With her series “I Morphed Myself Into Tribal Women To Raise Awareness Of Their Secluded Cultures,” a Hungarian journalist and human rights writer’s well-intentioned blog post hit a nerve of some African indigenous communities.
Boglarka Balogh, 34, recently uploaded a series of self-portraits depicting her transformation into seven different tribe members — a project she wanted to create awareness of tribes on the brink of extinction and to celebrate the diverse beauty of Africa.
The journalist didn’t undergo an extreme makeover to turn herself into the women; instead a graphic designer friend of hers digitally altered Balogh's photo to resemble the tribeswomen.
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Although well-meaning, her pictures are seen as an attempt to superimpose her own white profile onto black faces that tell their own stories — which is exactly what some indigenous people accuse whites of doing since time immemorial by taking away their contributions and history and forcefully placing themselves in it.
Many people have criticized Balogh, accusing her of being a white supremacist and telling her that if she wanted to get her point across, all she had to do was to post the original tribes members’ faces instead of her own.
When. Will. They. Stop. pic.twitter.com/61XkdyUAWD— the new year pooper (@lonelydandruff) January 7, 2016
@boglarkabalogh Cultural appropriation, cultural insensitivity and epistemological ignorance do not art nor ally make. Blackface? Not ok.— AHRR (@abdulhamid_la) January 7, 2016
that white woman Photoshopping herself in blackface is a Voight-Kampff test for humanity. it's so glaringly capital B Bad, that as long as..— lucyswope (@lucyswope) January 7, 2016
Really not surprised that #BoglarkaBalogh is Hungarian. Racism and neocolonialism are rarely discussed in Eastern European countries.— a?? (@always_anjamind) January 7, 2016
The human rights lawyer since deleted the photos from her blog at Bored Panda and wrote an explanatory note:
“Since I had no intentions to offend anyone and yet I’m not able to answer to all of you, I’ve decided to delete my post. My intention was 100% pure with this tribal art, being a human right lawyer and journalist who knows pretty much about racism and similar issues, I have never imagined that my work will annoy so many people and that I will have to explain myself. And sure, I will not do that. Keep calm and love every human.”
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