Do White People Really Know What Racism Is?

January 12, 2012  |  

Franchesca Ramsey’s YouTube video, “Shyte White Girls Say to Black Girls” might have come along a little late in the history of the “Shyte say” meme but it’s certainly created the most controversy. While all of the videos paint a very stereotypical portrait of the group they’re imitating, Franchesca’s video has been flagged as “reverse racism.” She even went on Anderson Cooper’s new show to speak about the video and defend herself against claims that statements made in the video were racist.

Check out a short clip from the show below

Racist, eh? The word gets thrown around entirely too much, by people of all races, that perhaps we’ve become desensitized to it. For those of you who might need a refresher course racism is, according to Merriam Webster, “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” I had to read that a couple of times so to state it more plainly, racism means a person believes that because they are of a particular race they are superior to a person of another race.

A second definition states that one can show prejudice or discrimination to a particular person because of one’s racist beliefs.

Judging by those definitions it’s clear that Franchesca’s video does not fall into either one of those categories. She is not stating that black people or anybody is better than the people who make these statements to black women. What it does do is highlight some of the ignorance believed and expressed by some people…who happen to be white.

Very few things in this world are absolute. When the “Shyte Black Girls Say” video came out, I didn’t see myself in 99 percent of the jokes he made. (I’m not going to lie, I love to say “It’s hot/cold in here.” or “That’s my song, turn that up.”) But I still found humor in it because I’ve heard plenty of black girls say those same things. And if those crying “reverse racism” were honest with themselves they’d find the same is true about Franchesca’s video.

Not for one minute do I believe that all white people express such ignorance as some of the statements made in her video; but I’ve also seen,  experienced and been privy to conversations about enough of those comments to know that there are white people, whether they mean harm or not, who have used some of those exact phases or asked those same questions. There’s nothing wrong with being ignorant. Our experiences on this earth only explain so much. There is a problem, however, in being confronted with your ignorance and choosing to ignore it while pointing the finger at the one trying to educate you.

In all honesty, I can’t help but feel like white people, who are coming to the racism game a little late, might not truly know what the word, the belief and the corresponding actions might look like.

What do you think, was Franchesca’s video racist? Have you seen or heard people using the “racist” term incorrectly?

Image via YouTube

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  • Just a Guy

    Why “Reverse Racism” will never fly. It’s like getting your A$$ whipped for 10 years, 10 months, & 10 days, & then finally throwing out a jab to defend yourself and being called violent???? If the math don’t add up, then you can’t use it. White people’s defense of racism is it happens to everyone, & Blacks are not the only one’s trying to erase what ever has been said or done like it nothing. But there is NO race on the face of this planet that has been prejudged more. Our history is deeper than any holocaust, bombing of Japan, or rape of the Islamic countries will ever amount to. Except with us, they say leave it alone-get over it. America doesn’t teach about real Black History, & the indoctrination of predominately an all white history in schools leave all American’s no matter the race feeling as those whites are the superior. When in truth, this country was built by people of every race. Reverse Racism is an escape goat to guilt.

  • KD

    If a white person put on an afro wig and imitated a black person in a video where the black character was portrayed as an idiot, it would be labelled racism. If white people painted their faces black and portrayed characters that embodied black sterotypes for an audience to laugh at, this would also be called racism. Yet this video is not racist because it’s black people and a blonde wig, and the movie “White Chicks” is not racist because it’s black people painting their faces white. Double standard?

    • It is your statement that is the double standard, since Black people have no political power in the US and, therefore, cannot be institutionally racist.

      This means that racism is only politically effective when Whites do it and any racism committed by Blacks can simply be ignored by Whites – one of the many privileges of White supremacism that you enjoy and promote here.

      • the truth

        Where did you pull that statement out of? It has no backing, incredibly little truth, and entirely lacking intelligence. What KD said is in fact a double standard and the idea of institutionally racist does not apply whatsoever to KD’s statement or the article.
        Also, your grammar lesson for the day, whites and blacks should not be capitalized because they are only an adjective not a proper noun.

        •  One cannot prove a negative, so it is your statements that are ‘entirely lacking intelligence’ – especially as you never want Frank TALKER to answer your question, just in case He can out-answer you.

          your grammar lesson for the day,’ Negro and Caucasian are capitalized,
          but Black and White are not? Is this because Whites like you want
          to pretend that these latter words only refer to skin color when they
          actually are being used – in context – to refer to ethnicity.

  • The question suggests dangerous, life-threatening naivety.

    Of course, Whites know what racism is since they are the direct
    beneficiary of it. When the sun shines and you feel good, you know what
    sunshine is!

    To claim otherwise is to allow Whites to claim that what they do or do
    not do is not a matter of personal choice: A racist ploy last used by
    the Nazis at Nuremberg – ‘I was only following orders.’ Any implication
    that Whites do not know what racism is lets them off the hook; thereby
    making their guilt and shame at all the unearned benefits they receive
    that much easier to bear.

    A thread that runs through all such questions is that racism is the same
    as any other kind of discrimination, when Blacks know that
    institutional racism is never practiced by Blacks against Whites. The
    idea being that Whites have suffered as much from racism as Blacks. But,
    when asked for historical examples, Whites can furnish none because the
    historical record proves that the White race is the racist race.

  • I love how it’s seemingly impossible for black people to be considered “racist”….just the way most carry themselves around white people, the things they say…I’m a young white male with a shaved head and I can’t tell you how many black guys have said “what’re you a skinhead?” or “you some kinda nazi?” give me a break, so i don’t like having to wash my hair, that doesn’t mean i’m a skinhead it means i’m lazy, and i like the look of my scalp, big deal, black dudes shave their heads all the damn time. that’s like me coming up to a black dude with a really poorly done tattoo and saying “oh you must’ve gotten that in prison” it’s competely ignorant. i don’t care how you wanna look at it, at least around where i’ve grown up, black people are groomed to be racist and lookout for the white guy, it’s complete bulls**t, be your f****** selves and not what MTV shows you. also, if black folks can say “n****r” so incredibly freely so too can us irish, as if our ancestors weren’t slaves themselves, look it up. you aren’t entitled to certain treatment because of being born a certain color, as if that’s something you achieved, or something you even chose, it was an accident, quit having so much god damn pride in a genetic accident. all of you, italian american, irish american, african american…who the f*** cares, you haven’t accomplished anything simply by being born what you are.

  • Cherry Coke

    This is satire, plain and simple. White comedians are quite adept at this form of comedy. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

  • Emimilove

    All of these videos should be “Sh*t Ignorant People Say.” I’m white, but I’m frequently mistaken as being Japanese. Usually people say something true but stereotypical of the Japanese, and try to cover it up out of fear of sounding racist. They didn’t sound stupid until they tried to hide something that was fine. 

  • MixedUpInVegas

    Maybe someitmes we assume too much.  My late husband grew up in South Dakota on a hog farm during WWII.  He had never seen a black person before he went into the Army.  There was no ingrained prejudice for him.  He simply accepted his platoon buddies and went about the duties assigned.  My second husband grew up in northern California and went to military school.  Race wasn’t in issue in his life either.  Not all white people grew up with the same experiences as some people of color.

    I grew up as a military brat, surrounded by all races and ethnicities.  Racism wasn’t much of a concern, although the outside world made it clear that it was an issue off-base.  I honestly believe that not all white people felt that they were all that different from anyone else.  For the most part, I still find that to be true in my professional and personal life

  • luvlychoc

    Racism aint going ANYWHERE! The truth is that white people have wronged black people and other races in history and they got away with it! there is still an extremely high amount of racial injustice in the country on a daily basis and black people aint gonna let it go!! It’s hard to when it continues to happen. So we all need to just accept it and find a way to co-exist the best way we can. There’s really no way around it! It is what it is. I experience racism all the time! when i go into a beauty supply store i get followed around. I DON’T STEAL!!! If I’m upset or having a problem with someone then I’m “bitter”…it never stops!

    My biggest problem with racism is that people who truly ARE racist refuse to admit it. My boyfriend is a Hebrew Israelite man, he HATES white people and when he’s out preaching white folks call him and his Israelite brothers racist and they say “you’re right! we are racist! but we’re not fake about the sh’t! we will tell you to your face! you devils are too much of a coward to admit that you are!” Black people were cursed in the bible…everything we experience today is prophecy…we just gotta endure!

    • Mpeters1

      I am so sorry to hear about the way you are treated at your hairdressers.  I would report them to the police if I were there and ask you to sit with me.  Is there any other shop you can go to.
      I am Scottish descent and was brought up much differently than to be racist against anyone by my father.
      May God Bless you and success in all you do.

  • Dtuskey1

    Wait a minute – I can’t stop laughing at both videos. I think they are a hilarious and accurate spoof of the communication experts . . . women. Where I grew up, I can promise you, no white woman/girl would dare talk to a black woman/girl that way and vice versa. But then again I’m talking Concrete Kids (city people born and raised on the South Side – both black and white). What I just watched was suburban middle-class white females acting like being from the ghetto is so cool, they must copy it; but only the good parts. If one is from a city’s black or white ghettos, we know there are no good parts.

    These videos are great and if looking in the mirror makes some people uncomfortable it is because they see their real ugliness & skin color isn’t it.

  • Mpeters1

    When I was about 12 my parents had a birthday party for me and everyone in the class was invited.  A good friend of mine even today was there.  One of the other girls said to her How come you are a different color from us.  As always my dad was sitting in his rocking chair behind a newspaper.  All of a sudden he stood up and said I want all  of you to stand around our dining room table and put your right hand on the table.  The he ripped a piece from the corner of his newspaper and asked everyone in turn “What color is this”  Everyone said white.  Ok he said all of you are right.  Then he took the piece of paper and held it up to each hand on the table and said –are you the same color as this paper and everyone said no.  He said that is right no one is white, we are all a shade of brown.  God made people with different colors as he did the mountains and whether a mountain is high or low, or tan, brown, red or light sandy color or low it is important to know that people also were made with different colors and that all are equally important.  At the graduation, so many years ago, the young girl who wondered about another girls color, repeated what my father said.  She thanked my father for teaching her that all people are equal.  It is the kind of life you make for yourself that counts and not to associate with anyone who flaunts the law no matter what color a person is.

  • Britt

    LMAO!!! Reverse racists?! Oh white people, white people coming up with all kind of ish…you can’t be racist when it comes to them, only reverse racists…get outta here with that.

  • darkman

    The video is funny, period. I heard white people say this kind of stuff, especially about black people hair. When something is funny and based on reality, it’s just funny. Why should people should only make fun of their own race? Black on  black, jewish on jewish, black on black? What next: woman on woman, men on men, gay on gay, kid on kid, teacher on teacher?

    BTW, there is no reverse racism. Racism is the same whether the moron is black, white or jewish. Admit a reverse racism means there is a right racism and a wrong racism.

    • darkman

      I skipped “white on white” (Am I racist)?

  • Guest

    Following the definition of racism presented in this article, the title of this article is racist. Grouping all white people together as one is just the same as some of the satirical comments in the video grouping black people together as one. Assuming that all white people do not know what they are talking about when they critique a video is to assume that minorities have a better understanding, which is a gross over-generalization. I am a member of a minority group, and I find this article and some aspects of the video offensive.

  • Pahleeze

    LOL!! The video is funny because like any other comedian joking about racism whether Black or not its based on some truth. Especially that part about why isnt there a W.E.T. how many times does that come up when it comes to entertainment I lost count. :-p Its funny ok get over it

  • Whites know exactly what racism is since they benefit most from it. (After all, if I benefit from a lottery win I cannot not know this.) Like the Devil, Whites simply pretend the evil they create does not exist so that they can continue benefiting from it.

  • LadyLark

    Wait a minute….why the big deal?  Didn’t these videos start jokingly generalizing like EVERYONE?! Women, Gays, Men, parents…everyone?! ‘We’ say something and it’s problem. {shrug}

  • LadyLark

    In reply to: ‘white people, who are coming to the racism game a little late, might not truly know what the word, the belief and the corresponding actions might look like’…

    I agree to some extent but REALLY, I think white people (generally speaking) have a tendency towards redefining every(dang)thing for the social benefit of themselves as a race. They often don’t think/know they ARE racist because they’re constantly trying to redefine what the word means FOR THEM alone. To them we can be racist for calling them on ignorance but they can only be ‘experts’ on everything that they don’t know about us. {oh great niggerologists as “Bamboozled” once pointed out.} For instance, psy 101 and developmental psy classes teach that genetic intellect is determined by race!  Que que?!!! …And who writes these textbooks?! They actually have a hierarchy or race-based intellectual totem pole of superiority and inferiority so to speak: White (smartest by nature-according to them), Asians (next on totem pole), and every other race down to us (peoples of African/Hamitic decent) as last. And all of this stemming from the teaching of evolution…wow!

    …Go back that far into mankinds truth issues and we’ll all discover why white people might not truly know what the word, the belief and the corresponding actions might look like.

    • Brendamdn

      People of ALL races/colors/creeds have experienced crippling discrimination at some point in history. When my white, Irish Catholic mother moved to England to work, there were signs everywhere saying “no Catholics allowed.” Even today, if you walk down a street filled with white people in Belfast, you couldn’t tell me who is Protestant and who is Catholic. But I could tell you. In Montana, kids will look right at you and say there’s no racism in their community … oh, except that they make fun of Mormons a lot. In Israel, life is easier if you’re a European Jew than an Arabic Jew. Cubans hate Mexicans. One of my good friends likes to point out that when his black grandfather was growing up in Pittsburgh, the worst thing you could be was Italian. So please, let’s banish the whole “you don’t know how bad I have it” thing.There are very few ethnicities on this continent who have not known the pain of persecution. The best revenge is to rise above it and move on.

  • Smacks_hoes

    Ehh racist topics bore me to tears….the sooner people realize there’s no such thing as “races” the better off we will all be…..

    • LadyLark

      …and that’s another topic that’ll bake a noodle because racists don’t want to hear that they’re the same as everyone else, it would remove elitism, as God only created the human race… But man without knowledge of the true God created races and racism…A REAL PROBLEM FOR MANY. Food bores the full person with storehouses to tears as he can pick it up and leave it whenver he wants. Not so for the starving.

    • Moniapree

      Race does exist, regardless of who created them.  Im proud of my race and dont want to deny my race b/c others say they dont exist.  Now people are saying that genders dont exist.  Race, gender, sexuality, etc all exist.  People just choose to mistreat them which is wrong.

      • darkman

        According to scientist, human races don’t exist: we are identical over 95%. Skin color, shape of eyes, nose are not sufficient to identifiy race. Racism is just a way to force an alledged superiority and take down whoever look different. And when they can’t, they use other means: xenophobia, anti-semitism, etc.

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    when white folks get called out on their sh!t, it’s racism. check, got it. . .

  • Brothafromthesamemotha

    definition of racism according to your flawed article: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities”. That’s exactly what this video does, ergo it is racism. So why all the crying? Has been done the other way around for centuries.

    • vwells1

      How about you grab the whole definition brotha…

    • No Fleas

       So in your twisted logic, two or more wrongs make a right.  Brilliant.

  • chichi

    FACT: for the record there is absolutely no such
    thing as reverse racism!!!!  This is a
    myth !!! As person who works for social justice issues like anti-racism,
    minorities are not the dominate power in society so the systemic and
    institutional powers favour white people. 
    A white person may want to say that they have experienced racism, but I
    am sorry being the only white person at an event and feeling uncomfortable
    being in a diverse place and coming to the realization of your whiteness being
    the other for a change, is not in the same comparison as being a black person
    everyday in a white dominate and privileged world!!!  Sorry that the topic of racism makes mainstream
    White America so uncomfortable, but it’s a reality and there needs to be a stop
    to silencing a prevalent issue in this white dominate society we live in!!! It
    seems that it comes back to Black people being racist or pulling the race card because
    we call it like it is!!

    • Coocoo

      you are the most ignorant social justice worker I’ve met. In fact, you shouldn’t be out on the streets working in this field at all. See if walmart hires, that’s better for you.
      Of course there is reverse racism. It just cannot be applied to the incident you are stating. Read some books and open your eyes to reality and by all means change profession.

      • LadyLark

        I’m not chichi but reading this you sound biased and yet don’t prove or explain your statement as to why there IS reverse racism. Sounds like a lot of unfounded and unnecessary name calling here.

        I think ‘there’s no reverse racism’ (to me) means that persons that have been the target of racism who respond to said racism cannot be racist as they are only responding to the inhumane treatment of a tyrant and not initiating or inflicting any hate on someone FOR THIER RACE. (I’m not yelling I’m just emphasizing-LOL)

        However, if what you mean to say is that white people ALSO have experienced acts of racism then you should just say that, but it doesn’t prove or mean that there IS ‘reverse racism.’

        I’m just sayin’ (another colloquialism ‘we’ say)


      What an idiotic statement.

    • LadyLark

      I agree totally with you chichi. Plus, I personally think theres a certain fear that the overprivileged white dominant part of society has when people (even their own kind) speak up against racial injustice and ignorance and try to level the field for all. To me it’s almost like teaching the slaves to read means they’ll find out that the bible doesn’t condone slavery. LOL

      They don’t want to talk about it or give it credence as real because they’re afraid (as a general whole) things may change or that on an individual level they may be exposed to some thinking they have themselves that needs adjustment.


    • Pahleeze

      I live in the Caribbean and yes they are in the minority here and NO they dont act like they would in the states because the majority is Blacks. So it can happen.

    • reese

      Racism can be towards whites especially with so many minorities in power now.  If Oprah wouldn’t hire white people that would be racism.  There are alot of non whites in powerful positions these days.

  • NikkitaMichelle

    If a wise crack is made about black people and we say something we’re being overly sensitive, because we know there’s no more racism because the president is black.  But if we call them on the dirt that they do, that they’re too ignorant to even realize that their doing it, now it’s some form of reverse racism. Give me a break.

    • Sugar_Spice

      EXACTLY, that’s the main reason why people are up in arms about her video is because they know this is stuff that they really do say.  


      I agree there is no such thing as reverse racism.  But why do so many blacks feel like it’s perfectly fine to make racist comments, practice bigotry, and hold prejudices against whites?  Why do we get a pass when it comes to that kind of behavior? 

      Putting an end to racism is never going to happen until we take some responsibility for the dirt WE do.  It’s not just whites who need educating.  We could use some, too. 

    • anon

       “reverse racism” is still just racism. white people aren’t racists and black people aren’t reverse racists. whites and blacks can both be racist.

      • There is no such thing as Reverse Racism. It was invented by Whites to pretend Blacks can be racist when there is no benefit for Blacks in being so. If there were, in which Black country – anywhere in the world – does a Black majority openly discriminate against a White minority?
        In a White supremacist environment such as the United States, Black racism can have no effect on the majority because Blacks control no institutions: Blacks cannot be institutionally-racist in such a culture. This all-important context – the elephant in the room – is essential for Whites to evade in order to continue receiving the unearned privileges of being born White in a country which valorizes Whiteness while disparaging Blackness.

        Belief in reverse racism is nothing more than an attempt to distract from wider issues of the institutional nature of racism in the US; by pretending that such does not exist – only individuals being racist.

        Only a guilt-ridden and shame-filled White could ever believe something so obviously false.

        • No Fleas

           Racists do not have to openly discriminate for it to be racism… you all hide behind your technicalities but bottom line is there are as many black racists as whites, maybe more.

          • Who are ‘you all’?

            Historical facts, correctly interpreted, are not technicalities but the truth.

            How many Black racists are there?

            How many White racists are there?

            From where do you source any of your claims?

            The truth is that you are a negrophobe wishing to blame your own White supremacism on those you fear.

          • Alexander Michael White


      • Shadowboxer

        Thank God. I cringe when I hear people use the term. Usually eyes glaze over.

  • I found this today by accident.  Where do I start?  I am white.  So what?  I am a male, 55 years old, people are just people to me.  I don’t make things any harder than life already makes them.   Just treat all people like people, color to me never mattered.  What matters is what we teach our kids.  The comment about killing “us” in trees, etc., why do people say those things? Some of my friends are different colors, other different sexes. It just matters that we get along just like everyone else I meet. Have a good day, and be nice to everyone.

    • NikkitaMichelle

      It would be nice if we lived in a world where we all could just have a coke and a smile, but too many are way to bitter for it to be that simple.  I appreciate your comment.  Be blessed.

  • Gena

    What was so racist about that? All of the stuff she said was true. White people say some things that are a tad bit inappropriate so she shed some light on it. It’s no different with the “S**t that ______ say.” So I guess it was better when they started killing us in trees or shooting us or burning crosses in front of a lawn….