The Blaccent & Blackfishing in Music

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The subject of the cultural appropriation of black culture by non-black people has been a particularly prevalent narrative in recent years.

  • Blackfishing is a term used to define when an individual modifies their appearance through makeup, tanning methods, fillers or appropriating cultural clothes or hairstyles in order to appear black.
  • Many celebrities have been accused of blackfishing: the Kardashian family, who triggered the global “Brazilian Butt Lift” trend and celebrities like Rita Ora and Jesy Nelson have come under fire.
  • The latest facet of blackfishing that has drawn controversy is the “blaccent. Blaccent is used to refer to a non-black person imitating black English or African-American Vernacular English.
  • Celebrities such as Billie Eilish, Miley Cyrus and most recently actress Nora Lum, who goes by the name of Awkwafina, have all come under fire for adopting a blaccent.
  • It has been suggested that celebrities use the blaccent to further their career, taking the elements from black culture which suit them.
  • Conversely, linguist John McWhorter argues that for centuries certain languages have taken words and turns of phrase from other languages. He argues English is a living and evolving language.
Articles from 4 publishers

4 articles on this topic

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Following Awkwafina’s non-apology, here are 4 other non-black celebrities who spoke with a blaccent

7 min read
Huffington Post

What is Blackfishing And Why Is It Problematic For Black Women?

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6 min read
The Conversation

What is cultural appropriation, and how does it differ from cultural appreciation?

1 min read
Big Think

Was Elvis Presley a cultural appropriator of black music?

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4 min read