The Troubling Viral Trend Of The Hilarious Ghetto Neighbor

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Charles Ramsey, the Cleveland man who discovered missing teens Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, spoke to Cleveland’s NBC affiliate yesterday, pushing back on the “hero” label that’s been affixed to him since his video interview went viral.

“I don’t even want it,” Ramsey said of the attention. “They keep saying I’m a hero. Let me tell you something — I’m an American, and I’m a human being. I’m just like you. I work for a living. There was a woman in distress, so why turn your back on that?”

Ramsey, the man who helped rescue three Cleveland women presumed dead after going missing a decade ago, has become an instant Internet meme. It’s hardly surprising—the interviews he gave yesterday provide plenty of fodder for a viral video, including memorable soundbites (“I was eatin’ my McDonald’s”) and lots of enthusiastic gestures. But as Miles Klee and Connor Simpson have noted, Ramsey’s heroism is quickly being overshadowed by the public’s desire to laugh at and autotune his story, and that’s a shame.Ramsey has become the latest in a fairly recent trend of “hilarious” black neighbors, unwitting Internet celebrities whose appeal seems rooted in a “colorful” style that is always immediately recognizable as poor or working-class.

It’s difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform. Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into themost basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the “ghetto,” socially out of step with the rest of educated America. Black or white, seeing Clark and Dodson merely as funny instances of random poor people talking nonsense is disrespectful at best. And shushing away the question of race seems like wishful thinking.

Guess Who Is Running For Mayor Of The District, Would You Vote For This Woman?

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D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) announced that she’s tossing her hat into the ring as a candidate for the April 2014 Democratic Party primary for mayor. She promised to be a trustworthy leader and to embrace a vision for the city that includes all D.C. residents.

Bowser, 40, said that her run is a natural progression.

“The voters trusted me to represent them as an ANC commissioner,” she told Rock Newman. “They trusted me to represent them as your council member. I share their desire to move forward and  announced that I would run to be the next mayor of the District of Columbia.”

Bowser, a District native, was elected a commissioner in 2004 and served in that position until she was elected to replace Adrian Fenty on the D.C. Council in May 2007. Fenty was elected the District’s mayor in November 2006.

On the D.C. Council, Bowser is known to be responsive to constituent concerns. She’s also respected for her principled positions. In December 2011, Bowser made her mark. Her landmark legislation overhauled the city’s ethics rules for elected officials and District government employees.

Bowser is the first official candidate to enter the 2014 mayoral race but D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) has formed an exploratory committee for a run and D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) has indicated that he will run, as well.