Oprah Winfrey memes dubbed ‘digital blackface’ after epic Meghan and Harry interview

Social media users are being warned not to share Oprah reaction memes from her historic chat with the former Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as theyre engaging in digital blackface.While most of us were preoccupied with Harry and Meghan’s major tea spilling session, social media users were busy responding in their favourite way: with a meme frenzy.
As countless memes and GIFs began flood social feeds after the couple’s interview aired, human rights and social justice group The Slow Factory thought it relevant to remind people what performing digital blackface looks like.
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“Since the #MeghanandHarry interview on Oprah, we’ve been seeing a lot of digital blackface infractions with a few of Oprah’s reaction gifs and images going viral, but that doesn’t mean you should be using them,” the group shared on Instagram.
After defining the term digital blackface, the group went on to explain why circulating such memes can be damaging.
“While seemingly harmless, the problem with digital blackface is that it often reinforces negative stereotypes about Black folks such as they’re aggressive, loud, sassy, and simply here for your consumption and entertainment,” they wrote.
Some users had an overwhelmingly positive response to the post, thanking the group for educating the masses.
“I felt strongly about this subject, but never knew how to explain what it is or that it’s wrong, inside myself or to others. Thank you so much for giving me better context to understand this,” one user commented.
“I will do better, thank you for educating me on this,” added another. The group included not just Oprah reaction memes but also the use of emojis with the skin tone changes.
It’s not the first time the group has shared educational posts about the depth and layers of racism in order to address and tackle it at every level.
Others were quick to challenge their view, saying “So does this mean that as a black woman I shouldn’t use memes and gifs of white or other non-black people?”
Another added, “Reaction pictures/gifs and memes are universal and are certainly not a part of “digital blackface”??? I feel like that’s extremely divisive. People use reaction pictures of those of another race all the time and I don’t see how it’s harmful?” Her comment got 208 likes.
“Whoever came up with this … you doin Tooooooooo much! Stop!” a third user chimed in.
Despite the fact that it was posted publicly, the comments were limited – presumably to weed out racist messages.
Meghan and Harry’s explosive interview was met with the perfect reactions from Oprah, after which the internet was flooded with memes.
While the post sparked a fierce debate about racism and online practices, some argued that it deflected from the real issues at hand, such as blackface and cultural appropriation.
“Blackface is a violent and harmful representation of black people rooted in violence. Using a gif of Oprah is NOT blackface. That is such a gross misnomer and false equivalency,” one person commented.
Another added, “Can we just try to heal from all the racial trauma that has impacted all people before we start trying to police how people use gifs and emoticons? I’m sure this can be a part [of] the process, but it’s really a leap.”
What do you think? Are these memes the latest form of digital blackface?
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