainly should not be normalized.  As it has become another method of non-black people profiting and benefiting from mimicking a race that isn’t theirs. Sadly, it’s the same race where the people of that race struggle to get the same level of opportunity in society as they get.

Also Read: Black History Month: Celebrating the Significance of Black Culture