Apparently there are white people going around trying to pose as black people in order to back up problematic ideas they support. Laur Jackson has described this as ‘digital blackface’ – using racist tropes in order to simulate blackness as an attempt at humour, or to prove a point.
Um, no. You’re a really fucking horrible person if you don’t realise why this is a shitty idea.
There are two major problems with this kind of behaviour online: it’s disingenuous and tries to manufacture support for things that actual black people would be unlikely to get behind, and it resorts to tired old stereotypes about black people and the way we talk and express ourselves.
If your ideas are valid enough and grounded in anti-racism, you shouldn’t have to manufacture black characters to agree with you. All you’re doing is being demeaning towards black people and using a terrible (and really fucking racist!) rhetorical device in order to try to prop up your argument. If you want to defend the damnably offensive idea that it’s acceptable to host a ‘feminist’ retreat on the site of a former slave plantation, then do it as yourself. It says volumes about these people’s character that they would go out of their way to create phoney profiles on Facebook and Twitter in order to argue in favour of actions that would be widely interpreted as racist.
There’s also the assumption that if you’re going to present as black online, you’ll have to be a walking minstrel-show stereotype in order to ‘keep it real’, when real black people’s speech and writing patterns are as nuanced as anybody else’s. We don’t all use AAVE (African American Vernacular English) on a regular basis. This applies both to black people outside the US and Black Americans who may have backgrounds that don’t really include the use of AAVE, primarily those of us who are first- and second-generation immigrants from the Caribbean or Africa. I don’t really use AAVE at all, because it’s just not part of my specific cultural background. And those of us who do use it use it in a way that’s a lot subtler than what the fake black posters I’ve been talking about do. Just because your character isn’t called Stepin Fetchit, Buckwheat, Amos or Andy doesn’t mean you’re not dragging out the same anti-black stereotypes that have persisted for years. I already feel super self-conscious for not using AAVE in either my speech or my writing, and white racists like this who think that using AAVE is required in order to seem authentically black really don’t help.
If you want to defend your noxious attitudes, don’t use phoney black shills to do it. At least you could be honest about your intentions.