Blackfishing: Why these influencers are receiving backlash for 'pretending' to be black

Posted by Ria, 06 Dec 18

Photo credit: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com

Ever heard of that term "blackfishing"? Well, this is a term for white people who pretend to be black or mixed race on their Social Media pages. A lot of white people have been accused of faking their race. Civil rights activist, Rachael Dolezal is not the only white person who has received backlash for looking black and claiming she is black.

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Aga, an Instagram influencer who goes by the name Alicja has been shamed on social media for "pretending" to be black. She says "People told me to kill myself". She has even received death threats as a result. Much as natural Polish skin isn't so pale, she does not deny making it appear darker. However, she says her curvaceous body and her pouty lips are real.

"I've had no surgery, so I can't take off these lips. I can't remove my 'fake bum implants'", says Alicja. "With things like tanning, I don't think I've done anything in a malicious way." She just does it because she like it. But people still brand her a blackfisher.

Alicja is now telling her critics that they are wrong to assume that she tans in order to look black.

She isn't the only Instagram influencer being backlashed for curling their hair, braiding, tanning their skin, having fuller lips, hips, and booty. And the one taking the crown with over 260,000 Instagram followers is Sweden's, Emma Hallberg.

One Niccole Nero Gaines shared photos of Hallberg captioned:

"White girls if you want to pass as Black, how about using your platforms to address the injustices and discrimination actual Black people face. Don't just appropriate, Appreciate the people you are imitating #emmahallberg".

Emma came to her defense saying, "I do not see myself as anything else than white. I get a deep tan naturally from the sun."

Some black women are getting offended by this because they feel these white women are changing their features to look like black women. And before and after pictures of Emma and Alicja have really made rounds.

Double standards or what?

One thing that we gotta admit is that when it comes to issues of race and color, there will always be double standards. For instance, some black women straighten their hair and lighten their skin. What are we supposed to call that?

A twitter follower, thetruthspeaker, pointed this out writing, "so when #emmahallberg is tanned then its called #Blackfishing.. but when some wear a brazillian weave and bleach their skin then its considered fine? the hypocrisy is lost on many."

Well, I have to admit, that point is valid. I think one's appearance should be their own business. If I find darker skin more appealing, what's wrong with me tanning my skin or applying foundation that's a shade darker? If I find curly hair better on it, why not wear the hair that way? And the thing about calling fuller lips or big booty black features is nothing but stereotypical.

Culture appropriation or appreciation?

People have gone ballistic when white women braid their hair. Kim Kardashian has been on the receiving end of this. She has had to defend her braided hair on several occasions. But how is that appropriation? Have we ever stopped to think that maybe they just really appreciate and love the look? Why make a big deal out of it?

A New York nurse, Dara Thurmond, is frustrated by white women who pose as black telling Radio 1 Newsbeat that these women have no clue about "the struggle that black women go through just to be accepted as who they are". She feels black influencers are "pushed to the side" on social media by white women who are blackfishing saying they are being unfair to black women. Basically, she feels these women are becoming a huge competition for black influencers and those looking to get product endorsements.

Jaiden Gumbayan, an accused too, understands why she receives the backlash. However, she says there is a "fine line between appreciation and appropriation". Some black women will feel flattered that white women are trying so hard to look like them. Others feel offended that their culture is being copied and is being robbed by people who don't get the history behind it.

Well here is Dara's rationale behind blackfishing:

"We're coming into a time where you see a lot of black women really expressing themselves and stepping into their blackness, and owning it, and not being ashamed of it anymore.

"So it makes sense why it's happening - because I guess some people who are white-presenting feel like they're not the standard anymore. So now they're trying to do things to stay relevant and keep their popularity."

18 responses to "Blackfishing: Why these influencers are receiving backlash for 'pretending' to be black"

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  1.   sultrylady1 says:
    Posted: 28 Dec 18

    Interesting... a white woman altering her entire look was compared to black women wearing weaves, and it's a valid point? NOT! Compare that to white women perming their hair to make it curly and they wear weaves e.g. 'extensions' as well! These women know exactly what they are doing. Trying to get that 'mixed' look because it's in. Aga's picture next to her when she was 13 is fake as phuck!! Why?!!!

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    • ReggywyneLuv says:
      Posted: 30 Dec 18

      I definitely agree. Straightening your hair is basically a change of hairstyle. And black women are not using lighteners like they trying to claim. That’s bogus as well. There have been so many things took from black women that were considered ugly or fat on us but now that all these other women are emulating black women its desired but only on them. And that’s some b.s. How did Kim Kardashian become the queen of curves when everything on her is fake. When Beyoncé body is real and a representation of how a lot of black women have built forever. And these black women out here dating these white dudes better find out how he truly feels about you . A lot of that is coming to the light as well and it ain’t looking too good.

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  2.   Jesusyavuz says:
    Posted: 24 Dec 18

    Go get jobs for yourselves do not waste any time over this bs news .

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    • Starr83 says:
      Posted: 27 Dec 18

      You’re not even American. So how could you even possibly understand the context of what’s being discussed in this article? After all, it’s cultural. And not YOUR culture. And I have a CAREER, not just a “job”. Thank you, next.

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  3.   James73049 says:
    Posted: 21 Dec 18

    Whatever attribute is used, it's well affected by those that are aware, 50/50. To overcome a barrier to be acceptable requires loyalty that is most prevalent, even if the effort is to gain popularity. "Blackfishing" or "Whitefishing" should be contained enough fi not be an issue. Mutual attraction should be the border and limitation for a relationship.

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  4.   Audi122 says:
    Posted: 10 Dec 18

    This is bs! You get a white woman pretending to be black to sell products to black women and some idiot thinks that’s ok? Why can’t they employ a black woman? How many black women do you see employed to sell products to white women?

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  5.   Starr83 says:
    Posted: 07 Dec 18

    Straight hair is not synonymous with white women.

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    • sultrylady1 says:
      Posted: 28 Dec 18

      Fact but people think it is! They swear black women are trying to be white when they themselves wear extensions!!

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  6.   Paganinifan says:
    Posted: 07 Dec 18

    The funniest thing about all this is that the people making “death threats” over something so petty are the same people who protest in the streets about EQUALITY and STOP THE HATE. These are your “friendly and nonviolent” liberals. The hypocrisy IS REAL!

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    • Meche_ says:
      Posted: 13 Dec 18

      How could you possibly know if they're the same people? Making up details to make a point is utterly pointless.

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  7.   dodgethis2k says:
    Posted: 06 Dec 18

    I have no idea who she is (and could care less), however the same black women who have a problem with her tanning likely straighten their hair which is also cultural appropriation...by their own standards.

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    • NardiJMGirl says:
      Posted: 09 Dec 18

      Cultural/ethnic appropriation (what these Instagram influencers are doing in blackface) is a completely different thing from cultural/ethnic assimilation (what you're describing, where (black) women may straighten their hair or do other physical modifications to better blend in with the society they're in.). Even if a black woman straightens her hair or wears wigs, it's obvious even to the blind that that more than likely isn't her natural texture. I'm also sure women with pemed/relaxed/straightened hair or who are wearing wigs/weaves don't go around claiming it as their own genetics or misleading by omission (innocently presenting themselves on a platform and deliberately allowing people to come to incorrect conclusions. The panel even said she was featured on a black magazine in her altered state and she was fine with that, such was the depth of her attempt to pose as someone/something else. So the issue youre presenting doesn't even belong on the same platform as this. It's comparing apples and oranges, it's disingenuous and an attempt to deflect from the insidious nature of the matter at hand.

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      • Starr83 says:
        Posted: 11 Dec 18

        It’s sad that so many of these white men are tone deaf and glib on race relations when they are so anxious to get into an interracial relationship with an African American woman. I could never date or marry a man who didn’t understand the dynamics of race in America. And I pity any African American woman that would. She’s in for a lifetime of grief & headaches. That’s why it’s important to distinguish “preference” from “fetishism”.

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        • SBF4WM says:
          Posted: 25 Dec 18

          I absolutely agree. If a man tells me he does not see color I'm out! Know that this melanin comes with struggle..stregnth..joy and suffering..and magical powers you should dare to dream about. See me..and appreciate who I am at my core!

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          • Starr83 says:
            Posted: 27 Dec 18

            You got it right, Sis! But some women are so desperate to have someone and “swirl” they’re willing to overlook the bs. Black women have to much to lose to put up with foolishness. I know all the little buzzwords and red flags to look for in these jokers. I’m no ones fetish or phase.

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          • Starr83 says:
            Posted: 27 Dec 18

            *too much to lose

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