OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk appears to have finally gotten his fill of CNN after the network published an “analysis” about whites who post GIFs and memes featuring black people.
“If you’re White and you’ve posted a GIF or meme of a Black person to express a strong emotion, you may be guilty of wearing ‘digital blackface,'” said CNN in a tweet summarizing the analysis by John Blake, who is black.
"If you're White and you've posted a GIF or meme of a Black person to express a strong emotion, you may be guilty of wearing 'digital blackface,'" writes John Blake | Analysis https://t.co/KlHkWWHq6x
— CNN (@CNN) March 26, 2023
He noted in his piece:
Maybe you shared that viral video of Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins telling a reporter after narrowly escaping an apartment fire, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Perhaps you posted that meme of supermodel Tyra Banks exploding in anger on “America’s Next Top Model” (“I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!”). Or maybe you’ve simply posted popular GIFs, such as the one of NBA great Michael Jordan crying, or of drag queen RuPaul declaring, “Guuuurl…”
If you’re Black and you’ve shared such images online, you get a pass. But if you’re White, you may have inadvertently perpetuated one of the most insidious forms of contemporary racism. You may be wearing “digital blackface.”
Blake also referenced a piece for Teen Vogue by Lauren Michele Jackson, an assistant professor of English at Northwestern University and a contributing writer at The New Yorker. She claimed that there is a trend on the Internet where white people find humor in exaggerated displays of blackness, perpetuating the harmful notion that black people are inherently over-the-top or “walking hyperbole.”
If you’re still not sure how to define digital blackface, Jackson offers a guide. She says it “includes displays of emotion stereotyped as excessive: so happy, so sassy, so ghetto, so loud… our dial is on 10 all the time — rarely are black characters afforded subtle traits or feelings.”
Twitter users wasted no time in blasting both the author, Blake, and CNN in general for publishing the piece.
“Sorry white people, CNN says u can’t post GIFs of black people anymore,” noted the Hodge twins, who are also black, on Twitter, along with a LOL emoji.
Sorry white people, CNN says u can’t post GIFs of black people anymore 🤣 pic.twitter.com/qGzGQVcgo0
— Hodgetwins (@hodgetwins) March 26, 2023
Musk also got in on the critique. He responded with a “100” percent emoji to a user who reacted to CNN’s post: “jesus f**king christ shut the f**k up.”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 26, 2023
In addition, several Twitter users also mocked CNN’s post with GIFs and memes featuring black people.
— Sol🎬 (@Solmemes1) March 26, 2023
Though CNN boss Chris Licht claimed when he took over as network boss last year that he was going to try and shift the outlet more towards a middle-of-the-road political and cultural slant in order to appeal to a broader audience, so far, at least, that shift hasn’t taken place, at least on a noticeable scale.
That was evident over the weekend when host Jake Tapper was interviewing House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, regarding the potential indictment of former President Donald Trump by the Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg.
“You just wrote a new letter to Manhattan DA Bragg defending your decision to investigate his office, saying that you’re considering taking legislative action to prevent presidents from — quote – ‘politically motivated prosecutions,'” Tapper began during one portion of the segment.
“As of right now, of course, Trump has not been charged with anything. What do you say to Bragg, who says you’re trying to stop a charge from happening even before you know of any evidence?” the host asked.
“Well, what the DA is trying to say is what you just quoted. He said, stay out of local investigations,” Comer responded.
“The problem with that is, this is not a local investigation. This is a federal investigation. He’s investigating a presidential candidate, not to mention former president of the United States, for a federal election crime.
“That has no business being litigated in a local district attorney’s office,” he said.
“Well, he’s investigating, as I understand it, potential violations of state crimes,” Tapper said.
“Even at that, look, let’s just be honest here,” Comer reacted.
“I mean, this is about politics. This is a presidential candidate. When you look at what we believe the role of the Manhattan DA should be is to fight crime. I mean, that’s one of the biggest issues in New York. We saw that in the midterm elections last November,” he noted further.