So I’m sure you’ve all heard of him- Charles Ramsey, the man who is credited with saving the three women held captive for over TEN YEARS in Cleveland. His interview went viral, due to his quirky phrases and instant likeability. About six catchphrases have come out of this guy’s mouth, but I think the one that hit me most is when Ramsey was describing Amanda Berry running out the door to him.
“I knew something was wrong when a little, pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway.”
What Ramsey assumedly meant as a flippant comment is seemingly funny on the outside- but farther down, speaks to a much more troubling truth. Somehow, race has found its way into this story of a heroic man. Instead of focusing on his actions, everything is tinged with a hint of awkwardness, because the media insists on framing the story around his race and history, instead of his heroics.
Everything I’ve read about Ramsey is endearing. He heard Amanda Berry screaming all the way from his living room, and came outside to investigate. He lost sleep over the fact that this man was living next door to him. He denied allegations of being a hero, because, as he claimed “I should have done this a year ago when I moved in.”
Ramsey, who works as a dishwasher at a nearby restaurant, has refused people’s attempts to help him financially in reward for his good deed. Apparently he would prefer to give the money to the families of the victims.
“I’m not a hero for helping this woman. I was raised to help women and damsels in distress,” Ramsey reported.
His interview- which if you haven’t watched, you need to, immediately- is hysterical. It’s been autotuned several times already. Some people find it offensive that the internet has turned him into a meme. But I don’t.
What I have a problem with is that following Ramsey’s sudden stardom, several news sources decided to look into Ramsey’s past, and published information on various domestic violence cases that he was involved in, dating from around 1997 to 2003.
Following this, Ramsey was questioned about his history, and he acknowledged it. According to a TMZ interview, (I know, I hate having to source TMZ) Ramsey claims that he used his past to become a better person.
“Those incidents helped me become the man I am today and are the reason why I try to help the community as much as I can,” Ramsey told TMZ. The article continued on to mention that his ex-wife (who was the recipient of the domestic violence) did say that Ramsey apologized for his actions and that the two of them are on okay terms now.
I’m not for a second defending Ramsey’s actions ten years ago, let me be clear on that. But just answer this question: why, when this man is being held up as a hero, would we go and check into his criminal background? Why, when he rescued women from a man who held them for over ten years, repeatedly raping and abusing them, is Ramsey’s criminal background pertinent? And furthermore, why is his race even being brought into this?
In an article for Slate, Aisha Harris wonders if the internet only finds Ramsey funny because people are making fun of the quirky black man, and deep down, as a culture we have a desire to see the quirky black man perform. I can’t tell you if this is true. I wish I could, and I wish I could say it was definitively false.
However, I believe that for the most part, his stardom has nothing to do with his race. He’s a character. He’s larger than life. The internet is welcoming him, celebrating him. When they found out about his criminal history, the internet forgave him.
Some, in light of his domestic abuse charges, have compared him to Chris Brown. I’ve got news for you- there’s a hell of a lot of famous white guys who abused their significant others too.
However the question must be asked if the only reason his criminal record was dragged up was because of his race. While I am not typically the sort of person to jump onto these things, it seems like the rational conclusion. Ramsey’s flippant remark about Amanda Berry running into his arms speaks to a larger and troubling truth about the race relations in Cleveland.
Here’s another thing to consider. According to an interview on Monday, Ramsey claimed that the entire reason he went to Amanda Berry’s aid is because he thought she was caught up in some kind of domestic dispute.
He may have a background, but that one action shows more than anything that Charles Ramsey has learned from his mistakes, changed, and grown- and redeemed himself three times over. The man served his time for his mistakes, so let him have his time in the spotlight for his good actions. The fact of that matter is that Charles Ramsey acted quickly, and that one moment of action saved the lives of four people, and put an end to their almost never ending fear and terror.
So criminal history or no, black, white, or purple, whether you think you’re a hero or not, thank you Charles Ramsey.
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
- Click to print (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)