As an avid gif user, this article struck me as extremely important:
We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in Reaction GIFs
By Lauren Michele Jackson.
If there’s one thing the Internet thrives on, it’s hyperbole and the overrepresentation of black people in GIFing everyone’s daily crises plays up enduring perceptions and stereotypes about black expression. And when nonblack users flock to these images, they are playacting within those stereotypes in a manner reminiscent of an unsavory American tradition. Reaction GIFs are mostly frivolous and fun. But when black people are the go-to choice for nonblack users to act out their most hyperbolic emotions, do reaction GIFs become “digital blackface”?
"It's an implication that points toward a strange way of thinking: When we do nothing, we’re doing something, and when we do anything, our behavior is considered 'extreme.'"
I have thought of my gif use on this blog and on Tumblr in terms of race before. First because I didn't want to accidentally trick someone into thinking I was black, possibly giving black readers the impression that I was safer on race issues than I am. I mean, I try my best, but I'm still white.
At the same time, I don't want to use only gifs of white people. I want diverse representation in my reaction gifs. I've tried to create a balance, but have also wondered if certain gifs I've found are perpetuating certain stereotypes. I'm so grateful that Lauren Michele Jackson wrote on this issue, because now I feel like I have a deeper understanding of the impact of the use of gifs featuring black people. I can keep this in mind when choosing gifs. I love being able to be more considerate and avoid doing harm in my everyday work.
You know who's really good for exaggerated emotion? Jim Carrey. If you can get past the problems in some of his movies. Looking at you, Ace Ventura.