If you don’t follow the happenings of Francophone Twitter, you likely missed the viral hashtag #SiLesNoirsParlaientCommeLesBlancs. At once funny and relevant, #SiLesNoirsParlaientCommeLesBlancs saw (mostly French) black Twitter users turning around racist clichés they hear daily and applying them to white people. Literally translated as: “if black people spoke like white people,” tweets using the hashtag not only expose the absurdity of prejudice and stereotypes but also shine a light on the microaggressions black people face daily.

 

@caribbeaanb: “Look, that’s me on safari in Europe.. I wanted to adopt all of them”

 

Another one from @Mlle_NMS outlines a conversation that someone with an “exotic” name may have experienced when interacting with a white person.

“-What’s your name?
– Pauline
– What does it mean?
– It is just a name?
– No, but what does it mean in your language?”

 

@supremenyx: “I am not racist, I have a white friend”

 

#SiLesNoirsParlaientCommeLesBlancs was started by Jade Mendouga (@supremenyx), a 19-year-old student. On February 16, she tweeted, “Is that your real hair? Can I touch it? It is really smooth, like dog hair,” using the hashtag and starting the trend. Mendouga, who is of French and Cameroonian descent, said she wanted to start a debate and joke with friends on Twitter. In that respect, she has been successful; #SiLesNoirsParlaientCommeLesBlancs has gone off Twitter to reach wider audiences in a country that prides itself on equality while brushing aside prejudiced jokes as harmless.

 

#SiLesNoirsParlaientCommeLesBlancs seems to be a successful use of humor to challenge stereotypes that hurt black people and has now inspired other minorities to speak out. Since the hashtag went viral, members of the French LGBT community have replicated it with #SiLesHomosParlaientCommeLesHeteros, “If gay people spoke like straight people.”

 

What are your opinions on #SiLesNoirsParlaientCommeLesBlancs and similar hashtags? Are they good ways to challenge racism? Leave a comment below or reach me on Twitter @rafeeeeta