NPR Story
11:00 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Stuff White Girls Say: Offensive or Funny?

It's not just "S- - - My Dad Says," anymore. A whole series of video memes parody what, for instance, Asian girls sound like to Asian boys. Or what natural hair girls say to relaxed hair girls. There are even videos about the stuff vegans, yogis and Canadians say.

With more than 5 million hits, "S- - - White Girls Say ... to Black Girls" is quickly becoming one of the most popular of the video parodies, although not without quite a bit of controversy: Some critics are calling the creator a racist.

The video features 28-year-old graphic designer, comedian and video blogger Franchesca Ramsey, who tucks her well-coiffed dreadlocks under a long blond wig to imitate conversations between a white woman and her black friend.

In her alternative persona, Ramsey asks why she can't say the N-word and says, "Jews were slaves too; you don't hear us complaining about it all the time." She also reaches out to touch her friend's hair — over and over again. At one point, Ramsey says it kind of feels like Cheetos.

"I think it's funny because it's real and it's honest and it's silly when it happens to you," Ramsey tells Michele Martin, host of NPR's Tell Me More. "But I think it can be embarrassing for people to confront the fact that they might have crossed the line with some of their friends."

Ramsey says that the character she portrays is based on an actual friend, but she's quick to note that she doesn't think people who've told her some of what she presents in her video are racist. Ramsey says, "I believe that maybe, they're just a little culturally sheltered."

She also points out that her video is no different from the others that generalize about the sorts of things girls, drunk girls, Jewish girls or gay men say.

"It does not represent everyone," Ramsey says. "This is my take on the meme."

Reverse Discrimination?

She seems to have anticipated some of the scrutiny before posting her video on YouTube. The parody ends with the blond-wigged Ramsey sitting in front of a computer and asking, "Have you seen this 'S- - - White Girls Say to Black Girls' video? [It's] kinda racist."

In addition to millions of views, the video has gotten thousands of comments — more than 26,000, with more being added constantly. While some laud Ramsey for dealing with big — and yet, incredibly personal — issues in a mere two-minute burst, others find her video offensive.

One claim that comes up over and over again in the comments is that a role reversal would be considered hate and not humor.

Ramsey says that when people don't understand her video they say, "That's racist, because if a white girl was wearing an Afro wig, people would be really mad."

But for now, Ramsey, who's been making comedic videos for years, is pleased to have gotten so much attention for her work. If YouTube "likes" are any sort of litmus test, the video has more than 45,000 of those, and only about 3,000 dislikes.

And of course, the door is wide open for a "S- - - Black Girls Say to White Girls" video for anyone who is up for adding to the video meme.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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