On election night, while the nation waited with bated breath over poll results, Twitter user, Dee (@yeahboutella) shared a series of Instagram screenshots on Twitter regarding their dismay and shock over a white woman outed for being white. Now you may be asking yourself how is someone is outed regarding race in 2018 and especially as white? Evidently, a Swedish white woman Emma Hallberg, who goes by the username @eemmahallberg on Instagram, was accused of sleeping with braids to give her hair a fuller and more textured look, spray tanning her skin until it was five or six shades darker, and using foundation to deepen the appearance of her skin.These white women are physically altering themselves to look like mixed-raced women of African descent for social and monetary capital. Click To Tweet
Replies to Dee’s thread consisted of equally shocked Twitter users, and one tweet even featured a stark contrast between @eemmahallberg’s appearance in 2016 and 2018. Another tweet revealed a shot of her Youtube video showing the disparity between her darker foundation and her naturally fairer skin. Writer Wanna (@WannasWorld) who has masterfully framed Black women in the hood and their direct influence on fashion, asked her followers to add more women like Hallberg, who essentially cosplay racially ambiguous mixed-race women of African descent to showcase the Instagram phenomenon. Moreover, she brilliantly highlighted it as a “ni**erfishing epidemic.” Replies flooded Wanna’s tweet and even prompted accounts dedicated to exhibiting what can only be described as something along the lines of racist body dysmorphia.
So what is the issue here besides the complete absurdity of it all? Well, for one, there are multiple issues with this. Let’s look at the most obvious: these white women are physically altering themselves to look like mixed-raced women of African descent for social and monetary capital.
Due to the vigorous erasure of unambiguous Black women in mass media, the market for mixed-raced and racially ambiguous women has skyrocketed. To illustrate this point Black women’s representation drastically shifted from the Afrocentric look in the 1990s to what we have seen and continue to see in contemporary eras of the 2000s and 2010s, which is a more “universally appealing” look generally found in women who are not monoracially Black. The abundance of Black women who cannot be cosplayed by white women such: members of En Vogue, Blaque, Brownstone, SWV; Brandy, Lauryn Hill, Tatyana Ali, and Nia Long dwindled in preference to: Zendaya, Kehlani, Alexandra Shipp, Amandla Stenberg, Jhene Aiko, Cassie, Yara Shahidi, and Cardi B.
The high demand for women with features that are Black enough to provide the exoticism and white enough to appeal and provide accessibility to white women created the space for literal imposters — or ni**afishes. ‘The look,’ popularly known as ‘Instagram Baddie,’ relies on Black women as its foundation, but because Blackness fails white beauty standards it has to be adequately removed from Blackness to appeal to white women. The Instagram Baddie aesthetic for non-Black women results in more likes on social media which operates as social currency thus inadvertently; however, more times than not, intentionally garners recognition from beauty corporations invested in exploiting the insecurities of women for profit.The high demand for women with features that are Black enough to provide the exoticism and white enough to appeal and provide accessibility to white women created the space for literal imposters — or ni**afishes. Click To Tweet
Brands reach out to non-Black Instagram baddies, at remarkably higher rates than the Black women whose looks create the foundation for the aesthetic. These corporations provide the “universally appealing” women with lucrative opportunities such as brand ambassadorships; all expense paid trips, advertising deals, and free products. The business becomes cyclical: white and non-Black women alter their appearance to become ‘Instagram Baddies,’ they gain social validation through likes which subsequently increases financial profits on both the woman and brands side, and it reinforces a beauty standard at the ironic exclusion of Black women.
Disappointingly, because the Black folks — en mass — continue to uphold and adhere to the racist one-drop rule, racially ambiguous mixed-race women are seen as Black although their sociopolitical and economic experiences are measurably different in comparison to Black women. The differences between the two groups of women is an iteration of the colonial three caste system in Southern Louisiana, a part of U.S. history that isn’t as widely interrogated as it should be although it set a precedent for colorism the United States.
Now, in the modern-age, racial ambiguity has afforded mixed-raced, and consequently white women, the privilege of trapezing a broader demographic. For whites and non-Black people of color Instagram baddies are ‘exotic,’ and to Blacks, these women are still seen as Black because there may be a little bit of Black in them, even when it turns out there isn’t any at all. This more expansive demographic translates to higher opportunities for marketability and monetary profit because diverse groups of people will consume the image of these women more favorably.
The preeminent non-Black women to ni**erfish in the contemporary era are the Kardashian-Jenners. They may not have been duped the public into believing that they are Black; however, they tap into Black women’s aesthetic for their marketability as well as steady proximity to Blackness by way of their male partners and high-profile Black women friends. It is not by chance that Kim and her family have dominated ‘urban’ blogs like Bossip and The Shade Room and have become household names among Black America in comparison to other non-Black and white celebrities like a Sofía Vergara or Jennifer Lawrence who are also positioned as standards of beauty.
Rapper and ex-boyfriend of the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner klan, Kylie, recently spoke about the deliberate efforts the Kardashians make in co-opting Blackness. Regarding Kylie’s drastic shift from ordinary white girl to an Instagram baddie, he said, “you gotta look at the before and after. She always had a platform, and she was always destined to be what she was going to be regardless, but, when I stepped in, there was a lot of codes being taught.” By codes it can be inferred he means Black codes, presumably the way Black women pose in pictures, dress, and wear their hair and makeup. He followed up by saying “…it was like, you could do this, you should start this, you should start doing your hair like this, you should add that because you need black people to f— with you…” “…if you ain’t got Black people behind you, you ain’t got nothing.”
It was one thing for the Kardashian-Jenner family to satisfy the Black Male Gaze but by donning the entire custom of racial ambiguity and signaling cues of Blackness is how they fascinated the community as a whole. Their shape-shifting allowed them to not only sell their products to white women desperate to look more interesting, seen in the timing of Kylie’s lip kits and her lip filler debacle but also to Black women who also aspire to attain a look that receives widespread approval, particularly from Black men.
A hard truth in this trend is the complicity of Black people. As Tyga truthfully articulated, “…if you ain’t got Black people behind you, you ain’t got nothing.” There has to be a substantial investment in racially ambiguous mixed-race women and an affirmation of their Blackness even when it is not being asked for by them in order for them to pull the con off.
For Black men, their internalize anti-Black racism is projected through implicit and explicit violence against Black women. They shame and vilify Black features and characteristics on Black women with colorism and featurism yet praise and seek out white and non-Black women who have transformed themselves into caricatures of Black women. Moreover, because they are still men, the act of women contorting themselves to appease them is an added ego-boost. Partnering and creating progeny with these women ultimately fulfill their white male penis envy and erases the parts (or entirety) of Blackness they wish did not exist in themselves.
For Black women, their participation in the elevation of these women is a more woeful tale. Because they desire to be desired by Black men they follow whom they see appealing to Black men. Because patriarchal domination transcends sexual orientation, the desire is not solely based in cisheteronormativity but rather the general oppression of women. Their added media erasure — which has not yet happened to Black men — creates a void in healthy self-esteem building. Thus, allowing for any representation no matter how fictitious to serve their need to be seen and affirmed. Capitalism, racism, and patriarchy become the driving forces that create the environment for Black women become reliable and loyal consumers for racially ambiguous mixed-raced women and now white women who advance their erasure and sell their image back to them.
So, yes the ni**erfishing trend is ridiculous, and the name — coming from a Black woman — may make you let out a hearty chuckle, but the implications are dire. Not only have mixed-race women replaced Black women in spaces designated for them thanks to the one-drop rule but because of their easily mimicable features, white women and non-Black can now take up space and opportunities that were already hard for Black women to access and now make it all but impossible for Black women to do so. More importantly, outside of the monetary and social capital, the diet blackface only further complicates an already complex sense of self among Black women. Unlike women like Hallberg, Black women’s race-based body dysmorphia has not and is not met with light-hearted Twitter jokes or compassion but instead vitriolic shaming and silencing. Since social capital, in this case, is controlled by users of social media platforms, shifting your following and likes to unambiguous Black women is an excellent starting point to remedy the damage caused by ‘ni**afishes.’
Offset: “Take Me Back” is Not an Apology
Just as Cardi B was beginning her headlining act at the Rolling Loud festival, Offset interrupted her. Wheeling out $15,000 worth of Venus Et Fleur roses stating “Take Me Back Cardi”, Offset told her to forgive him.
Unfortunately, “Take Me Back Cardi” is not an apology. It’s a command.
Facilitated by Cardi’s publicist, Patience, the roses were delivered same day after 8 people assembled it in time for the show. While no one is sure if Offset or Cardi’s publicist made the call, one thing is certain. Patience knew about the plan and allowed it to happen. Performing at Rolling Loud as the first woman to headline the event, Cardi’s moment in the sun is forever tarnished with the appearance of her lecherous husband.
Concertgoers watched the nearly two-minute long interruption as Cardi stood awkwardly, disappointed that her husband had disrupted her show. Saying, “I’m sorry, bruh” and attempting to apologize, Offset reached in for a kiss only to be rebuffed. And rightfully so. Imagine blocking someone, getting a new phone and number, only to be confronted by your abuser on a world stage. The audacity!
The festival facilitated the hijacking of Cardi B’s set by a man whose only concern is himself. Do not show up at my job trying to work out our personal biz. This is selfish, the mngmt was unprofessional & I hope there is legal action Cardi can take. Also delete this tweet. https://t.co/H26GXVgtzY
— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) December 16, 2018
Offset deliberately chose a career-defining moment to usurp. Using textbook examples of emotional manipulation, Offset selfishly made his demands. His gesture ignores clear boundaries, giving Cardi no space or time to process her decision to step away from their marriage. Just one day ahead of her performance, Offset made a plea centered on his birthday, asking for his wife back. Everything about it stunk of egocentricity.
Offset’s apology is rooted in guilt-bait tactics. By mentioning their daughter and manipulating facts of his infidelity, Offset attempted to tug at Cardi’s heartstrings. But the gesture was full of possessive language and contained no consideration for her wishes.
At this moment, Cardi is more than surely faced with unwarranted opinions on what she should do. But the reason so many people are invested in whether she takes this man back is that we have been there and seen the benefit of independence. After bungling her performance, it’s easy to see why so many people want her to sign those papers.
Do you think Offset has learned his lesson? Do you think this is all a publicity stunt on the heels of his album release?
Johnson and Johnson Knew Baby Powder Problems All Along
Johnson and Johnson were unmasked for deceiving millions of consumers for decades. After a $4.69 billion lawsuit, Reuters says the corporation knew its dangers all along.
An investigation by Reuters produced documents proving J&J knew their baby powder contained asbestos. Going as far back as 1957, documents show the Italian sourced talc was sent to an Ohio lab for study. Under the guise of improving the physical properties of the talc, a one-kilogram sample was submitted for testing. Comprised of weekly collections taken from the conveyor of a New Jersey processing plant, amphiboles, a type of asbestos, were found in its contents.
In its naturally occurring form, asbestos is described as fibrous and “acicular” or needle-like. With no mention of asbestos in the report, the study states J&J was only seeking to reduce the coarseness of their product. Still, testing of the company’s popular baby powder continued.
Results from 1972 to 1975 showed the company was aware of “rather high” levels of asbestos in the product. According to Reuters, J&J told an FDA regulator that no asbestos was “detected in any sample” produced between December 1972 to October 1973. Johnson and Johnson willingly omitted that at least three tests by three different labs reported asbestos was found.
Amidst 11,700 plaintiffs now holding the corporation responsible for their misrepresentation of the safety of baby powder, J&J stock is tumbling. Hoping to please their stockholders, Johnson and Johnson released a lengthy statement in their defense. Calling the piece “one-sided, false and inflammatory,” they protest baby powder is safe and asbestos free. Still, they lost nearly $40 billion of their stock’s market value upon Friday’s close.
With diseases like ovarian cancer and mesothelioma among the personal injury lawsuits, J&J may never recover. Right now, the corporation is embroiled in the opioid epidemic and has been battling lawsuits over baby powder since 2015. While J&J are attempting to repair their image, many do not believe they can trust the parent company. Their products spanning from baby to adult, many are now skeptical of what hides in their other offerings.
Will you be ditching Johnson and Johnson?
Seven Year Old Dies in Border Patrol Custody
In a devastating development, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl has died in the care of Border Patrol. Until autopsy results confirm her cause of death, Americans are left with more questions than answers.
A group of 163 migrants attempted to cross the border illegally and were then apprehended in New Mexico. Among them were the victim and her father. Shortly after their detainment, the group was transported to a facility in El Paso, Texas. It was there that the 7-year-old began having seizures within hours of being in Border Patrol custody. Claiming “Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child’s life”, the CBP is now under investigation.
Initially reported by The Washington Post, emergency responders measured her temperature at 105.7 Fahrenheit, just two degrees shy of incurring brain damage. A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency statement indicated the child “had not eaten or consumer water for several days”. Needing further care, emergency responders called for a helicopter transport to Providence Children’s Hospital, where the child went into cardiac arrest. She was “revived” but ultimately could not recover, passing at the hospital less than 24 hours after arriving for treatment.
Facing blame from the ACLU, CBP has been called out for a “lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty.” Offering nothing but their “sincerest condolences”, CBP will continue to draw the scrutiny of the public as this is the second death of a child in their care. A toddler passed six weeks after being released from an ICE facility. Having contracted a respiratory infection from receiving poor medical care, the toddler’s mother is not suing for the loss of her child.
Government officials have since spoken out about the tragedy. Beto O’Rourke has called for full transparency in the investigation of the child’s death. Congressman Joaquin Castro also asked for a full investigation by the Inspector General and Congress. Without autopsy results that could take weeks to receive, the country is talking about ways we can do better as a nation. As a country, we’re holding out hope we can rise from this humanitarian crisis.
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