So, My Gifs are Racist Now?

Adventures on Social Media

So My Gifs are Racist Now?

Lyndsey N: I have a question. Is it considered offensive if a non-black person (whether said person is Asian, Hispanic, or White) posts gifs/memes of black people? I ask because I posted a gif of NeNe Leeks (if you know me, you know she’s my favorite from RHOA) in response to a thread in THAT group about women’s right to vote and a Middle Eastern woman about took my head off.
I’ve posted gifs/memes with Oprah, etc. before in that group and no one until this woman, who’s not even black herself, lost her ever-loving mind. Am I wrong and it is insensitive/offensive? Does it offend any of you (if it does, I sincerely apologize)? Or do some people not care at all? I’m genuinely curious because those that know me know it’s never my intention to offend.

MissUnderstood: Willing to be the friend breaking this down. Read this photo gallery first and let me know what questions you have. We can go from there. 🙂 It talks about the use of emojis but many points could apply in this case as well.

Think before you emoji

Lyndsey N: I was hoping you’d chime in❤ . I’m always grateful for your input. Thank you for sharing the article that really helped answer a lot of questions I had. I didn’t realize that posting gifs of black people by nonblacks is considered blackface. That is never my intention at all. 
My question is how did it become considered blackface? Was it always that way? I’m curious because I know I’ve used gifs of NeNe Leeks, Oprah, Ice Cube, and other black artists/celebrities that I’m a huge fan of.

MissUnderstood:  There was always a certain degree of it being unsettling for many Black people on the receiving end of it. Only recently have people been discussing the reasons why on a larger scale. It’s not an obviously racist thing, so you’re gonna get conflicting opinions, but it can definitely be problematic.

It’s hard. The most important thing to know is that there are many things precious to Black culture, black mannerisms, dances, and black language patterns that individuals do and go “viral”. Soon after, folks start to believe that these things are unique to the individual or a part of “internet culture”, “stan culture”, “influencer culture”, etc. Then, people start to believe that everyone just owns things, and “that’s just how we all communicate”. They lose their original connection to Black people culturally.

“Why pretend to wear our sound, swag, or look like it is a mask for a moment?”

Why do people feel the need to copy Black people to properly express themselves to the point where using our bodies, sounds, swag is so… normalized compared to other groups? Instead of normalizing the behavior, what people need to be asking themselves is, why do I feel like it’s necessary to use a darker-skinned emoji, use that gif of a Black lady, change my voice tone a little bit, to communicate that message? Ultimately, no one has an “inner Black woman” or “inner Black man” to release except for Black people. So, why pretend to wear our sound, swag, or look like it is a mask for a moment?

This is where things become problematic. In doing so, I know most people are not trying to USE us in this way. They just see viral funny clips they feel like they can relate to and want to express things in more animated ways. But Black bodies have always been used in this country as a source of entertainment, art, expression, and more for Whites and other groups while being exploited in the process.

I think an easy test to ask self is if this were in person versus on the Internet, how accepted/comfortable would this action be? Would this hairstyle, speech pattern, clothing choice, neck roll, or “sassiness”, be seen as acceptable, cool, trendy for me to do but “ghetto”, “aggressive”, “unprofessional”, etc. for a Black person to do? Would people of color around me feel comfortable or slighted by me mimicking this person?

It’s hard to find the balance between appreciation and distasteful/disrespectful/mildly racist but we can all try to respect one another as best we can. Apologize when boundaries for some individuals are pushed too far, and adjust as needed.

I hope this helps!

– MissUnderstood

Lyndsey N: Thank you so much for sharing a little backstory. It makes sense when you put it that way. It was never my intention to ever offend anyone in the black community. I love that we can have good discussions. Thank you for being sweet (as always❤) and patient in explaining things to me.

Reposted with permission from Lyndsey Nadeau from a conversation on Facebook.

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    1. Michael Coovert

      I haven’t seen the meme you posted, but in my opinion, it would all depend on what the meme depicted and read. If you were appropriating African-American culture, then it opens the door for being offensive. But also think these days, it seems like people are just looking for a reason to be offended. At the same time, there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of vile, offensive material out there

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