First it was cultural appropriation, and now there seems to be another phenomenon that has angered the black community on social media.

Blackfishing is a term used to describe a white person presenting themselves as black or mixed race on social media to pander to a particular aesthetic. This is mostly to gain followers, which is what a lot of white influencers have been doing.

Emma Hallberg, a Sweden Instagram influencer was accused of being a blackfish and since then, the topic has caused commotion on social media streets. The culprit who started blackfishing is unknown however; Emma’s face was the first to appear on Wanna Thompson’s Twitter thread.

Emma Hallberg says she has never claimed that she was black and that the “before” pictures that were leaked, were just pictures taken “on two different seasons of the year.”

Another known Instagram influencer, Aga Brostowska has also been accused of blackfishing. Aga who likes being referred to as Alicja claims to not have enlarged her butt and says that it is from hard work in the gym.

She also defends herself by saying “I’m proud to be Polish, but I don’t know why I look like this- my features are just there. I can’t help that I have big lips and not the stereotypical Polish features.”

Dara Thurmond a nurse from New York argues that blackfishing is pushing aside black influencers which she says is unfair. She also says that the problem with blackfishing is that as black people “being black has always been frowned upon.”

The problem with blackfishing that is a lot of cultural appropriation is being presented. Let us remember that cultural appropriation is taking an element from another culture and either calling it your own or making it fashion while disregarding the meaning.

In the blackfishing community hairstyles such as braids and dreadlocks are being appropriated, making the situation worse and the black community angrier. Blackfishing is not cultural appropriation; however it is making fashion out of being black in return for money and followers.

The fact that white influencers go out of their way to appear black by going through butt implant, enlarging thighs, using lip fillers, tanning their skin as well as using ethnic hair styles or making their hair curly, is what makes this blackfishing phenomenon totally absurd and wrong in whichever  way you look at it.

Another thing that upsets the black community is that blackfishing is considered as the modern embodiment of blackface. Blackface is theatrical make up used on stage by actors who are not black, portraying themselves as black and mocking black people. Blackface is also celebrated in the Netherlands on St Nicholas day, 5 December. Where people dress cosplay as Zwarte Piet (Black Piet), who was a companion of St Nicholas. Black people in the Netherlands consider this as way of mocking black people when the white people of the Netherlands see nothing wrong with it.

However, some disagree that blackfishing is the modern day blackface, because of blackface was being used to ridicule black people, whereas blackfishing is used as a form of gaining followers and money and of course for aesthetics. Some people say that blackfishing is more of appropriating since it is adopting black features just to make money and gain followers out of doing so.

With that being said blackfishing is now buzzing on social media and not only is it Alicja and Emma who are being exposed, but many other influencers have disappointed a lot of their followers.

Instagram is a platform where people can make easy money by becoming brand ambassadors as well as models, the black and mixed influencers such India Love Westbrooks are usually the target for companies. White influencers are also included but, companies target those who have darker (tanned) skin or blacker features. This is where white influencers decided to work on their features, in order to get as much recognition as black influencers.

Another negative aspect about blackfishing is that, white influencers see wearing black features as a way to earn money, but at the same time still hold white privilege by saying ‘I have black features, but I’m still white’. In other words, they want to “be” black for brand companies, but they do not want the struggle that comes with being black.

White influencers saw that black models, black brand ambassadors (especially for beauty) are now in demand. Being black is popular and white people do not want to be left behind. The only way for them to gain recognition is to be black or have black features.

The irony is that everybody is suddenly in love with the black features, the black body and black culture, but they would not stand alongside black people in their fight for equality.