TikTok trends have again raised issues around cultural appropriation and outright racism as white users of the app are often mimicking Black creatives, reports Yahoo.
Two recent audio clips have garnered thousands of versions, and many are calling attention to how non-Black creators are adapting the clip and participating in racist behavior on the app by doing so.
The trending audio currently causing controversy comes from two Black women. One uses Summer Walker’s song “I Need Sum Money” and the other by Ari Fletcher, who goes by @therealkylesisterr, which has been turned into memes without understanding the context and the origins of the sounds, and how misrepresenting them, intentional or not, is problematic.
“When you come on this app, how often do you see white women white woman-ing versus how much do you see white women Black woman-ing, badly?” creator Kiera Breaugh asked in a TikTok video about the trend. “I want you to really think about how much content we’re all consuming of white women characterizing Black women in whatever imagination they have them to be like.”
Breaugh said that white creators are ignorant of their performance of “digital blackface.”
“I do feel compelled to share my perspective of what’s actually happening and what’s actually being done because it’s just kind of like a predicament that we’re in, where Black things are usually the most popular, and Black sounds are usually the most popular, and Black dances are usually the most popular. So, of course, that’s going to make people want to use them,” she argued. “But then what they don’t see is what they’re doing to those sounds and how they’re completely characterizing Black women. And then they have to, you know, put their finger over their mouth when the N-word comes up and it’s like this ridiculous caricature.”
@rvyna, the creator of the initial video, explained in the comment section the dangers of white and non-Black users perpetuating stereotypes of Black women.
“Dear Nonblacks: you are proving my point by calling the audio of a Black woman just speaking as she naturally does, ‘sassy and assertive,” she wrote. “It’s a microaggressive [sic] trope that’s rooted in racism. It’s a simple concept that y’all would get if this was any other race group but y’all have turned Black mannerism and speech patterns into trendy slang and funny things to imitate that you can’t recognize how racist it is.”
Mia Moody-Ramirez, a professor of gender, race, and media at Baylor University said that non-Black users who appropriate the behavior of Black women are performing modern-day blackface.
“It’s just the idea of non-Black people trying out Black identities online. It’s like traditional blackface, where you have white people who would put makeup on their face, and they would assume the identity of a Black person,” she explains.
“Now we’re seeing it in a digital platform, where white people are using Black vernacular; they’re using certain phrases that Black people traditionally use and also they’re using darker skin emojis,” she added.