After posting a tweet that both mocked the Black Lives Matter movement and peddled in racist tropes, former Evo champion Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez has been banned from several fighting game events. This includes an indefinite suspension from Capcom-related tournaments.
Ramirez has always been known as something of a heel in the fighting game community, eagerly playing the part of a villain during his heyday as one of the best Marvel vs. Capcom 3 players in the world. But there have been several indications over the years that what many considered an act was really just his personality. The facade slipped for good this past weekend when Ramirez tweeted a picture of a watermelon with the caption “#WatermelonLivesMatter”.
Watermelons have long been used as a racist trope against Black people, and coupled with a riff on the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s clear what message Ramirez was meaning to send. Many in the fighting game community spoke out against the tweet, with two major tournaments — East Coast Throwdown and Combo Breaker — quickly handing down bans from future events. Ramirez eventually deleted the offending tweet.
Ramirez later offered a half-hearted apology, which was then negated completely by several angry tweets to fighting game player and commentator David “UltraDavid” Graham, who Ramirez called a “bitch” and accused of “double dipping on shit” when Graham thanked the tournament organisers for stepping in. Some also drew parallels to a recent situation involving Skullgirls developer Mike Zaimont making an “I can’t breathe” joke on stream. Zaimont apologised and has not faced any consequences.
Today, Capcom joined the growing crowd of voices indicting Ramirez, banning him from its events for the foreseeable future for a violation of the Capcom Pro Tour’s code of conduct.
It’s hard to imagine such action being taken even just a few years ago. There exist countless examples of Ramirez pushing boundaries in the past, but nothing was ever done, most likely due to his status as a top player. And he’s not the only one. The current moment, during which the United States is coming to grips with its history of racism and ongoing prejudice in every part of society, has pushed community leaders to finally address these problems. It should have started a lot sooner, but it’s better than nothing.