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Alternative black people

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The online popularity of images of black people — particularly women and femme gay men — is a Alternative black people of internet life and, in recent months, an increasingly controversial one. Are gifs being used to disseminate racist stereotypes in cyberspace?

Is there something problematic about white people using brown-skinned emojis? And what about the Black Lives Matter Facebook fundraising page that was revealed to be run by two unaffiliated white men in Australia?

Was this the latest iteration of digital blackface in action? Or just a run-of-the-mill money-making scam? Actually, black women have been calling out certain online behaviours as digital-age blackface for some time now.

Shafiqah Hudson, a Philadelphia-based writer and academic, first noticed the phenomenon back in the mids in a comment thread on an article about police brutality.

When Twitter arrived on the scene, accounts impersonating black women also quickly adapted to the new platform.

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Unfortunately, misogynoir — the specific misogyny directed towards black women — flowed freely online during this period, at least judging by the Alternative black people of one Wanda LaQuanda. Between andher Twitter account bigoletitties built up a 30,strong following and accompanying merchandise line by combining a profile picture of a thickset black women in lingerie with all-caps tweets, in which Wanda boasted about her sexual prowess in a crude approximation of African-American Vernacular English AAVE.

Wanda LaQuanda was actually Alex Munkacsy, a bearded, year-old white man working in the tech industry. Alternative black people apparently disappearing from the internet altogether, Munkacsy gave an interview promoting his e-book, Wanda Exposed, to Kernel, the online magazine founded by a pre-Breitbart Milo Yiannopoulos.

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The article never uses the word blackface, nor does it question Munkacsy on his use of racist and sexist stereotypes, but it does offer some useful insight into the methods and motivations behind Alternative black people of digital blackface.

I was surrounded by black culture at the time.

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I loved it and I miss it … There is such a thing as black culture. There was this desperate scramble to squeeze her into some semi-relevant stereotype of a black woman. Blackness has long had a certain cachet for non-black people, yet Alternative black people anonymity of the internet makes slipping in and out of alternative identities all the more of a temptation.

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The Alternative black people, however, is that all these instances of digital blackface exist within the same cultural context: And, yes, that would include deliberately using the wrong colour emoji. Their attempts at confronting even overt racial harassment on their platforms have been laughable at best, yet leading gif database GIPHY says it, at least, is already taking the phenomenon seriously.


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