Racism to Glorification

In this time and age, the internet is a very popular place for people to develop and broadcast their own personal identities. In the early nineties white men mostly dominated the population in cyberspace. A digital divide was created between white men and other minority groups on the internet. Nakamura gives the readers a little bit of an insight on the internet and how racial groups are generated on the internet, “while in Cybertypes I focused on the constraints inherent in primarily textual interfaces that reified racial categories, in this work I locate the Internet as a privileged and extremely rich site for the creation and distribution of hegemonic and counter hegemonic visual images of racialized bodies,” (Nakamura 13). The internet does function in ways which promote and create racist ideas towards minority groups however the internet also works in ways to dismantle these racist ideologies. Racism should be spoken about on the internet rather than it being ignored. Nakamura speaks about “genteel racism” and how this is currently an ongoing issue on the internet and in society. “Genteel racism” is similar to the idea of color blind racism “color blindness is a symptom of racism. Rather than see and acknowledge racial difference, we would rather not see at all. Thus remaining blind to the effects of the sight of race in a racist culture is a symptom of racism,” (Nakamura 3). Many people ignore the fact that racism exists and still works in ways where minority groups are continuously being oppressed. 

There are more people from different backgrounds and with different identities now using the internet. “There are many Internet spaces, such as pregnancy bulletin boards, blogs, and livejournals that may now assume a default female user, and others such as petition and dating web sites that assume users of color,” (Nakamura 14). The internet is more diverse with all of the social media platforms. Women and minority groups are using the internet at greater volumes which has created a new internet divide. The internet has the power to build and give definitions to different types of people. However, it also works in ways to destroy these preconceived images and should be continued to do so. In this era, many people are moving away from these internalized racist ideas and becoming more aware of different kinds of people and accepting of other cultures.

Blackfishing is becoming very popular on social media apps such as instagram and twitter. This concept is extremely strange to myself and others because there are people on social media pretending and representing themselves as black or mixed. This has created a controversy on the internet and between black women and white women who pose as if they are black or mixed. Dara Thurmond a nurse who resides in New York said “says her frustration comes when white women who appear to be posing as black don’t know the struggle that black women go through just to be accepted as who they are.” I hope all of you can see this shift from the early 90’s where white men dominated the internet and now in the twenty first century there are people posing as people from a black or mixed race. Many of these social media influencers glorify darker skin, braided hairstyles, curly hair, and fuller lips. 

The questions I have for you have any of you read a post that lead you to be more informed on racial issues or have you read any posts on social media that have changed your ideas on race and or racism and if so what was it about? Why do you think there is this shift in society and why are more people gloriying people from black or from mixed backgrounds? Do any of you see this as an issue?

Nakamura, Lisa. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultural Aspects of the Internet. University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

Virk, Kameron, and Nesta McGregor. Blackfishing: The Women Accused of Pretending to be Black, BBC News, 18 Dec. 2018.


7 Replies to “Racism to Glorification”

  1. Hi Tai,
    I enjoyed your response very much, it was very interesting and informative. People use the internet to socialize, display personal identities, and much more. The internet has completely changed dating culture, the spread of information, and blurred the lines between the private and social spectrum. Unfortunately, this allows for a faster spread of misinformation than ever before. I never realized how easy it is for racist ideologies to be spread through social media platforms. In my prejudice and discrimination class we learned that racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. proceed to spread solely because people are not aware of them. Colorblind racism is a prominent tactic which allows people to not confront racist ideologies by denying that racism even exists. This illogical inference is what allows for the prominent spread of racism in modern culture. I did not know about this “black-fishing” trend until reading this post, however, I was able to relate it to several examples in my own life once I read about it. I do not know what would compel someone to want to appear as another race, but it reminds me of the offensive “Black Face” actors from the Jim Crow era. I see this as a very serious issue, however, I believe if the people doing this understood why it was offensive and became aware of the systems of oppression that have been put into place in America, then this could lead to a valuable spread of information in order to begin to disassemble these oppressive systems.

  2. Hi Tai, I agree with your blog post. There is an increased sense of diversity on the internet and a push for social change and racial equality. The internet has become an important part of most people’s everyday lives and the content on the internet is a reflection of that. The reading states, “This emphasis on privacy, competition, lack of regulation, and “nondiscrimination” not only opened the door for the transition from an early-nineties understanding of the Internet as a utopian space for identity play, community building, and gift economies to a more privatized, profit-driven model, one in which the Internet came to function as a “commodity-delivery system for vastly expanded media companies,” as Straton puts it, but it also echoed the language of color blindness or “genteel racism.” (3) And with this increase in positive internet space there still remain aspects of the internet that are negative. I like how you mentioned Blackfishing and I believe this has become a trend among celebrities, which has made it more of an issue with many people attempting to emulate these celebrities. In turn this leads to blackfishing becoming a mainstream phenomenon.

  3. Hi Tai,
    I absolutely love that you related this article to black fishing. It is one of the newer forms of fetishizing black women that there is, and I like that you are talking about it. As discussed in the article by Nakamura, the internet has become more and more inclusive. As the internet has become more visual, it becomes more accepting of all kinds of people. Nakamura writes,” In defiance of public discourse that says that race doesn’t exist and doesn’t
    matter, either scientifically or practically, users continue to make avatars, Web sites, quizzes, moving image sequences, and petitions that say that it does,and it does. Despite uneven forms of access to Internet technology, there are burgeoning visual cultures of race on the Internet authored by people of color and women. These cultures flourish in the out-of-the-way spaces of
    the popular Internet, in the online communities for mothers, teens, disgruntled consumers, and everyday interactions” (209). However, with the ever-growing diversity of the internet has come the fetishization and appropriation of other cultures by white people. It is something that is quite common, with blackfishing the most recent form. White women will often take over something that is either apparent to women of color’s look or culture and claim they are just “making it their own” when in fact they are appropriating other people just for fun while the people of that origin are suffering daily injustices just for existing in their culture. While it is great that women and POC are becoming ever present in terms of the internet, it certainly has its drawbacks which unfortunately includes white people attempting to control and take over things that are not theirs to do so with. The internet definitely needs to continue to get more diverse, but something must be done about the further divides being caused with these awful fetishizations.

  4. Hi Tai,
    I really enjoyed reading your posts and the points that you made. What I liked the most was that you had visuals so we could clearly see what you meant by white women posing as black or mixed women. Reading that part of the text, I was appalled. We are in a time where expressing yourself is supposed to be more acceptable. If that is true then why are people trying to be someone they’re not? Is it who they truly want to be? I mean, our social media platforms have certainly expanded and have give us resources to notice the issues that our society is facing. These platforms allow us to not only see what is going on in the news, but also understand how people are feeling by the things they post and share. I personally think that there has been progress in our technology that makes us able to have these opportunities to express ourselves. Like Allie mentioned in her post, we now have bitmoji. Bitmoji lets you create your own avatar to make it look like you. Race, gender, body type, style, and other features do not matter. Bitmoji provides an ample of skin tones, clothes, shapes, and many more characteristics so you can design your avatar the way that best represents you. However, this is just one small step. This doesn’t hide racism; this doesn’t hide color blindness. There are still people in this world that are going to be cruel. So, is something like Bitmoji or Facebook beneficial to our society or do they just provide more platforms for people to judge and tear down human beings?

  5. Hey Tai!
    Awesome blog post- you summarized, acknowledged critical points in the text, and used solid examples. I agree that the internet is creating a space where race, gender, sexuality, physical appearance, and overall material value can be marginalized for the public eye. With this, comes the glorification and cultural appropriation that others display on the internet as well- seeing nothing wrong with the underlying messages their posts are sending. In my opinion, I think the portion of the people who chose to glorify or appropriate black and/or mixed culture because they feel as though they have the power to do so. Or it could simply be complete ignorance of the issue. This issue could also be a matter of personal attention, as Nakamura states, “Users comment vociferously on each other’s visual objects of self-representation” (203). Society changes significantly throughout the years and apparently “black-fishing” is the new trend- probably because of the overwhelming attention it gets. Instead, people should embrace the positives of their own culture and roots, not pose as if they’re from another culture.
    A quote that stood out to me and also links with your blog post is, “…films and advertising campaigns like Apple’s iPod commercials and print ads are uniquely responsive to issues regarding the representation of interfaces in cinema but represent people of color as its objects rather than its subjects” (Nakamura 203). As you agreed that the internet is a place where people broadcast their identifies and show themselves as “human”, why are people of color not being represented as “human” as other people in the media? This is partially due to the digital divide Nakamura writes about and the privileged vs the non-privileged portrayed int the media.

  6. Hi Tai,
    I think you had a great stance on the reading today and you articulate your thoughts thoroughly. The internet has become a source of communication for almost everyone worldwide, thus playing a major role in many people’s daily lives. Social media for instance has become notorious for politically incorrect posts unfortunately, as you brought up Blackfishing. I believe Blackfishing is another form of black face in this generation and it’s baffling how many people continue the action, according to Vijay Prashad, “Color blindness is a symptom of racism. Rather than see and acknowledge racial differences, we would rather not see at all…” There was a twitter thread I read online a while ago addressing Blackfishing, stating how many White Americans will benefit off Black culture, such as hair styles, slang, traditional wear, etc, but will turn away from addressing racism. I do see this as an issue because it is a prime act of cultural appropriation. It’s horrifying how Mulsim women will face discrimination when they wear hijabs, but its a “fashion trend” when white young women wear hijabs at Cochella. However, there is a shift in media, there are many woke people of color groups and white people that will address these issues by starting hashtags or social media accounts to education and put a stop to the ignorance.

  7. Hey Tai!
    Honestly, you highlighted all the key points to the reading perfectly and analyzed each of the concepts in depth which helped to better understand everything as a whole! I definitely agree with your point about our era, and how our generation is now moving away from prejudice ideas and realizing that there is a variety of people out there and they should all be respected, in both the outside world and the internet. Our generation uses social media to spread these problems both locally and world-wide, while other platforms (such as the internet or T.V.) do the opposite, trying to make these problems worse by concealing and pushing them away. By our generation spreading it through social media, it helps to show others how these people are feeling about certain subjects. These social media platforms give people a sense of individuality and a chance to express their feelings and thoughts, which can have a great amount of impact on a situation; “a key difference between the Internet and other media forms is the production of a visual culture expressive of racial and ethnic identity that is potentially available to a much broader group of people” (Nakamura, 204).

    When I came across the two pictures of the women you posted, I remembered seeing them on Snapchat’s news channels and also Twitter. These photos were examples of the “blackfishing” that is occurring, which is very surprising to me because they are trying to fit in to a culture by having a certain look. I have never even heard of the term “blackfishing” until reading this, and now that I have a better understanding, I have seen it almost everywhere I go. The transformations that these people undergo to look like a different race has become a very controversial topic in America, which has definitely been featured on social media. Instead of “blackfishing,” these people should appreciate their own cultures, appreciating who they really are and where they came from.

Leave a Reply

Skip to content