The troubling viral trend of the “hilarious” Black poor person
May 7, 2013
Charles Ramsey, the man who helped rescue three Cleveland women presumed dead after going missing a decade ago, has become an instant Internet meme. It’s hardly surprising—the interviews he gave yesterday provide plenty of fodder for a viral video, including memorable soundbites (“I was eatin’ my McDonald’s”) and lots of enthusiastic gestures. But as Miles Klee and Connor Simpson have noted, Ramsey’s heroism is quickly being overshadowed by the public’s desire to laugh at and autotune his story, and that’s a shame. Ramsey has become the latest in a fairly recent trend of “hilarious” black neighbors, unwitting Internet celebrities whose appeal seems rooted in a “colorful” style that is always immediately recognizable as poor or working-class.
Before Ramsey, there was Antoine Dodson, who saved his younger sister from an intruder, only to wind up famous for his flamboyant recounting of the story to a reporter. Since Dodson’s rise to fame, there have been others: Sweet Brown, a woman who barely escaped her apartment complex during a fire last year, and Michelle Clarke, who couldn’t fathom the hailstorm that rained down in her hometown of Houston, and in turn became “the next Sweet Brown.”
Granted, the buzzworthy tactic of reporters interviewing the most loquacious witnesses to a crime or other event is nothing new, and YouTube has countless examples of people of all ethnicities saying ridiculous things. One woman, for instance, saw fit to casually mention her breasts while discussing a local accident, while another man described a car crash with theatrical flair. Earlier this year, a “hatchet-wielding hitchhiker” named Kai matched Dodson’s fame with his astonishing account of rescuing a woman from a racist attacker. But none of those people have been subjected to quite the same level of derisive memeification as Brown, Clark, and now, perhaps, Ramsey—the inescapable echoes of “Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife!” and “Kabooyaw,” the tens of millions of YouTube hits and cameos in other viral videos, even commercials.
It’s difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform. Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the “ghetto,” socially out of step with the rest of educated America. Black or white, seeing Clark and Dodson merely as funny instances of random poor people talking nonsense is disrespectful at best. And shushing away the question of race seems like wishful thinking.
Ramsey is particularly striking in this regard, since, for a moment at least, he put the issue of race front and center himself. Describing the rescue of Amanda Berry and her fellow captives, he says, “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway!”
The candid statement seems to catch the reporter off guard; he ends the interview shortly afterward. And it’s notable that among the many memorable things Ramsey said on camera, this one has gotten less meme-attention than most. Those who are simply having fun with the footage of Ramsey might pause for a second to actually listen to the man. He clearly knows a thing or two about the way racism prevents us from seeing each other as people.
Please stop sharing these memes. Poor Black people speaking candidly about various serious incidents isn’t a hilarious joke.
This is really well written. I admit to have laughed at Dodson’s recounting , so this was good for me to read and I hope people keep reblogging this!!!
May I suggest that Ramsey could be unwise about race relations and simply a racist? To suggest that Ramsey’s statement is wise is silly. He said that when black and white Americans have a relationship it is a sign of some trouble or problem on the part of the white American.This statement is racist to the core, no if or buts.
Actually he was saying the obvious: white people in America are usually scared of black people, certainly to the point that it is beyond rare that a young white american girl would be likely to run into the arms of a black male, without a serious reason.
The fact that racism exists shouldn’t shock you & you shouldn’t try and shame people for pointing out the obvious: racism exists.
Saying that his pointing that out that we live in a society dominated by racism is ‘racist to the core’ is unacceptable.
YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE ANGRY ABOUT THINGS
YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE UPSET ABOUT THINGS
YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO AN EMOTIONAL RESPONSE
DON’T LET PEOPLE TELL YOU YOUR RESPONSE IS INVALID BECAUSE IT IS EMOTIONAL OR BECAUSE THEY DISAGREE
DON’T LET PEOPLE TELL YOU YOU DON’T HAVE A RIGHT TO A RESPONSE
DON’T LET PEOPLE INVALIDATE YOUR EMOTIONS
THIS HAS BEEN A PSA IM MAD AS HELL
A quote from
I might have reblogged this already but it’s so good I don’t care.
Kyriarchy in action. (via transstingray)
Also the study where they had women and men talking in a discussion and when women spoke around 30% of the time, men perceived them as dominating the discussion. They didn’t consider it “equal” until something like 5-10% of women talking. (via dumbthingswhitepplsay)
Voila. A beautiful example of why fighting for equality becomes a gross exaggeration in the eyes of the oppressors. (via curiouslycool)
And if you don’t believe me, you’ve never been a married woman who kept her family name. I have had students hold that up as proof of my “sexism.”
My own brother told me that he could never marry a woman who kept her name because “everyone would know who ruled that relationship.” Perfect equality – my husband keeps his name and I keep mine – is held as a statement of superiority on my part."
A quote from Tegan Quin (via teganand-sara)
A quote from Kurt Vonnegut (via mermaidcunt)
Masturbation, Relationships, and Sex: A Guide for Trans* and Gender Variant People
Sex, relationships, and masturbation can be tricky when you’re Trans*. You have to deal with social stigma as well as your own dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is the feeling that your body isn’t quite right. For trans* people this usually involves the genitals and chest, but it can also involve body hair, voice, facial features, weight distribution, and many other parts of the body. This can make it difficult to even be naked, let alone touching your body or having it be touched. There’s also the constant fear of rejection or even violence which is why many trans* people are hesitant to start up relationships or approach someone for sex. In this article we’ll discuss some tips on how to deal with each of these issues.
(Male) straight privilege is heterosexual men being concerned that all gay men will make unsolicited sexual advances, whilst they themselves do so all the time towards women and never think anything of it.