What Is Blackfishing And Why Is Social Media Going Crazy Over It?

It appears there is a name for people who mimic black features and/or personalities for benefit: Blackfishing. 

Like catfishing, this phenomenon is based entirely on deceit. While catfishing is the act of creating a fake online persona, Blackfishing takes it a step further by tailoring this persona to Black or Mixed race characteristics. The term was popularized when journalist Wanna Thompson called out some non-black female influencers and celebrities for cosplaying as Blacks. This brought to light the broader conversation of cultural appropriation and a fast-rising social media beauty trend.

https://twitter.com/WannasWorld/status/1059989652487069696?s=20

What qualifies as Blackfishing?

https://twitter.com/tokyyobarbie/status/1347178416089477120?s=20

This alarming social media trend is inspired by the need to appear Black, mixed-race, or racially ambiguous in order to look ‘cool.’ It involves tanning, photoshop, hairstyle and body modifications, and using heavier makeup, among others. All of these are aspects of Black culture that are often adopted by non-blacks to gain favours. It is like a modern-day version of ‘Blackface,’ but with a different objective. Unlike Blackface which mimicked Black features to ridicule them, Blackfishing is doing it to profit off the culture.

To these people, it is essential to mirror Black looks because they are exotic and thus, appealing. It also inspires a sense of mystery and obscurity. Thus, you won’t be shocked to find that the Blackfishing trend is prevalent among today’s Influencers and celebrities. A couple of famous people including Kim Kardashian, Rita Ora, and Selena Gomez have been accused of embracing this trend. As expected, these celebrities are celebrated and endorsed by brands the world over as ‘symbols of diversity.’

The most disturbing aspect of Blackfishing is the convenience of appropriating Black culture while ignoring the injustice that Blacks and other minority races suffer on a constant basis. It is the freedom that white privilege affords a person to look ‘cool’ whereas Black people suffer racism and violence for looking the exact way. It is the idea that being Black is the ‘new hot thing’ except you are actually Black. Great for PR, bad in real life.

This is such a big deal because…

as if it were not already hard enough, Blackfishing makes it even harder for Black Influencers and Celebrities to thrive against all the competition. From brand endorsements to representation, Blacks have to fight twice as hard to be recognized in a world of cosplayers. Thus, this trend has reduced Blackness to a thing that can be taken off and put on at will.

This is why platforms like BIDHAAR exist, to provide global representation for Blacks and Africans everywhere. We exist to tell authentic stories while showcasing brands and talents from across creative and cultural industries. Through our showroom, agency services, and content creation, we are creating opportunities and contributing to the growth of our economy.

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