Kanye West’s Face and White People

This week’s readings all revolved around the pertinent issue of race and how the concept has developed through online platforms in modern society. Race and racism has always been a touchy subject, but I feel like the Internet has definitely transformed the way both these subjects are presented in society. One particular way is through the integration of race and humor on social media and online activity. I remember stumbling upon this article, Kanye West’s Super Bowl Selfie Face Perfectly Captures How Everyone Feels About White People, that discusses infamous Kanye West’s Super Bowl selfie face in the context of race, overlaying his face on certain situations that are meant to poke fun at white people. One example:

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 1.16.54 AM

Obviously, these images are meant to provoke laughter. Senft and Noble, in their essay “Race and Social Media, bring up the SWGSBG video, the concept of micro-aggressions, and how examples like that  ‘use humour to say something smart and discomforting about race,” which is definitely related to this article’s aim. Yet, I feel like it also defines a sort of racial divide, one that identifies a specific racial community by communities of other races. It speaks on racial stereotypes as well. Senft and Noble also point out examples of racial activity online, like Black Twitter, that show how the Internet is used to perform racial identities, which I feel is what’s happening through this article.

In terms of the idea of reverse racism, which is also discussed by Senft and Noble, this Buzzfeed article definitely acquired some backlash in the comments section. Examples:

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 12.24.15 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 12.24.31 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 12.24.52 AM

I just think that the fact that humor is so often used on the Internet in the context of racial relations is a very important thing to note. Because all of this is happening in the Cyber world through jokes, Vines, etc., has it desensitized people on the real issues of racism in this society? How can this sort of approach to race online affect the discussion around it in the real and physical world?

3 thoughts on “Kanye West’s Face and White People

  1. nklepper

    I think you bring up a really important issue here in online content -that is of humor supposedly taking the edge off racial commentary. I had never heard of the term “micro-aggression” before reading this week’s articles, however, I can definitely say I’ve witnessed many accounts of this on social media through friends and followers. Although I am not the biggest fan of people posting political, racial and/or religious drama on social media, I do my best to be open to reading both sides of the argument before I make a judgment about a person and their beliefs. Unfortunately, this is extremely difficult when family members use these platforms to openly discuss and promote their ideologies that aren’t in line with your own, because they ultimately reflect back onto you, as you are a part of their family. We need to learn as what should be saved for the debate table, and what is appropriate to share online.

  2. bhesslegrave

    This is an interesting point. I think what you are getting at is that memes/humor on the Internet work to “race” just as much. By imposing Kanye’s face on some objectively ridiculous things white individuals have done, it pits a black man against a white man. It says “this is what white people do” and “this is how black people respond to it”. Maybe unlike what Senft and Noble say humor regarding race on the Internet is a double edged sword. It can expose (like SWGSBG), but it can also work to further the action of “racing”.

  3. Skylar_Elis

    I think it’s funny. It also is a stab and Kanye as a forever disgruntled person. However if it was a photo of a disgruntled white person, looking annoyed with another white person, it becomes a commentary of something completely different.

Leave a Reply