The Problem with Whitewashing and Blackwashing

Hi, P-assengers! Glad to meet you in another PIDAS’S weekly article! In today’s article, we’ll talk about the problem with whitewashing and blackwashing. I bet it’s a topic that you guys ever heard of. Especially through social media such as Instagram or Twitter. So what is it? Is it important for us to know about it? Is it appropriate? What’s wrong with both whitewashing and blackwashing? Well, sit tight cause PIDAS will tell you the answers in this article.

First of all, we’ll gonna tell you about whitewashing. Simply according to LeiLani Nishime, a professor of communication at the University of Washington, whitewashing is the elimination of people of color with white characters/person/actors. For instance, character A was supposed to be an Asian in the comic but in the live-action movie, character A was replaced as a white man. 

Another type of whitewashing is when they focus on the white character when the people of color was supposed to be in the focus of the story. A white person pretending to be a person of color, erasing people of color in the story from where they should be, and giving major complex roles to white people when it’s supposed to be the other way. All of it could be considered as whitewashing. Why is it inappropriate? Well, it’s because whitewashing can lead to anxiety as minority individuals can feel pressured to look or a present in a certain way. 

Now about blackwashing. It’s pretty similar to whitewashing but the difference is blackwashing is when a traditionally white character is replaced with a black or a person of color. They tend to do it in the name of diversity. For an example of blackwashing, let’s talk about a game community. The majorities characters from this game are Asian but some people usually edited their skin color to be black characters. And ironically a lot of people appreciate it, they say “oh it’s good, it’s diversity”. No, you guys just erase someone’s ethnicity (which is Asian) to black. Just because whitewashing is inappropriate doesn’t justify the act of blackwashing. Both of them are harmful, they make people with the same ethnicity as the character replaced be sad, angry, and disappointed. 

Unfortunately, people tend to normalize both whitewashing and blackwashing. We have to stop these kinds of behaviors. Start by reminding someone who did it adequately. Don’t insult or humiliate them. If you can adequately do this, why not? Or maybe you could write a story or a comic and use more diverse characters to it. So the minorities have a representation in the story.

So, do you guys ever encounter this kind of scenario? If P-assengers ever meet it please don’t normalize it. You should tell the person who did it that it was wrong, don’t insult them. Just tell them nicely. That’s all from PIDAS in this article. I hope it’s helpful and see you in another article. Goodbye! Have a nice day!



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