Is 'Planking' Racist?

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Planking, the fad in which people take pictures of themselves lying face down and upload them to the internet, is not racist. It's just stupid. But bloggers and Twitter users are in an uproar over what they say is planking's origins in the slave trade.


Today, rapper Xzibit freaked out on Twitter about planking, which has recently exploded in popularity among celebrities after buzzing like a mosquito around Twitter and Facebook:

#Planking was a way to transport slaves on ships during the slave trade, its not funny. Educate yourselves… Dont get it twisted. I care less where your dumb asses lay face down and take pictures of the shit, I'm just telling you where it came from.

Actually, "planking" is a rebranding of the years-old British meme "the lying down game". It comes from Australia, and is something radio stations ginned up as a promotional gimmick earlier this year.

Turns out, Xzibit is not the first person to claim that planking is somehow inspired by the horrific conditions in slave ships crossing the Atlantic. A popular June 28th post on the entertainment blog seems to have kicked off the planking-comes-from-slavery panic. Courtney Luv writes:

I did a little research and it revealed that slaves were chained and attached to "plank" beds. They were forced to lay face down with their arms by their side and their wrist chained to their waist. Some were even stacked on top of each other with no room to move. Keep in mind there were not any restrooms and they were exposed to bodily fluids, etc. Not many of the slaves survived, many dying from dehydration and disease. You can't always jump on the bandwagon just because you saw someone else. Everything has a hidden meaning. Cultural sensitivity is real. Yes, it maybe fun for now but it is an insult to some. Although "planking" wasn't the official terminology used by slave masters it is still seen as an insult to some African Americans. I don't know why and don't have the answer! At the same token, it is seen as a core strengthening exercise to others. This is for you to decide.


Atrocity or really good abs exercise? I often wonder the same thing about pilates.

Just goes to show the lengths that old people of all races will go to to squash the latest thing their kids are doing to freak them out. They already tried the "planking-is-dangerous" tactic, to no avail.


Though if smearing planking as racist is what finally makes it stop, we're not going to complain.


Planking Is the New Internet ‘Craze,' as Long as You Don't Die
How a Facebook Page Turned Into a Deadly Internet Craze


[Photo of Rosario Dawson planking on Jimmy Kimmel Live! via ABC]



I believe that when slaves were shipped over on those boats, they were lying on their backs, face up. Every illustration I've seen of slave trade boat layouts depict the slaves in those positions.

Therefore, I put forward that planking is not racist. Sleeping on one's back is racist.