‘You’re pretty for a Black girl’
‘You’ll get into the club no problem because you’re caramel, not black black’
‘But you don’t act black’
‘Go back to your country’
‘You’re not really black’
‘You’ll get a job quicker because you’re a mixed woman and they need to hit a quota’
These are just some of the comments that I have grown up with as a mixed race girl. I have grown up in a world where white boys used to ignore me because I was too dark and white girls would refer to my skin tone as a tan as if they were picking my ethnicity off a Duluxe colour chart. As a child, I wanted a nose job because I wanted my nose to be narrower like the celebrities I grew up watching, I have resented my mothers choice to have a black man’s child because I knew I was going to have to work harder than my white friends before I knew what a period was. I grew up in a world where all of my TV shows had zilch representation of ethnic minority; Friends, Sex and the City, Mean Girls, and the only Disney princess I could be was Jasmine, because despite her being Arabic it was the only ethnic representation that I could dress up as. Where the magazines I grew up with were in a whitewashed world where Black was not seen as beautiful or worth as much as whiteness.
This is why BlackFishing IS a problem and it should be talked about. The first thing I want to clarify IT IS NOT saying white women should not tan or have curly hair, fake tan is NOT black fishing. If that was the case then Trump is the biggest Blackfish of all. It is about Caucasian women, changing their appearance to the point of being racially ambiguous. Like every new issue of the week, there are people who are taking it too far, labelling the likes of Ariana Grande as a BlackFish perpetrator when the gal be glowing.
“Being Black is cool for everyone but Black people”
Furthermore, people who take Afro-Caribean influences with their style or music taste again are not blackfishing. Youtuber and Social Media influencer Mika Francis (shown below) has been accused of BlackFishing. I do not agree with this although I believe she may culturally appropriate black culture at times. Cultural Appropriation and BlackFishing are NOT the same. Cultural appropriation is ‘the adoption of elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture.’(Wikipedia). BlackFishing is more than elements, it is somebody posing as a black person.
It is a problem because they are working with brands and selling Bi-racial products and profiting off of sponsorships and partnerships that black women work their ass off not to get. Watching a White girl profit off of trying to be Black, is another example of society saying that Black women are still not good enough because they’ve used white women who play dress up instead of authentic black women. The same girls that called me ‘burnt toast’ are now blackening their faces and claiming that they’re ‘Ghetto’. Black people are still being randomly searched by police, turned away from clubs because they ‘don’t want trouble’, shot dead for reaching into their pockets for ID, not being recognised in history for doing the same thing as a white woman. People need to see it is wrong and the ‘influencers’ should accept responsibility and stop. By denying that this is wrong, you’re enabling girls like Emma Hallberg to get away with this nonsense. Yes, she never said she was black, but she also didn’t say she was white until this blackfishing story broke. She never corrected the many black women inspo pages that posted her caucasian ass and that’s the damn problem!
If you’re a 90’s/00’s girl, you would have probably seen Bring It On (the OG one with Kirsten Dunst). This film was calling out the white girls before throwback photos did it for us. Isis (played by the absolute queen that is Gabrielle Union), puts cultural appropriators in their place by calling out the known fact that white people like to Christopher Columbus black trends. Take afro-Carribean elements and pass it off as new, acting like it’s been discovered by them (The Kim K box braids scandal when white media claimed it as a ‘new trend’).
“Every time we get some, here Y’all come trying to steal, putting blonde hair on it and calling it something different.”
– Isis, Bring It On
The main girl that has sparked this debate is influencer Emma Hallberg, a girl that I had been following thinking she was a mixed race/light skin black woman. The girl is fully white and profiting off of posing as a bi-racial woman. Best believe I did my research. The foundation she uses in her youtube which is significantly darker than her natural face (not abnormal for a foundation to be a tad lighter or darker). Type in this specific shade into Youtube and what do you get? Makeup tutorials of women using the foundation, all of which are a light skin black or of middle eastern descent. The model on the Maybelline website as shown below again is of an ethnic minority. The proof that she is using a shade which was tailored for a non-caucasian woman is literally staring you in the face.
“I don’t do it maliciously to look black…I don’t think about it”
Aga needs to recognise the issue and that it is not right to portray herself as somebody else’ race. As a mixed race woman, I am well aware that I have ‘light-skin privilege’ and it is disgusting that in certain situations I will be treated better or get away with more than my full Jamaican black family members. I know that the word of a mixed-race woman who was raised by my white family in a predominantly white area will be viewed as more in the middle and objective than a dark-skinned black woman who is unapologetically black with the exact same opinion. I recognise that, and I want to use my position of a lighter black woman, to highlight the injustices that both bi-racial and black women have to deal with.
“Everybody wants our rhythm but you don’t want our blues”
-Loni Love on Blackfishing
My ethnicity is not a costume you can try on until you are bored. At the end of the day, when being black is no longer a ‘trend’, these white women can exfoliate their appropriation and return to using their white privilege. Rather than deny that they’re doing anything wrong and playing their ‘ignorant white girl card’, they have to own up, apologise and educate themselves on why what they are doing is so damaging. Learn from your mistake don’t sweep it under the rug and say that because ‘you didn’t realise’ it’s justified. Because mixed race and black women like me have told you why it is an issue and now you fucking know.