It all started with the video Shit Girls Say and then spiraled (and has since disintegrated) into a barrage of Shit (insert ethnic/gender group) Say… spoof videos. Shit Girls Say morphed into Shit Black Girls Say, which prompted Shit Black Guys Say, which encouraged Shit Latinas Say. And you know the natural and relaxed haired sistren had to create a spoof of their own: Shit Naturals Hair Girls Say /Shit Relaxed Girls Say to Natural Girls… until many of us implored, Enough!
The series has definitely run its course, yet people won’t let it die a quiet death until they’ve squeezed the last vestige out of the joke… adding Shit to an already heaping pile. Amongst the wreckage of daft Shit Whoever, Everybody, & Their Mama Say videos, popular YouTube vlogger Franchesca Leigh Ramsay, better known as Chescaleigh to the rest of us, managed to stand out and prompt an interesting discourse on race relations. In her spoof video Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls; Chescaleigh dons a blond wig and an affected Valleyspeak accent, as she cleverly lampoons the ways in which some White women may try to relate to Black women (or any woman of color).
As a Black woman who went to a predominantly White liberal arts college in the Midwest and who has interacted with White women from all walks of life during college and throughout my everyday life, Chescaleigh presents circumstances that are very familiar to me and many of my friends. The: “Come on! Lemme just touch your hair this one time, really quick!” and the “Look at my tan, I’m almost as Black as you!” comments or bizarre questions I’d get from White women, initially flummoxed and then frustrated me. Once during my first year at college, questions about my otherness from a floor (and dormitory) of mostly White women, ran the gamut. “How often do you wash your hair?” and “Do Black people get the chicken pox?” were popular ones. Whenever I divulged where I was from, I’d get asked, “Oh, do you know someone named Tyrone Jones? He’s Black and from Connecticut too.” I know Connecticut’s a small state, but umm…
One situation that left an indelible mark on my psyche is when a college peer on my floor, asked me to christen her with a “Black, ghetto name,” because she thought having a hood-sounding moniker bestowed upon her, by an authentic Black would somehow give her faux-street cred. When I voiced my displeasure to the RA her response was, “Ohh, that’s just her way of trying to relate to you. I wouldn’t take it so personally. I’d take it as a compliment.”
Chescaleigh’s video definitely had Black women collectively nodding their heads as they undoubtedly re-lived similar interactions with their White friends or peers. It also angered some White women, many of whom have gone so far as to brand Chescaleigh a racist on her fan page, in the YouTube comments section and on the show, notwithstanding the fact that none of her skits involved any hateful language or racism and comments such as, “This girl was on Anderson today and she ‘speaks’ White” illustrate her point. Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls resonates with people, and as comedic as it is, it comes from an honest place and has forced people to re-think how they approach their friends and colleagues. Franchesca also eloquently stated during her appearance on Anderson Cooper’s talk show today, to an otherwise skeptical (and wounded) audience, that she was “not a zoo exhibit, so don’t start touching.” Nor was she a spokesperson for all Black people, which may (or may not) dissuade the beyond random questions, people like to ask.
It’s apparently OK for folks to label all Blacks (and other minorities) as being uneducated, unmotivated welfare recipients or angry Black women, but it’s NOT OK (and somehow racist, *side-eye*) for any of us to point out the ways in which we’re unfairly stereotyped… The same people who’re offended by Chescaleigh’s video are the same folks who cry about the evil that is political-correctness and like to patronize people of color with accusations of hyper-sensitivity whenever their overtly obvious bigotry is pointed out.
In the wake of the hateful propaganda being perpetuated by wealthy White House hopefuls, looking to dethrone Barack Obama and lead the country, anybody feeling particularly insulted about a video that essentially calls out ignoramus behavior, may want to take a long, hard look at what racism actually is. Perhaps then, an honest dialogue about how we really view and relate to one another can truly unfold… Otherwise, we’ll continue on with this Adagio Dance we like to do around one another.