LANGLEY, VAThe most crucial passages of U.S. intelligence have been emphasized with indelible black highlighters.
So that was the problem!
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.
Now that you know this is a thing, please stop sharing these memes. Poor Black people speaking candidly about various serious incidents isn’t a hilarious joke.
Look I understand the whole racism thing, but can I ask a serious question?
Why does it always have to be about race? I mean seriously! The guy was funny, even if the situation was not. He gave a humorous retelling of his story of their rescue. And really a lot of people, I’d go so far as to say most people, try to find humor in situations like this, and he did and so have we.
And all the people listed in the post above from Antoine Dodson to Sweet Brown were on CAMERA. So yeah they were probably actually performing a bit themselves.
I prescribe you two doses of chill the fuck out, and you can call me in the morning.
Thank you Jacob, for your absolutely thoughtless contribution to this post. Certainly what we need more of in conversations about racism, is more white people who find ways to dismiss, diminish & silence reports of racism. Way to continue the slave-masters’ legacy, Jacob!
“The colorblindness ideal is premised on the notion that we, as a society, can never be trusted to see race and treat each other fairly or with genuine compassion. A commitment to color consciousness, by contrast, places faith in our capacity as humans to show care and concern for others, even as we are fully cognizant of race and possible racial differences.” — Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
“..because these story lines are social products, the media play an important role in reinforcing them. News reports on affirmative action seldom address the whiteness of academia or the workplace and its implications; sensational reports on welfare cheats never address the reality of welfare, that people on welfare live below the poverty line; stories of ‘bad’ behavior by Black and Latino youths are presented as ‘normal,’ whereas stories depicting ‘bad’ behavior by white youths are not. New reports on minorities thus tend to be presented as morality tales that support the various racial stories of the color-blind era. These reports are then recycled by the white audience as absolute truths… Therefore, the media uses the racials stories we create and makes them as if they were independent creations that validate our racial angst.”— Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Racism without Racists
“ ‘I’m white and I make it a point in my life to never see skin color’
Translation: ‘I’m white and I make it a point in my life to not acknowledge the fact that our institutionally racist society makes having skin any tone darker than white an absolute living hell, because it makes me uncomfortable. I also would like to erase your experiences as a POC by ‘not seeing’ skin color, while simultaneously upholding white supremacist ideals’ ” - awfullydistracted
“Seeing race is not the problem. Refusing to care for the people we see is the problem… We should hope not for a colorblind society but instead for a world in which we can see each other fully, learn from each other, and do what we can to respond to each other with love.” — Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow, page 244
“I’ve spent nearly a decade studying sociology and race, I’ve read boatloads of books and written countless papers on race, taught Race & Ethnicity as a class to hundreds of students, and yet somehow I’m not cured of racism, prejudice, and discrimination. So I ask anyone who says they’re colorblind, how on earth have you cured yourself of racism without putting in nearly the same level of effort?” -Stuff Students Say About Racism
Generation after generation, from slavery, to Jim Crow, to today’s mass-incarceration/New Jim Crow, people of color have sounded the alarm on racism, reporting their horrific experiences in this racist society. And generation after generation, racist white people have stood up to dismiss racism, even when it is as overt, extreme and systemic as it IS. Don’t be that white person. Don’t be the racist fuck holding the rest of us back. Particularly if you are a white man, be extra vigilant, because historically, it’s always been you. Please & thanks.
An honorable human relationship - that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word ‘love’ - is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in so doing we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.
oh you know fuck arizona for this SB 1432 shit about “showing papers” before you pee
but yo i am looking up all of the posts that have been mentioning sb 1432 and have only found one where folks are talking about how this will be most urgently impacting undocumented gender…
Just so we’re all clear on what we just read. Black people make up 22% of the poor but only 14% of the government benefits. Meaning, 8% of poor Black people are not taking government benefits when they need them.
While, white people make up 42% of the poor but receive 69% of the government benefits. Meaning, there are white people who are classified as middle class who are receiving government benefits.
…but welfare queens and stuff.
LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT!
Black people make up 22% of the poor BUT only 14% of the government benefits.
White people make up 42% of the poor BUT receive 69% of the government benefits.
This needs to go viral.
This is essential piece of information revealing racial bias AGAINST Black people in receiving government benefits.
Never again do I want to hear about White people living in poverty.
Never again do I want to hear about Black people living on government benefits.
Reblog this. Over and over again. POST IT ON EVERY SOCIAL MEDIA SITE WHERE YOU HAVE AN ACCOUNT.
I DON’T WANNA HEAR ANOTHER FUCKIN WORD ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE AND WELFARE
NOT ANOTHER FUCKIN WORD
All the commentary.
Uprooting racism in the food system: Communities organize for justice
March 11, 2013
A shovel overturned can flip so much more than soil, worms, and weeds. Structural racism - the ways in which social systems and institutions promote and perpetuate the oppression of people of color – manifests at all points in the food system. It emerges as barriers to land ownership and credit access for farmers of color, as wage discrimination and poor working conditions for food and farmworkers of color, and as lack of healthy food in neighborhoods of color. It shows up as discrimination in housing, employment, redlining, and other elements which impact food access and food justice.
Many people involved in creating food - from Haitian tomato pickers organizing in Florida, to Native Americans saving seeds in Arizona, to Black Detroit residents growing gardens in fractured neighborhoods – are simultaneously chipping away at structural racism. In the Harvesting Justice series we touch on many of these issues, starting with a look at African-American farmers and what they doing to win justice in the food system.
In 1920, one in every seven farmers in the U.S. was African-American. Together, they owned nearly 15 million acres. Racism, violence, and massive migration from the rural South to the industrialized North have caused a steady decline in the number of Black farmers. So, too, has, institutional racism in the agricultural policies of the USDA. By 2007, African-American farmers numbered about one in 70, together owning only 4.2 million acres.
Over the years, studies by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (CRC), as well as by the USDA itself, have shown that the USDA actively discriminated against Black farmers, earning it the nickname ‘the last plantation.’ A 1964 CRC study showed that the agency unjustly denied African-American farmers loans, disaster aid, and representation on agricultural committees. But organizations like the National Black Farmers Association, the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, the Land Loss Prevention Project, and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives have been challenging racism in agricultural policy through legal action. In 1997-98, African-American farmers filed class-action lawsuits against the USDA for unjustly denying them loans. The lawsuits were consolidated into one case, Pigford v. Glickman, which was settled in 1999. But due to delays in filing claims, nearly 60,000 farmers and their heirs were left out of this settlement. In November 2010, the U.S. Congress passed the Claims Settlement Act (known as Pigford II) to compensate Black farmers who were left out of the first settlement. President Obama signed the bill a month later, making $1.25 billion available for claimants in the form of cash payments and loan forgiveness, though the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association has filed an appeal because Pigford II provides smaller payments and places limits on claimants’ future legal options.
bell hooks wrote, “Collective black self-recovery takes place when we begin to renew our relationship to the earth, when we remember the way of our ancestors… Living in modern society, without a sense of history, it has been easy for folks to forget that black people were first and foremost a people of the land, farmers.”
Some who are still farmers are carrying on the fight for economic and civil rights for land-based African-American people, a fight which dates back to the days of slavery. Probably the most impressive contemporary example of such organizing has been the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. An outgrowth of the civil rights movement, it formed in 1967 when 22 cooperatives met at Atlanta University. The federation has used collective action ever since to support Black and other small farmers and rural communities. Today, their members include over 100 coops in 16 states across the South.
A fast-growing movement is African-Americans reclaiming their connection to their urban land and their food, as part of food justice and food sovereignty movements. People’s Grocery and Mo’ Better Food in Oakland, Growing Power, Rooted in Community, Detroit Black community Food Security Network, and many others are organizing with farmers and connecting African-American growers and consumers. Many of these, such as the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, are working forcommunities of color to have democratic control over their own food systems. Their work includes youth programs and urban gardening in areas where access to healthy, affordable food is limited, as is the case in many low-income and people of color neighborhoods.
These groups are also raising awareness of the ways that African-American communities, and communities of color in general, have been sidelined within the food movement itself. Inclusion and participation of people of color has come slowly and late. Often, African-American neighborhoods are targeted as ‘intervention’ areas by outside organizations that - though well-meaning - are neither led by nor accountable to the community and its most urgent needs and goals. The prevailing white culture of the food movement as a whole creates barriers: the typical image of farmers presented often reflects a white archetype and the types of food solutions presented are not always culturally relevant or practical.
A critical element of many African-American groups’ work thus involves nation-wide education and organizing on structural racism as it impacts health, farming, food, and land. Among other elements, these organizations are committed to knocking down barriers to food production and food access. Some have joined the world-wide movement for food sovereignty, in their own communities and through the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance, so that citizen control over food and agriculture can exist across global economic systems.
Ultimately, we all eat, and we are all implicated. Achieving racial justice in the food system is not the sole burden of African-Americans organizing but will take multiracial alliances of people raising awareness of systemic disparities, and working together to end them.
I want to add many Latino & low-income communities have started community farms as well. It’s a huge step toward autonomy, mutual aid & collectivism in these areas where healthy food isn’t readily available or it’s very expensive.
I recently began working with a women’s collective & migrant farm workers to develop a community farm in south El Paso near the Texas/Mexico border. I would really encourage people with the time & resources to start organizing a community farm because food justice is a human right’s issue!