The following post originally appeared on VICE, and was written by Dave Schilling. It’s original title is, “Stop Using Black People As Props for Viral Videos.”
By: Dave Schilling
Welcome to a special “hood pranks” edition of This Week in Racism. I’ll be ranking s**tty internet videos on a scale of one to RACIST, with “one” being the least racist and “RACIST” being the most racist.
You may not know this, but there’s more on YouTube than cat videos, video game commentaries, make-up tips, excellent VICE documentaries, and Gangnam Style. “Hood Pranks” is one of the most popular video genres on YouTube, and the creators rack up millions of views by exploiting the simple premise that poor black people are funny to take advantage of.
Hood Prank videos vary in style and subject matter, but their structure is fairly uniform. A group of white dudes—usually in a pack of two to four—venture into a predominantly black (or Latino) neighborhood and do something to purposefully antagonize a group of strangers. These strangers, of course, live in an urban nightmare hellscape of violence, drug abuse, and constant fear. You can probably see the wellspring from which the comedy erupts from a mile away, right?
If the history of American popular culture is any indication, no one’s ever gone broke from taking advantage of poor black people, so kudos to you, Hood Prankers! You are carrying on a noble tradition; from Phil Spector to Donald Sterling, you are in good company.
–In this video, two well-meaning, but nerdy white guys go up to unsuspecting black folks and ask them if they “have a problem.” Umm, yes they do. Lack of access to fresh food, a broken andpoorly funded public education system, and a dearth of affordable housing. Oh, wait. This is aprank video. Never mind.
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