The "Troubling" Viral Trend of the Hilarious Black Neighbor

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The Troubling Viral Trend of the “Hilarious” Black Neighbor


Aisha Harris

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.

The racist media is to blame for not editing out the comments made by these poor, oppressed black folk who work so hard every day and get crushed by the burdensome whites and their privileges. Why, these evil honkies need to make sure to cut out the embarrassing things and ensure that each black individual getting interviewed has a golden halo over their head and a doctor's degree hanging in the background behind their shoulder. :tard2:

Of course, let's never mind that the "Sweet Brown" woman made thousands off of her "Ain't nobody got time fo dat" quip.

Ironically it's Slate writers who are 'socially out of step' with the rest of America, whose first reaction to Ramsey's good-natured humor was endearment, rather than suspicion that a sinister paternalism, a residue of white racism, lurked below the surface. A further level of irony is added by the author's own liberal paternalism, which seeks to rescue blacks from the stereotypes that they embody and often accept, as Ramsey himself does. So far is the author removed from the reality of black culture that she can't even bring herself to type ghetto without self-conscious scare quotes, as if their existence was a matter of white myth -- if the author were white, this would be understandable, since white liberals prefer to admire black culture from afar (way afar), but since her name is 'Aisha' it's rather inexplicable. A glance at her resume shows that she has essentially lived in an academic bubble her entire life (no surprise), so that may explain part of the puzzle.

All in all, a pretty typical Slate piece.

Charles Ramsey came off as having a low IQ, yet he manages to seem sharper and more knowledgeable than SWPLs

Bronze Age Pervert
Bob Dylan Roof
Team Zissou
Shocking. Guy is obviously some sorta criminal.

Seriously, the "troubling" part is that these people have no idea what the lower class is like in its element, especially blacks and latinos. (White trash terrify and repulse them to the point they don't really even think about them). When all these potential neurosurgeons and poet laureates display the primitive, childish behavior that those of us in the real world know is their normal mode, it's "troubling."

What is truly troubling is we have created, imported, subsidized a vast, dependent population that is practically incapable of functioning in an advanced economy. This whole fucking neighborhood is a dystopic nightmare. Remember the wise Latina who first encountered Amanda Berry? "Choo aint Amanda Berr-eee. Shee dead mang! Eyy but I guess I letchoo use dees cellphone!"

When the money runs out, what are we going to do with these people?