'El Negro de WhatsApp' meme, digital blackface, and racism on social media

  • Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández

Abstract

This paper explores how structural racism encodes itself into social media. Through the examination of a popular WhatsApp meme in Spain, I show how everyday socio-technical practices on this platform perpetuate power hierarchies based on race. As a first step, the paper links “El Negro de WhatsApp” meme with the long racist tradition of commodifying black bodies in American popular culture and beyond. Second, I argue that encrypted services like WhatsApp facilitate and amplify what Picca and Feagin (2007) refer to as the “backstage” of racism. The article concludes outlining the challenges of private, encrypted services if we are to dismantle ‘platformed racism’.

Author Biography

Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández

Lecturer in Digital Media in the School of Communication at the Queensland University of Technology, and member of the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC).

Published
2020-01-05
How to Cite
Matamoros-Fernández, A. (2020). ’El Negro de WhatsApp’ meme, digital blackface, and racism on social media. First Monday, 25(12). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v25i12.10420