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Instagram influencers under fire for using blackface in ‘solidarity’ with Black Lives Matter

PETALING JAYA — Instagram influencers around the world have been harnessing their online platforms to spread awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Blackface originated from minstrel shows that were widely popular in the US before slavery was abolished.

Blackface originated from minstrel shows that were widely popular in the US before slavery was abolished.

PETALING JAYA — Instagram influencers around the world have been harnessing their online platforms to spread awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Some public figures, however, have completely missed the mark by sporting blackface in an attempt to “support” the fight against racism and police brutality.

Syrian socio-political artist and activist Saint Hoax recently drew attention to popular Instagrammers who have been using blackface to express solidarity while possibly being unaware of its painful and racist origins.

Among those called out were Lebanese singer-songwriter Tania Saleh, who shared an image of her face edited onto a black woman’s body with an afro hairstyle, and Croatian TV host Hana Hadziavdagic Tabakovic, who used makeup to darken her skin tone while calling on people to stand against racism.

Lebanese singer-songwriter Tania Saleh wrote that she "wished (she) was black" in the caption accompanying her edited image. Photo: taniasaleh/Instagram

Indian artist Rahmi Zurail Mann also received flak for painting her face black in an Instagram video titled, “The makeup tutorial we need today #blm” which has since been deleted from her page.

Saint Hoax criticised the influencers for not educating themselves properly before posting about Black Lives Matter on their social media.

"Even after receiving backlash, some are still refusing to take down their posts.

"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,” wrote Saint Hoax.

Blackface's roots can be traced back to minstrel performances, an American form of entertainment that gained popularity in the 19th century.

White performers would paint themselves black to portray people of African descent while perpetuating negative stereotypes that depicted them as lazy, unintelligent, superstitious, criminal, hypersexual, and buffoonish.

Minstrel shows largely died out after the US civil rights movement in the 1960s but blackface and brownface still occur in various parts of the world today.

In 2017, Watsons Malaysia came under fire for its Hari Raya advertisement about a wealthy prince who rejected a woman’s love because of her dark skin.

The actress’ face had been painted black for the role and she was portrayed as unattractive due to her skin tone.

Malaysian TV show MeleTOP was also slammed in 2016 for featuring a comedian in blackface while parodying Malaysian artist Yuna and American singer Usher performing their song Crush.

The Black Lives Matter movement has put pressure on public figures and companies to evaluate their stance on racial issues, with some activists calling out celebrities for donning blackface in the past.

Late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon recently apologised for a Saturday Night Live comedy sketch from 2000 in which he darkened his skin to impersonate African American actor Chris Rock.

Conversation has also reignited over Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who was exposed last year for wearing brownface at an Arabian Nights-themed party in 2001.

Meanwhile, Netflix has pulled the British TV shows The Mighty Boosh and The League of Gentlemen from their platform due to their use of blackface.

Comedy sketch show Little Britain has also been axed from Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Britbox after critics blasted actors David Walliams and Matt Lucas for dressing up as black women on the series. MALAY MAIL

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#blacklivesmatter influencers blackface Instagram

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