Dive into the comments sections under Franchesca Ramsey’s YouTube videos, and you’ll find yourself on the volatile, virtual front lines of discussions about social justice in America.
Ramsey is the comedian vlogging host of the news series “MTV Decoded” which tackles issues of race, sex, religion and other cultural minefields. She burst onto the YouTube scene in 2012 with her viral video “Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls” (video below). The video features Ramsey’s signature style: gently poking fun while at the same time educating people on topics many find painful to discuss. In her video, this starts with how beginning a conversation with “not to sound racist but … ” most likely previews something offensive to come.
In less than six minutes, Ramsey’s “MTV Decoded” videos address and dissect controversial topics with the backing of historical research and evidence. In “Are Cracker, White Trash and Redneck Racist?” she explains the difference between discrimination because of class (which a person can change) and race (which one cannot). A sampling of her other videos includes: “The Surprisingly Racist History Behind the word Caucasian,” “4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Muslims,” “Are Hispanics White,” “Light Skinned Privilege” and “Everything You Know About Thanksgiving is WRONG.”
At 6 p.m. Thursday, March 21, Ramsey will give an address titled “The Internet is Changing (and Ruining) Everything” at the University of Idaho. She’ll discuss how the internet has revolutionized the way we talk about “the things that matter most — civil rights, politics, climate change and Beyoncé,” but it’s making it harder to talk to the people closest to us. She’ll share how a viral video changed her life and talk about the pitfalls and rewards of talking about race, power, sexuality and gender on the internet. Ramsey did not respond to a request for an interview by press time.
“The work she does is applicable to a lot of things we’re trying to do on campus,” said Lysa Salsbury, director of the UI Women’s Center, which partnered with the Washington State University Women’s Center to organize Ramsey’s visit to mark Women’s History month.
“She really does a good job of calling people in, rather than calling them out. She understands these issues are so hard to talk about because they’re so personal. People are going to feel defensive when they feel their identities are under attack. We really need to be thinking about these things all together if we’re going to create a space where we can all feel comfortable and heard.”
IF YOU GO
WHO: Activist Franchesca Ramsey, “The Internet is Changing (and Ruining) Everything”
WHEN: 6 Thursday, March 21; doors open at 5:30
WHERE: International Ballroom, Bruce M. Pitman Center, University of Idaho, Moscow
OF NOTE: Ramsey will sign copies of her book “Well That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist” following the address.