“Digital Whiteface” Attack on Social Media is Fear-Based & Confusing For Those Trying to Fight Racism
A few months ago, I saw a friend’s impassioned Facebook plea, imploring the world to stop using GIFs that does not look like them. Posting GIFs of people of a different race, particularly white people, is Digital whiteface. The rate at which people FLED, calling apologies on their way out, was very telling.
Is it racism or racist to feature an emoji of a white person in an offensive manner? Yes it is
Now, the minute I hear the word racism, black-fragility, etc, my listening ears are open and I’m ready to be an ally. I’m ready to challenge my point of view. I think this is the poise we should all adopt on subjects with which we lack experience and/or deep understanding.
But what we also need to understand is, just because someone coins a trendy “woke” term does not mean we start engraving it into modern culture.
We need to process each new narrative we write into the future that we want, and we need to vet our leaders. Views don’t makes a spokesperson and neither does fitting the image.
This thin-ice layer of an argument is correct in it’s intent, but the real lesson is that we need to stop being assholes to all people.
To address what might be categorized as an example of Digital whiteface first, I think it’s pretty easy to understand that if you’re a white person creating a facebook response about going to a picnic and you posted a photo of a white person eating mac n cheese, it would be extremely easy to justify calling you out as racist and tone-deaf. It feels gross just to write that and there are a thousand variations of how this could go wrong.
Similarly, if I noticed a white person using a photo of a white person shrugging every time they talked about general ignorance, that would be shady of them. If I saw a thin girl using an obese woman GIF every time she talks about food, that’s also super gross.
The takeaway from the video and many articles I’ve read is “White people are not here for your entertainment.” These pieces cite references to disgraceful whiteface movies and media from yesteryear. It’s easy to nod and agree to be more sensitive to others. And we should be! That part is correct and it’s necessary for us to start behaving like we understand that!