Instagram is good for many things, but trolling. And it has gotten so bad that some people even receive death threats on the platform. Two Instagram influencers, today, fear for their lives… All for what? Blackfishing! This is when “white” people try to come off as “black” people, formally known as culture appropriation.
20-year old Alicja Brzostowska has been threatened for blackfishing
Culture appropriation is usually seen as a bad thing. It is when someone adopts something from a culture that is not his or her own – a hairstyle, a piece of clothing, a manner of speaking, even a type of exercise (yoga, for example). Sometimes, it is seen as “modern day colonialism”. And in recent times, it has been a topic of discussion. So much so that people get attacked for it. Unfortunately, this time, Alicja is on the receiving end of the attack.
First, she received vile comments warning her to “stay white”, after pictures of her wearing braids and with tanned skin were posted on Twitter, next to one of her as a lighter-skinned 13-year-old.
Then, it followed with people telling her to kill herself.
“I know I haven’t done anything wrong. But to have 200 people telling you you’re dumb and you need to commit suicide, on the first day I was scared to leave the house,” she said.
“I thought people would be like ‘she’s blackfishing, let’s throw acid at her’.”
Brzostowska, is however of Polish descent and as well an Indian ancestry. Therefore, it comes as no surprise for her to have such naturally “olive” skin and dark hair.
She admits, though, to tanning a shade darker in the photo and her braids were just to support a friend’s business.
Then there’s the Emma Hallberg situation
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So Instagram users have accused Swedish beauty/style influencer Emma Hallberg for ‘pretending’ to be black, in order to attract a larger follower base. According to them, she uses tans, hair pieces and other makeup products to make herself come off as a black woman. Initially, they would praise Emma for having a unique, exotic look.
But now, a photo emerged online where Emma seemed “lighter”, and it looks like they’re not buying it anymore. Angry users started to debate about her looks in her IG comments section. Soon enough, it got to Twitter.
“She’s clearly not Swedish beyond her nationality,” one follower said. “No, bc she’s changing her skin colour, the lips are overdrawn & as a whole she looks different. AND she’s acting like oh who me? No I wasn’t doing anything. These people want to pick & choose parts of someone’s identity & culture, act naive & then don’t speak up for poc rights,” another argued.
“If you don’t understand the history of blackface and how it’s dehumanizing, you should stop while you’re ahead bc you sound dense right now. 2) the problem is she is praised and get’s tens of thousands of likes for looking ethnic, mixed, exotic, etc whereas ACTUAL black women are constantly told that our own features are ugly on us,” an angrier one added.
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Things on the platform got so heated that Emma had to clarify
“I do not see myself as anything else than white,” Emma explains to Buzzfeed. “I get a deep tan naturally from the sun.”
“The only difference is that I didn’t post as many pictures that summer compared to this summer, because I didn’t have as many followers then as I do now”, she added.
However however, her 200,000 followers were still not budging.
“She’s saying that she never claimed to b black, YET she never confronted nor corrected anyone who claimed she was black. girl baiii”, one teased. “Can we start a thread and post all of the white girls cosplaying as black women on Instagram? Let’s air them out because this is ALARMING” another said, in a way to start a debate.
Instagram Stars receive death threats for ‘blackfishing’
It is worthy to note that debates about culture appropriation began with the Kardashian-Jenner family. When Kim and Kylie adopted braids and cornrows, well all hell broke loose on Instagram.
But do you think it is an issue? Leave comments below.