Written by Bonnie Walker
We’ve all witnessed the peculiar phenom of blackface, self proclaimed “wiggers”, and the recent wave of “blackfishing.” From the Rachel Dolezal’s, WoahVicky’s, Bhad Babie’s, and influencers a la Instagram. All have used what they deem to be blackness as a cloak. A coat of arms allowing them access into spaces they might not otherwise have been invited to.
Most recently, the internet has been raving over videos of Tom Hanks’s son speaking Jamaican Patois. A real life Malibu’s most wanted caricature. However, a silver spoon bred White man, using what little knowledge he has of the language to garner media attention, whilst promoting the music his own parents won’t support should raise some eyebrows.
While some may find it to be endearing, I propose we take a deeper look into how non Black people’s adoption of what they deem to be “black” displays of character and culture are actually promoting stereotypes of the worst kind. To what extent is the appropriation of black features and speech allowed, before it’s called out for what it really is. An exploitation of culture created by historically oppressed groups of people.
Why is it that you never see these people mimicking the speech patterns of Black people who primarily refrain from the use of AAVE? AAVE, being African American vernacular, which contrary to what most non Black Americans believe, does carry rules of grammar and its own pattern of speech. Not only are these misguided odes to Blackness misplaced. These behaviors contribute to the ever perpetuated stereotype that Blackness is a monolith, and that we all live, breath, speak, and think the same way.
All in all, America is a free country, and if freedom of speech and expression weren’t afforded to us, you’d not be reading this article right now. I just ask that we pay more mind to clocking those who’d use blackness as a mask, marketing tool, and means of getting you to click on their latest music link. Blackness is not a commodity to be packaged, redistributed, and shelved at will.