“Gif” it a rest white people — quit your digital blackfacing

What do the gifs and emojis you choose say about you? If you’re white, you are part of what’s wrong with the world today.

According to the New York Times (video below), if you are white and share a GIF of a black person, you are racist and need to stop — now. Teen Vogue writer Lauren Michele Jackson calls the act of sharing a reaction GIF of a black person “digital blackface.”

Jackson says digital blackface does not describe intent, but an act — the act of inhabiting a black persona. Employing digital technology to co-opt a perceived cache or black cool. She continues:

Ultimately, black people and black images are thus relied upon to perform a huge amount of emotional labor online on behalf of nonblack users. We are your sass, your nonchalance, your fury, your delight, your annoyance, your happy dance, your diva, your shade, your ‘yaas’ moments. The weight of reaction GIFing, period, rests on our shoulders. Intertwine this proliferation of our images with the other ones we’re as likely to see — death, looped over and over — and the Internet becomes an exhausting experience. 

If you find yourself always reaching for a black face to release your inner sass monster, maybe consider going the extra country mile and pick this nice Taylor Swift GIF instead.

The White Internet’s Love Affair with Digital Blackface