Gradient has introduced an AI-enabled tool that allows users to alter their ethnicity in images to ‘find out how you would look if you were born on a different continent’
This summer, the Black Lives Matter movement spread across the world, in the biggest global protests against police brutality and systemic racism in a generation. Despite all the educational tools available, it seems a handful of people learned absolutely nothing. Namely: photo editing app Gradient.
The app has launched a new feature called AI Face, which allows users to “find out how you would look if you were born on a different continent”. Demonstrated on Twitter by Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ Scott Disick and Brody Jenner, who turned themselves into natives of ‘Asia’, ‘India’, and ‘Africa’, the problematic feature has – obviously – been criticised for promoting blackface.
After widespread backlash, Disick and Jenner both deleted their Twitter posts, though the images remain on their respective Instagram accounts – with comments turned off, of course. Due to their #sponcon deals, the pair have since had to repost on Twitter, though this time they’ve only enabled comments for people they @’d in the tweet – AKA no one.
“The clammy grip of Brody Jenner’s blackface sponcon means even though (him) and Scott Disick deleted their OG Gradient tweets from Tuesday, they’ve now had to repost them this morning as if nothing happened,” wrote journalist Moya Lothian-Mclean.
Responding to Jenner’s original post, one Twitter user said: “Imma just give three reasons why I think this is racist off the top of my head… 1. Blackface 2. Stereotyping an entire continent 3. Idk if y’all know geography but umm India is in Asia…”
Another remarked in a reply under Disick’s post: “How are so many people replying to this with an actual answer instead of being outraged that it’s completely racist.”
New York Magazine and HuffPost journalist Yashar Ali shared a screenshot of Jenner’s post, with the caption: “Ahhh @BrodyJenner doing blackface via an app.”
Other features on Gradient allow users to turn themselves into celebrities, animals, and portraits. You can even use the app’s ‘Ethnicity Estimate’ feature (sigh), which uses artificial intelligence to tell you your ancestry.
This isn’t the first time celebs/influencers have been criticised for promoting blackface. In June, Instagram influencers started painting their skin Black in ‘solidarity’ with BLM. One shared a “photo montage” of a Black woman with her own face Photoshopped in, and said: “I wish I was Black, today more than ever.”
Instead of doing blackface, here’s a list of anti-racism resources to read.