I didn’t grab any shoes or nothing, Lord Jesus!

Sweet Brown excitedly tells Oklahoma City television station KFOR about the three-alarm apartment fire she survived. And purveyors of ironically racist viral Internet memes nearly orgasm with delight. This afternoon, Gawker proclaimed Sweet Brown the Web’s next hot viral video meme.

Remember Antoine Dodson and the once-inescapable “Bed Intruder Song”? I wrote about the Dodson meme on Change.org:

I can’t help thinking that Dodson’s new-found popularity is not about shared frustration over crime or violence against women. On threads around the ‘net, Dodson is branded “hilarious.” But what is so funny about Antoine Dodson? Part of the Dodson meme is, I fear, about laughing at mannerisms that the mainstream associates with blackness, gayness and poverty. There is nothing amusing about a young woman assaulted in her home. And so, I worry that people are laughing at Antoine: his flamboyance and perceived gayness; his use of black colloquialisms, like “run tell dat,” his grammar and accent. Read more…

I believe Sweet Brown found a place on the popular Gawker site today for nearly the same reasons. It’s her bright head scarf. It’s the gold teeth that keep flashing as she speaks. It’s the way she unabashedly calls on her god. It’s the way she says Lord Jesus, it’s faahr! in a drawl that speaks of the backwoods. It’s her emotionalism. It’s her very name: Sweet Brown.

Sweet Brown is so country. So poor. So uneducated. So (stereotypically) black. For most video watchers, so other. And that makes her not a recipient of sympathy, but ridicule. (Is it just me, or at about :13 do you hear someone in the KFOR newsroom tittering?) But knee-jerk amusement at the “other” may keep us from asking critical questions.

For instance, what other witnesses did news producers overlook to bring us Sweet Brown? In her book Reality Bites Back, Jennifer Pozner writes about how reality TV producers seek out characters that provide drama, including those that reinforce stereotypes about race and gender. In a rapidly shifting media landscape, has this thinking made it into the newsroom, effecting the way reality reality is presented?

When bad things happen to poor, country, uneducated, stereotypically black people, is it not still a tragedy? Or just funny? Because what the folks who forward this video to you probably won’t add is that the fire at Brown’s apartment complex burned five units and left 44 without electricity. The Red Cross has set up a shelter for residents. No laughing matter at all.

  • Nicole83

    She thought someone was “ba-ba-cuing!” Lawd, help us all. Airing her interview served no purpose at all. At least no noble purpose.

  • HowApropos…

    They put themselves out there to be judged however way…

    *shrug*

  • Shan

    I think she is awesome.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    there is an ad with a link to the sweet brown video on the antoine video on youtube.

  • Shirl

    Actually I think she’s kinda sweet. I bet she’s the lady in the neighborhood that everybody know and loves. She seems like she always has a smile on her face and a kind word. I bet that’s how she got her name.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    Tami,

    My bad but all that you said is null and void with a name like sweet brown. I LAUGHED!-SHOOT ME!

  • Velma

    I loved it. :) We all have to realize that everybody doesn’t speak “perfect english” with the most popular dialect! Sheesh. I thought she was authentic and upbeat.

  • Kesha

    Personally, I find sweet brown, well, sweet. But aside from that, I hardly think that the news anchor and crew that chose to air her thought the same. They probably singled her out as a stereotype that would add “color” (no pun intended) to their piece. This is bad, distasteful, and unethical journalism if you ask me.

  • Ocean Blue

    I understand that there are a lot of uneducated people in the city, but no matter what, the local news here has no trouble in finding the most dull-witted person to interview for a story.

    One year, a local station did a story about the amount of time that is allowed for central booking to hold people. Of course, the people who were interviewed were stereotypical Black guys. One guy said, “Man, they had me innere for 24 hours, 24 hours and anova 24 hours. Man thas alotta 24 hours!”

    Another time, there was a story about a special education kid who climbed onto a school roof. They interviewed one girl who said, “I was finna to slap somebody cuz dey was laffin!”

  • Curiouser

    OK. I have a serious question here.
    Please — somebody — answer it!

    I want to know if my “I LOVE ALL OF MY PEOPLE OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA” card should be revoked, because I think Sweet Brown is funny for being so quintessentially theatrical and melodramatic?

    Am I wrong to think that we enjoy the Sweet Browns and the Antoine Dodsons of the world, because they:

    1. clearly LOVE that opportunity for 15-minutes of fame, which they probably never would have gotten but for the tragic event being reported on.

    2. speak dramatically.

    3. speak “differently” (regional dialect/accent).

    I love black people.
    I love Sweet Brown.
    I hope she profits big time from the video
    memes that will be made from her statement!

  • Curiouser

    Please tell me you’ve made up these stories for a comedy sketch you’re working on, because the first one is HILARIOUS!!!!!!

  • Ocean Blue

    Unfortunately, I am not making that up. I wish I could find the footage for you, but it was quite some years ago now and I don’t remember which news station it was.

  • Please Excuse Me

    Sweet Brown made me laugh…I wish her and the others well and that they get their new homes ASAP.

  • Pearlsrevealed

    The guys who turned Antoine Dodson’s comments into a song and an itunes hit have mostly made fun of common white folks.

    Because of Dodson’s accidental fame I am sure the news crew who chose to air Brown’s comments felt they have a good chance of being immortalized by the Gregory Brothers.

    The bottom line is that Sweet Brown and Dodson were hilarious.We cannot control why or what some people laugh choose to laugh at.

  • Pearlsrevealed

    Dang that was funny. LOL.

  • Jane

    So, are you saying she should not have been interviewed? Should the reporter have found a resident that behaved like a white person? Come on! She is a real resident and she was willing to be interviewed. Don’t turn her into a victim. She’s dramatic, she’s awesome and we wish her the best.

    p.s. She lives near me and I can attest we are not “country”, but your prejudice against “country” is showing.

  • Zaza

    Um no. Instead of patronizing this woman with this defense, it’s time we started letting people be accountable for their own behavior. Why is it ‘racist’ to show this woman as she is?

    I’d say it’s more ‘racist’ that articles like this seem to be embarrassed of these types of people, happier that they aren’t acknowledged and pretending that they are just ‘sterotypes’. Black people like this exist, why try to deny it? Some people want to pretend the only type of black people that exist are like Michelle and Barack.

    There are high class, low class, country, city, smart, stupid, eloquent, trashtalking people in every race. I’m sorry but this woman was funny, if she was white and behaving the same way I wouold still have found her funny, she was laughing herself!

    Stop taking it so personally because ONE black person decides to act foolish, she is no reflection on me, any more than I am on her.

  • QCastle

    I was thinking the same thing. She i s cute and her accent was adorable. Im not feeling the gold tooth but she seems like a sweet charming lady. Bless her.

  • QCastle

    She wasnt acting foolish she is just country and folksy. George Bush won an election and Sarah Palin tried to win one with their down home folksiness. I want to have a beer with Sweet Brown.

  • QCastle

    @Jane

    Something tells me that in her neck of the woods, white or black, they all sound country as hell.

  • befree

    This article reeks with classism. She seems like a nice, folksy woman. There is nothing wrong with being country and there is nothing wrong with having an animated personalty, I am so over “what will white folks think” as a barometer of how ANY black person should act. I am glad some folks have sense to see this lady was just being herself. She was not inappropriate, did not use foul language and came off with a positive about something that could have been very dangerous.

  • befree

    BTW it does smell like somebody is barbeque when a house is on fire.

  • mamareese

    She seemed sweet, glad she made it out ok. It’s only a big deal if we make it a big deal folks.

  • Zaza

    That’s your interpretation and that’s fine. If there was a fire in my apartment block I wouldn’t be laughing about it on the 9′o’clock news,yes that’s foolish behavior to me.

  • Zaza

    Anyway, I think we’re all missing the point Ms Brown made. Bronchitis: ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that!’ True that, true that *nods head*

  • Jane

    Q, you’re probably right, there! Ha! I reckon we’re proud to be country, though! : )

  • kidole

    I’m glad she made it out with her life!

  • http://stephanietalktome.blogspot.com Stephanie

    Hilarious! LOL! C’mon, we all need a good laugh every now and then.

    It’s just interesting how the news reporters always manage to find the craziest black person to put on tv. lol. But I guess that’s the neighborhood? Ok.

  • Bee

    +100

  • Bee

    (hopefully no double posts) @Zaza: Agreed! I’m tired of classist better than thou negroes who think that they are so above lesser educated black folks just because they have a few degrees and speak “proper eeennglish.” We are all black, and we should embrace our differences, and LIFT AS WE EFFING CLIMB. But, no, many of us would rather just push people down in order to feel better about ourselves. Dear Clutch, this article is full of classist bougie FAIL.

  • Bee

    Dear Clutch, this article is full of classist bougie FAIL, just as the comments about Antoine Dodson were a year ago. I think her name suits her: Sweet Brown. She seems like a sweet, warm woman. I’m glad she made it out safely.

  • The Drizzle

    It’s not just black people they find. I’m a black news reporter in Arkansas, and in the midst of our whole football coach situation, ESPN managed to come to Fayetteville (a quite progressive town btw) and found the one drunk old toothless town redneck and played one uncut 30-second-long sound bite of him acting a damn fool and basically allowing him to represent us. I thought it was shameful, but wasn’t the least big surprised that sensationalism would trump their common sense and basic journalism ethics.

  • Bee

    @QCastle: agreed!

  • iQgraphics

    I laughed
    I feel horrible…

    but that mess was funny

  • http://www.whattamisaid.com Tami Winfrey Harris

    The point of the article is not that anything is wrong with Sweet Brown. The point is that the reason sites like Gawker find people like Brown and Dodson funny is because of class and race-based biases.

  • Shirl

    Ocean Blue: that’s hilarious!! I once saw a guy being interviewed after he was arrested for rape. He said “Maine I ain’t rape nobody maine. Ion even like white gulls. My lady black”. When the reporter asked him how he knew the victim was white his response was “huh?”

  • tisme

    Be careful what you say and look beneath the surface.Consider Peen of New Castle and the reason WHY this known black woman hater agrees with you.

    You could easily look up and see nothing but Sweet Browns ashy lips and all on tv.No other kinds of black women.Though I agree she does seem sweet some might also say she looks like a drug addict.

    We have to be careful not to assist our haters.

    “Sometimes when they hate you they join you”

  • tisme

    We may love Sweet Brown but I think some of you here lack critical thinking skills.We speak of the horrible representation of black women in the media and now we desire for there to be a Sweet Brown in the media?As it stands whites are the majority we are a minority and though WE may love Sweet Brown other people will look at this as a chance to tear her apart and by extension other black women as well.Other people includes non blacks and BLACK men .

    Oh Sweet Brown will make it and many black women will complain about seeing only Sweet Browns in the media.

    “Sometimes when they hate you they join you”

  • entro

    I didn’t find anything embarrassing about Ms brown she was just an everyday woman she was actually clowning” I got bronchitis I ain’t got no time for that” why do we care what they think of us? They certainly don’t care what we think of them. As far as her so called ebonics….so what? I know I’m bilingual and some of y’all are too . Yea ah say pop too sometimes . You know they only try to shame things so they can steal it later on and claim it as their own remember they mocked “you go girl” and then using it like they invented it? I value our culture.no shame at all. I love my people

  • Ali

    I think we are all a little bit too sensitive nowadays. I think Sweet was purposely trying to be amusing for the camera and she succeeded. Chill, nobody died in this “faahr” which really should be the main focus, not this video.

  • Kam

    Once again black people not recognizing when they’re being laughed at. I really wish people understood that things in the media are carefully chosen. You should always be asking, ‘Why is this particular image being shown to me?”

  • Kym

    Omg.. Who said it wasnt a tragedy? Lighten up.. Just cus she’s black and poor doesn’t make this racist.. And plus, she laughed herself at the end..

  • http://clutch sommore

    Wait a cotton pickin day. I can see both views in this situation. As stated Sweet was laughing during
    most of the interview. And if I know my people, that was more than likely her first time being interviewed for a news story. Knowing she would surely be on the news she was excited and nervouse and she was trying to lighten the mood for herself if nothing else. She knew she didn’t
    have an apt anymore. So what else could she do but look at the bright side of a grim situation. She is still alive. However I do feel that the story was uncalled for with the direction that it took. There were families that went without. That’s news. What Sweet looked liked, and all the other stereotypes, and what color her teeth were and all the other society driven labels were clearly not needed. Handle yo Bizznass Sweet Baby. Yo peepz still luv u gal.

  • Kely

    A comparison to Antoine Dotson, really? I feel like Sweet Brown was being her sweet self & telling a story. AD on the other hand was straight giving it to the media. Yes we all like laughing at what’s different but comparing Sweet to AD is extreme.

  • Kiki

    Her real name is Kim Wilkins.

  • BB

    I think some readers here are missing the point of the article entirely. The question I believe is being asked here is “When or How do you know whether THEY are laughing WITH you or laughing AT you?”. Furthermore, some people may not stop at the conclusion that this was just a funny clip, period. They will use this clip as a means of further perpetuating or as a re-affirmation of negative stereotypes of black women as poor, inarticulate etc. I also believe this is the same question which influenced the comedian Dave Chappelle to walk away from his highly popular comedy sketch show Chappelle’s show. Correct me if I am wrong. This is a problem for us and our children because these images/ portrayals of Black American women tend to be the dominant/ preferred ones on television and film ACROSS THE WORLD. Even I know this and I am a Black woman residing in the UK.

  • Rebecca

    This is ridiculous. If ANYONE was screaming and talking directly at the camera with so much emotion sending out a widespread message directed at the intruder himself the entire country would crack up at that!

    I am a 5’2 petite super white girl. If I did that (which I would) then I would get my own t-shirt business too and endless record contracts.

    So you can run and tell that! home boy.

  • Georgia

    biotch!

  • MajaObadSmrdi

    You should just chill. Reading it way off.

  • Tarin

    People are so quick to yell racism when it’s someone who isn’t white in the punch line. But it’s completely ok to make fun of someone’s “whiteness”. No one calls that racist. Laughter is the best medicine & this white girl loves me some Sweet Brown! She’s funny & there’s nothing wrong with that! We should be able to laugh at ourselves & at each other. I have to laugh at my goofy self everyday & it makes me feel good when I can make other people laugh too even if it’s because I’m a ding-E blonde sometimes!

  • Jono

    No – people aren’t being racist in the cases of Antwan and Sweet – people are celebrating their human-ness. They are intriguing individuals with something to say, albeit differently. They are characters. We love them for that, regardless of what they have gone through. That’s all.

  • Parent Concerned

    I am troubled by the video too. My son is 11 and an urbanite but attends a school in the lilywhite suburbs. His crew at school think the video is so funny. I explained that it is her mannerisms, sterotypically black, thathe is responding too. It’;s a racist humor. I showed him Amos and Andy videos of the same mannersims played for laughs in blackface 1/2 century ago for context.

Latest Stories

Brooklyn DA Proposes to Stop Prosecuting Low-Level Marijuana Charges

by

The Doc Is In: Doc McStuffins Encourages Little Girls to Embrace Their Natural Hair

by

The FCC Gave The Internet A Big Middle Finger

by

5 Spring Beauty and Style Tips

by
Read previous post:
Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen Suspended for Comments About Fidel Casto, Is It Fair?
Latavia Roberson Just Can’t Let Go of Her Destiny’s Child Days
Close