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Franchesca Ramsey knows about not feeding the trolls.
She spent the past five years building a loyal fan base following her viral video, Shit White Girls Say To Black Girls. But with the spotlight came harassment and personal attacks. "For me the adage of ‘don’t feed the trolls’ is so real, but it is so difficult. Feeding those people is just giving them exactly what they want and that’s ultimately to distract you and keep you off of your path from what you need to achieve.”
Ramsey achieved what she needed to despite the distraction: Her viral video landed her on Fox and MSNBC. It got her an agent. And it threw her into the spotlight in a way that she had always wanted, but didn’t expect. Shit White Girls Say To Black Girls resulted in her becoming, as she calls it, an “accidental activist”, speaking out on hot-button topics like race, gender and class. Ramsey rose above the drama and went on the star in the MTV video series Decoded and write for Late Night with Larry Wilmore.
Ramsey has a new book, Well That Escalated Quickly, coming out. Being in the spotlight has helped her realize that the one woman she was hating on, comparing herself to, and criticizing was the same one she should have been learning from. It was a fellow YouTuber. Ramsey couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. Then she met her in real life. "I realized that while I was hating her I should have been studying her. She was making all of the moves that I wanted to make and I started saying ‘stop hating, start studying’. It has really helped me reframe how I think about other people who are potentially doing something that I want to do. Maybe that’s why I’m so critical of them. It’s like something in me saying ‘oh you actually really want to do that thing that they’re doing’.” The phrase ‘stop hating, start studying’ became so popular, you can buy it on a notebook as a daily reminder.
Candor and honesty runs throughout Well That Escalated Quickly, a memoir that Franchesca says was difficult to write because it required so much self reflection. “I can’t ask other people to take on the hard work of looking inward and not do it myself.” That’s how she became an accidental activist. “We would feel less stressed about trying to get it right all of the time if we could be open and willing to acknowledge that sometimes we get it wrong. And that is okay, as long as you’re committed to admitting you can get it wrong.”
Ramsey admits that being publicly called out that you “got it wrong” is hard. “You have to remember that we don’t know what we don’t know. And for me, I sometimes get frustrated...I think it’s because when you are trying to do the right thing, you get passionate about it. But you also have to remember that there are other people who just aren’t there yet. And they need help to get there. In order to do that, I have to say ‘hey there are things I didn’t know, now I know them and I want to help you understand those things as well.’ Rather than just coming from a place of ‘I know everything, you don’t and you need to be woke now’.”
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