'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’.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v25i12.10420



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