Blackfishing is a term used to describe the act of someone, typically a non black person, altering their physical appearance to make themselves appear Black or racially ambiguous, often through the use of makeup, hair products, and tanning. This term was coined as a way to call out the appropriation of Black culture and the exploitation of the physical features of Black people for personal gain.
It gained widespread attention on social media in the mid-2010s, particularly on platforms like Instagram, where individuals were accused of using Black aesthetics to gain more followers and become more popular.
When were talking about Consumer Packaged Goods we expand into the realm and the Tricky business of Corporate Blackfishing.
Corporate Blackfishing is an extension of the Blackfishing phenomenon that involves companies and brands exploiting the aesthetics and symbolism of Black culture for their financial gain, without making meaningful contributions to addressing systemic racial inequality.
This insidious practice is driven by the desire to tap into the perceived coolness and marketability of Blackness without a genuine commitment to social change.
Companies engaging in Corporate Blackfishing often tokenize Black culture, using it as a trendy marketing tool to appear socially conscious and inclusive. They may use imagery, language, or even collaborations with Black influencers or artists to appeal to diverse audiences. However, behind the facade of inclusion lies a lack of authentic representation and a failure to address the systemic issues that disproportionately affect Black communities.
Corporate Blackfishing is harmful for several reasons. First, it trivializes the struggles faced by Black individuals and communities by using their experiences as a marketing ploy. Second, it perpetuates stereotypes and reinforces the idea that Black culture is only valuable when commodified by non-Black entities. Third, it diverts attention from the need for genuine systemic change and social justice, providing a convenient distraction from addressing racial inequalities.
By co-opting the symbols and aesthetics of Blackness without making substantive commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion, companies engage in performative allyship. This can lead to skepticism and disillusionment among consumers, particularly those from marginalized communities who see through the empty gestures.
To combat Corporate Blackfishing, consumers play a pivotal role by demanding accountability and transparency from brands. Supporting companies that authentically engage with and uplift Black communities while advocating for systematic change can promote a more equitable and just business landscape. By recognizing the harmful impact of Corporate Blackfishing, individuals and communities can hold companies accountable and push for genuine progress toward dismantling systemic racism.