Franchesca Ramsey released part two of “Sh*t White Girls Say To Black Girls” recently and I can say it’s just as funny as part one. I loved the part about she, imitating a white girl, said she dated a black guy in college and went on about how large he was. It reminded me of my coworker who said she slept with a black guy in college and couldn’t understand how us black girls could “do it” as all black man are well-endowed. No joke. Apparently our vaginas are made to be extra long and wide to accommodate the BBP. Anyway…
I also want to speak about the backlash Ramsey’s video has gotten, particularly in comment sections of websites such as The Huffington Post and Jezebel. I just posted one comment I saw on The Huffington Post page, which pretty much sums the complaints:
I’m white and I used to live in an all black part of town. When I walked down the street people would roll down their windows and yell all kinds of stuff at me. Some of it I can’t post because the message would get deleted. It happened all the time—ever couple of blocks. And when I drive through that same neighborhood today, people who are walking yell at me as I’m driving.What the girl in the video seems to be calling racism is just naivete and ignorance. If her white friends didn’t like her they wouldn’t hang out with her.Having been the only white among mostly blacks, they treated me like crap. Some African-Am
ericans are the most racist people of all. And they are often more racist toward their own race than they are to white people, because they taunt other blacks for being white or for not being black enough.The girl who made the video seems to be blissfully unaware of all this. I think she’s more racist than she thinks.
Most of the comments I’ve read have that same spin on them: white people face racism and discrimination, too! Most of the grumblings, as Tami Winfrey Harris wrote at Clutch Magazine, range from people crying reverse racism to people who downright don’t believe people actually speak like this.
The comment I posted above is the prototypical response people of color get when whiteness gets uncomfortable or offended with being labeled as racist. Since whiteness and white privilege teaches white people that they are inherently good and only racism is committed by a handful of folks, the charge of racism being an institutional ideology–one that white people benefit from–goes against what white people have been brainwashed to believe.
It’s no coincidence that backlash has been brewing against Ramsey’s video. Whenever whiteness is criticized or when people of color point out racism, whiteness retreats into defense mode and often lay the racism claim at the feet of people of color, as the commenter stated in her response on The Huffington Post.
You can talk to any black person and they will tell you they’ve had white people, both men and women, boys and girls, make these same comments to them. You can talk to any white person, woman or man, girl or boy, and they have probably made comments similar to the examples in the video to a black person at one point in their lives.
The reason why this video strikes a nerve among black women is it puts a clever spin on the many microaggressive forms of racism we face on a daily basis. This video puts a face on the racism we have to negotiate each day. All people of color each day wrestle with whether or not to challenge and confront both conspicuous or microagressive forms of racism. It also brings to light of how harmful these microagressions are when they are committed by people who claim to not see color or don’t believe race is a big deal.
The reason why this video strikes a nerve among white people is it puts a mirror up onto the racial slights many of them have committed. This video forces white people to think about how much whiteness, forms of oppression and othering of people of color has been embedded into their brains. The video and the examples of the microaggressions shatters the flawed notion that racism can only be classified as the obvious acts–the cross burnings, the hate crimes, the painting of racial slurs on property–and not the small, everyday occurrence that can often break a person of color’s spirit.
The commenter also claimed that the comments in the video reflect naivete or ignorance, but not racism. I beg to differ as misconceptions, biases and contempt about people of color are often what breed ignorant, racist comments and opinions about The Others.
The problem with the commenter’s logic is whiteness doesn’t allow for people of color to operate on the same sociological level as whites. Since racism equals power and privilege, there is no equal form of treatment people of color can inflict upon white people that would perpetuate our racial superiority. There is no term that can be hurled at white people that reminds them of their racial inferiority.There is no ideology that gives people of color the power and privilege to decide what white people can or can’t view as racist. There is no institution similar to whiteness that allows black people to make our thoughts, feelings and opinions the center of discussion when it comes to the plight of white people. There are no political, economic, social or academic institutions in place that reminds white people of their inferiority by way of voting rights restrictions, stumbling blocks to receive aid, the decline of investing in public schools and the fight to block universal access to quality health care.
There is no historical context that belittled white women for having big butts or white men for having a sexual appetite bordering on rape and violence. There is no historical context in which gave black people the authority to enslave and brutalize an entire race of people. There is no historical context in which protecting black womanhood was used to justify terrorizing, maiming, killing, torturing and subjugating white men.
Franchesca Ramsey’s videos could be the starting point on a discussion on racism, both in its obvious and microaggressive forms. However, just like all events that could spur an honest, candid discussion on racism, this opportunity will pass without a budge because whiteness continues to turn the other cheek on a system that promotes its advancement.
One has to wonder how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would feel about this lack of emotional and mental progress to the topic of race and racism.