A video fast climbing past a million page views in the two days since its debut — despite the lack of credit from Perez Hilton — takes a light touch to racial ignorance, but is no less meaningful for its social commentary.
Franchesca Ramsey, whose "Chescaleigh" YouTube channel alone has over 6.1 million views and 40,000 subscribers, posted "S*** White Girls Say ... to Black Girls" on Jan.4, and before you could say, "Not to be racist ...." it's been viewed over a million times. Ramsey also gained around 2,500 Twitter followers (closing in on 7,000) and more than 10,000 subscribers between her two YouTube channels. (She's about to start a third.)
First, let's be clear, since a lot of people leaving comments on YouTube and elsewhere seem to have a hard time understanding this: "S*** White Girls Say...to Black Girls" is a parody.
One of my own friends who didn't think it was funny wrote on my Facebook timeline after I'd posted it, "Having heard a number of things people have said to me over the years, one could make a 'Stupid things humans say to each other' video."
Yes, one could.
But Ramsey, 28, who attributed the inspiration behind the video to her suburban upbringing in West Palm Beach, Fla., found a way to do it about this subject. And while humor is subjective, at least a million page views tells me more than a few people find it's right on target. That, and I've heard pretty much all those lines said to my friends of color and as I'm Asian, similar lines said to me. As has Ramsey, an actress/comedian with a degree in graphic design who is currently living and working in fashion in New York city, who took the time to give an interview to msnbc.com.
"With the exception of two lines, ('My grandmother hates collards' and 'Let me call you back, Oprah is on') all of the statements are based on things friends, classmates and co-workers have said to me."
Ramsey knew she wanted to do a parody of another viral bit of YouTube comedy, "S*** Girls Say." But it wasn't until she went home for Christmas that she decided to make it based on things her white friends have said to her, after fielding dozens of questions about her hair.
(When you watch the video, which is embedded at the end of this story and probably safe for work except for its title, you'll see how prominent that discussion is. Ramsey even has an entire video channel, chescalocs, dedicated to her natural hair tutorials.)
For the most part, reaction to the video has been positive. Mostly.
But there are of course a lot of trolls who've decided that I'm racist for making the video which is just ludicrous. Some people see it as just a funny video, but a lot of people are realizing that it's a social commentary and are using it to start a dialogue within their circles. I've also gotten some amazing comments and emails from men and women who saw themselves in the character and realized that they have said inappropriate things to their friends in the past.
Before this video, Ramsey doesn't remember ever being called "racist." Though she does recall one incident when she was younger: "In 7th grade a 'friend' told me that he was glad he didn't to go to a certain neighboring school because it was a 'N-word school.' Being a hormonal and moody pre-teen, I then punched him in the face which resulted in a black eye. It was the first and only punch I've ever thrown."
And now, with the parody, others are throwing written punches.
Since this video, too many "people" to count. I say "people" only because most of them are trolls just looking for attention because my video is popular. My response is usually something along the lines of, "This video is not about racism, nor is it racist. This video is about cultural insensitivity and is based on things that have been said to me. It is not about all white girls or all white people. It is about SOME white people that have said inappropriate things. Highlighting ignorance is not racist. I'm sorry you're unable to see that." if I'm in a rush and can't type all that out I just say, "OH MY GAWD HOW DARE YOU MY FIANCE IS WHITE"
Yeah, that's right, she's engaged to a white guy, who she says is "amazing, especially because he's handling my craziness as a result of all of THIS craziness." While there's been some family tension, she says that the "truly horrible comments were on the Internet. At one point I was even getting death threats."
And there's the Perez Hilton unpleasantness, which goes straight to the matter of attribution, crediting and embedding. (The video has since been taken off his site.)
As much as I don't want to talk about that person anymore I'll say this, he downloaded my video from YouTube, uploaded to his video server, monetized the video with advertising, edited my name out of the end of the video and didn't credit me or my channel in his post. By the time I was notified of what he had done, the post had a little over 100k views. I then contacted him via email and asked him to please credit me and relink to my original video. Instead of crediting me or amending the post to include my original video so I could gain exposure and revenue from those views, he opted to delete the post all together. To add insult to injury he sent me a very passive aggressive email suggesting he "didn't know he was stealing" and that he was "giving me exposure". This is very important to me because as a YouTube partner I make revenue from my videos which I use to support myself. I really can't say how much money I lost but at the end of the day it doesn't matter because the video has been very successful without the assistance of he who shall not be named.
And so, despite this, the future looks bright. Ramsey says she's been approached by "a TV producer, two major talents agents, numerous film makers, a national TV show and even a literary agent."
At this point, she says, anything is possible. "My goal is that wherever I end up, I'm able to continue being creative and making people laugh and think. That could happen in my bedroom (where I film most of my videos ... don't be a perv) or a sound stage. I just want to continue doing what I love and loving what I do. Oh, and getting paid for it."
Ramsey, who started making videos in 2007 after graduating from Miami International University of Art and Design, saw online video as a "perfect way" to combine her talents "in a creative way." Her first video, she said, was "pretty embarrassing, it's a very low quality hairstyle tutorial, filmed with my computer's built in iSight camera."
She's kept a journal since the second grade and in 8th grade took her journal online when she started her website.
"At the time 'blog' was a relatively new word so I didn't even know that's what I was doing! I was just writing about my daily life and struggling to write my own HTML code. When I got to college I purchased franchesca.net for the bargain price of $10. I continued posting on my site throughout college and then made the leap to video after getting an iMac for graduation."
Ramsey writes, films and edits all of her videos, but she has hired videographers for three videos, including her lastest smash hit. She filmed it Monday afternoon, started editing Monday night, finished editing Tuesday and posted early Wednesday morning before she went to work. By her lunch break "the video had over 200,000 views and had been posted on Jezebel and gone viral on Tumblr."
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