Even as anti-racism protests continued to spread across the world following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, some of the digital 'protesters' participating in the discussion have drawn flak for putting on blackface makeup to support the cause of 'Black Lives Matter'.
White Instagram influencers from Eastern Europe and the Middle East are being called out for darkening their skin colour using makeup to resemble the skin tones of people of colour before posting the photos online to protest against racism under the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.
A post by made by artist Souhila Ben Lachhab on Instagram featuring her with half a blackface went viral online last week. The artist from Algeria even wrote a problematic post stating, "Just because we are black on the outside, doesn’t mean that we are black on the inside. Racist people are the true black heart ones. They are black on the inside, though they do not know it".
Lacchab, however, was not the only one to sport black or brownface to support BLM, despite criticism. Singer Tania Saleh from Lebanon also took to Instagram to share an image of her in blackface makeup and Afro-style hair with a caption saying "I wish I was black".
Saleh went on to justify wish by claiming that she wanted to be black because all her "idols in music and dance are black, all the athletes I respect are black, even Bilal the first Muezzin in Islam was black". Saleh further posted, "I love their culture and respect their art, it is as simple as that. In this crazy world we are living in, it would be best not to defend or support any political movement from now on".
Other such posts by influencers and makeup artists have been flooding social media. Many of them were compiled on Instagram by Polish artist who goes by the handle "Sainthoax" on the platform.
The artist wrote a detailed post explaining the racist history of blackface and how it was used to mock black persons by putting dark pain on white faces. The practice was used by actors and minstrels of several countries in the 19th century such as England, the US and Belgium among others. Until recently, the controversial blackface was even used by popular actors and entertainers in the United States and UK. In the wake of the BLM protests against internalized and systemic racism, many such shows and films have been dropped.
"How can you “spread awareness” about a subject you know so little about? If you genuinely care about a cause, the least you can do is educate yourself about it," Polish artist Saintbrush wrote. "It’s infuriating that we still need to educate people about the racist and painful history of blackface.
We shouldn’t be having this conversation in 2020".
Needless to say, many on the internet including their fans commented on the posts. Some of the artists such as Tania Salah, however, have responded to the criticism and refused to take down the images despite getting "hate".
This is not the first instance where influencers have been called out for putting on blackface in solidarity with BLM. Earlier in June, a 16-year-old aspiring make-up Instagrammer on TikTok posted a "half-blackface" make-up tutorial.