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John Byrne
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Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 17 October 2021 at 8:53am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Encountered this term for the first time today, and find myself immediately confused.

In my (non-sarcastc) attempt to stay as “woke” as I can, I reach out to the Forum. Blackfishing, as I understand it, involves White people, mostly performers, adopting Black tropes (including darkening their skin) in an attempt to be “cool”.

Nothing new there. Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis Presley.

But, if I am reading this right, isn’t race swapping in movies the ultimate example?

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 17 October 2021 at 9:28am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

As far as I understand, "blackfishing" is when somebody, and it seems to be mostly women, will drastically change their appearance to (deceptively) present themselves as Black or a person-of-color, presumably to cash in on the attendant cultural cache, but of course without the attendant societal perils of actually being non-White.




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Brian Acuff
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Posted: 17 October 2021 at 10:49am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

This was my first example of "blackfishing" that I came across a few years ago:


In comparison Elvis only performed the music, but he never faked his backstory.
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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 17 October 2021 at 3:53pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

That's my understanding as well, Michael.
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 18 October 2021 at 12:21pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Can white men sing (or play) the blues? Well Peter Green sure could, and Jo-Ann Kelly, and Elvis is just alright with me.

When there were a lot of white suburban kids trying to talk all rap and ghetto I thought they were just dufuses, they were buying massive amounts of anything 'gangsta' and Eminem rhyming me with me and me (genius) while I was more quietly digging De La Soul, Shinehead and The Fugees. I really think a lot of those white kids were ashamed to be white in some sense, but it wasn't because of a slanted education system like these southern crackers invading PTAs lately go on about, it's just they got information and felt genuinely stupid. So their rebellion as well as their news was going to be NWA or Public Enemy!

I reserve the right to dig all music and all writings be they spiritual or not. It may be the omnivores will survive! That entails not limiting yourself with one transiently 'cool' identity. So while I was around for the last gasps of 'punk' I was never the truest of the truly true punks (which is a guy advertising in prison for a certain kind of attention when you come down to it) like people younger than myself sometimes will pose as, and yet I admired and will promote the positive 'do it yourself' ethos that came back with it! I loved the ska revival that followed, and like those white people in Blondie I became aware of rap (derived from ska and reggae DJs 'toasting' with a not quite as early assist from the Chic group beats) and why couldn't I dig DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash with his message?

White girls wanna be black? This is something different from all the white boys out in the safe suburbs in baggy shorts and backwards baseball caps flashing gang signs and tagging buildings? Well, it might be a lot more positive. If we all did blood tests would we find out how few purely white people there are? You'd think we'd be over this by now... acting is acting whether Bob Dylan started out pretending to be Woody Guthrie or Barry Smith started out pretending he was Jack Kirby. It's probably 'just a phase' anyway! :^D
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Owen Glowacki
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Posted: 18 October 2021 at 1:52pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I wouldn't say explicit deception is typically a part of 'blackfishing.' There are outlying cases, like the Rachel Dolezal case linked above where she identified as black and held a position in the NAACP. In most cases for incluencers, women are just taking on more typically black aestetics, including fuller lips, darker skin, darker and curlier hair, etc. 

I think people get upset in some of these cases because it remindes them of black face, which we all generally consider to be racist. I don't think 'blackfishing' merits this comparison as it is usually a sustained attempt to genuinely partake in a more black look. It isn't an attempt to mock, costume, or stereotype black people. The similarities between the two make people uncomfortable, though. You'll find a reference to black face in most articles about blackfishing. 
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 18 October 2021 at 2:37pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Do they talk 'ebonics' or 'gangsta'? I find that pretty much just lame, like a fake accent (there are a lot of Nigel Tufnels out there still).
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