The term “Blackfishing” is applied when someone of “European descent (or white) utilizes artificial tanning and/or makeup to manipulate facial features in order to appear to have some type of Black African ancestry”, as per Urban Dictionary. In simpler terms, it’s pretty much somebody who’s not Black trying to look Black. First coined and popularized by a journalist by the name of Wanna Thompson, recent years have seen quite a few celebrities and social media influencers have been accused of Blackfishing. Thanks to rapper Iggy Azalea’s latest musical offering, she’s now feeling the heat from accusations, mainly from “Black Twitter.”
As the saying goes, “Everyone wants our rhythm, no one wants our blues.” It is often seen by many who often use these looks for the sake of “likes” and followers on social media, while never seeming to give credit where credit is rightfully due. Frequent “offender” Kim Kardashian is often accused by many of being a cultural appropriator and for Blackfishing. She, along with her sisters, will unashamedly post photos with braids, darker skin tones than usual, or other things known to be made popular from Black culture.
Other prominent figures who have been commonly accused of Blackfishing have been Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, and Rita Ora, for example. Various Instagram and TikTok influencers have also been called out for their noticeable changes that were heavily influenced by Hip-Hop and African-American cultures.
Perhaps former NAACP Spokane, Washington chapter president Rachel Dolezal walked so that others could run? Either way, many of these figures bring forth apologies or explanations for the behavior after being called out (sometimes just to turn around and eventually repeat the ongoing cycle). Others, simply choose not to respond.
Other notable white women of color 😂 pic.twitter.com/JEvCMqDmP3— Meron (@M_3rcy) July 2, 2021
So why do it? What’s the reason? Ayanna Thompson, the author of the book Blackface, shared in an interview with Time that it all has to do with “privilege” in a nutshell while the harmful act can strategically place Black women at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to beauty standards.
“It makes beauty standards adhere to whiteness even more closely,” Thompson stated. “Because it’s like, ‘She’s so beautiful, because she’s white, even when she puts on the Blackface.’ It leaves Black women at the lowest rung of desirability. What’s the most desirable thing: a beautiful white woman who can look beautiful even when she’s trying to look Black?”
She continued, “There’s a reason why they’ve done this and why they have made money on this. That’s the ultimate power of whiteness, right? That I can like these things, which we may want to denigrate, but I don’t have to stay there. I get to come back to the safety of whiteness.”
The latest to unintentionally (according to her) stir the debate once again is rapper Iggy Azalea. Normally known for rocking blonde tresses, Azalea can be seen in the music video for her latest single from her upcoming End of an Era album “I Am The Strip Club” with much darker (seemingly jet black) hair and what many on social media are labeling a darker skin tone.
Quite a percentage of “Black Twitter” became offended by the release of her visual and denounced the rapper on social media with Blackfishing accusations. “Don’t act like she didn’t learn from Ariana Grande and Rachel Dolezal. But Iggy Azalea and Blackfishing is no surprise,” tweeted one user. Another wrote, Can someone please tell #IggyAzalea that she’s not a person of color ?? Stop Blackfishing it’s very discriminatory and vulgar especially in this BLM era !!!”
The video and a few fan reactions below.
Wow, Iggy Azalea is really out here blackfishing 😳🤦🏾♀️ pic.twitter.com/9d7DMukAlN— Jane (@Djanego2) July 5, 2021
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but @IGGYAZALEA is an Australian white woman born in Sydney to white parents and really looks like this. #iamthestripclub #blackfishing #IggyAzalea pic.twitter.com/IIuciusnOm— Sarah Bartolo (@sarahtbartolo) July 3, 2021
You are telling me that THIS is Iggy Azalea? When will the blackfishing cease? When. https://t.co/kt2eXtPJSB— bb-ace (@kandacesays) July 2, 2021
white woman of color https://t.co/yMnnV0FKZ2— mundinho bota puere (@miran__ds) July 2, 2021
Following the backlash, Iggy took to Twitter to fire off some steam in response to the backlash. “I know by now if I drop a video or song someone online will try and make it have a hidden meaning or find a way to make there be an issue,” she responded to a fan. “That’s just how the internet is! I’m 10 years deep in it, you cannot shake me.”
Responding to another fan she wrote,” I can’t care about something that ridiculous and baseless. I’m wearing a shade 6 in [Armani] foundation, it’s the same shade I’ve worn for the last 3 years. It’s the same shade in every music video since Sally Walker. Suddenly I wear a black wig in a club scene & it’s an issue.”
I don’t see an issue with— IGGY AZALEA (@IGGYAZALEA) July 3, 2021
Sally Walker, started, fuck it up,
Sip it, Brazil or any other look in this music video being spoken about in that way.
It’s the same fondation, so anyone who wants to reach can go ahead – y’all (weirdos online to clarify) love to do that, continue!
The rapper also shared a picture of the makeup that she claims to use saying, “This is the color I wear, it’s on the arm color of a tan white person. I’m not wearing crazy dark makeup at ALL. Everyone in the club scene looks darker,” she stated. “It’s a club scene! I’m sick of ppl trying to twist my words or make shit a problem when all I’ve done is try a hair color.”
Later, she expressed gratitude to those fans who were supporting the release of her latest musical offering. “To everyone showing me love: Thankyou for dedicating your day to me & helping me promote, I love you! To everyone showing me hate: Thankyou for dedicating your day to me & helping me promote, I love you!” she tweeted.