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Is TikTok perpetuating digital blackface?

by Mareyah Bhatti, Sep 1
1 minute read

Blackface first gained momentum in the 19thC with shows portraying derogatory stereotypes towards Black people. Now, in the age of social media it appears these portrayals are continuing over 100 years later with ‘digital blackface’ surfacing on TikTok.

person holding black iphone 5

This term describes “non-Black people using Black people and culture as emotional reactions on social media [perpetuating] racism in nonchalant ways in the form of gifs, emojis, stickers, and memes.”

So what?

And this isn’t the first time BAME people have been unfairly treated on social media. A recent movement led by choreographer JaQuel Knight aims to help people of colour copyright their popular dance trends, displaying an innovative effort to support crediting the creators on TikTok. The treatment of BAME social media users reinforces how entrenched systemic racism is – cropping up in online spaces and in new forms such as digital blackface.

TikTok has yet to announce how it aims to tackle this racial issue – but it will undoubtedly spread across social media calling for platforms to act on it.

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