Let’s All Say ‘Thank You’ and Avoid Mocking Charles Ramsey

Thank-You

This week Charles Ramsey unknowingly helped save three women from a hellish nightmare of captivity. On a regular Sunday night in Cleveland, Charles Ramsey rushed to the house next door to respond to what he thought was a domestic dispute. Unbeknownst to Ramsey, he wasn’t interrupting domestic violence, but freeing three women from years of imprisonment.

The three victims are: Amanda Berry, Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, and Michelle Knight.

Amanda Berry was last seen in 2003, at age 17, after finishing her shift at Burger King; Georgina “Gina” DeJesus disappeared at age 14 in 2004, and Michelle Knight vanished in August 2002, at age 21. These women, presumed dead by their family and community members, had been held hostage by a neighbor of Ramsey’s who had gone undetected for over ten years.

Charles Ramsey is an Internet sensation for a few different reasons, some not as noble as others.

First and foremost, he is lauded in the media for his valiant intervention. He deserves every accolade possible for intervening. Charles Ramsey is a hero. We can’t tell him ‘thank you’ enough. Domestic violence is not a private matter–although we live in a culture with a history that says otherwise. Charles Ramsey’s actions flew in the face of that history.

It takes unparalleled fortitude to intervene when violence is happening next door, because many people still find solace in the tired trope of “it’s none of our business.” Charles Ramsey knew better, saying, “You’ve got to put that being a coward and ‘I don’t want to get in nobody’s business,’ You got to put that away for a minute.” We couldn’t agree more.

But Charles Ramsey is an Internet sensation for another reason: he is a working-class black man, and our culture loves the opportunity to fetishize Black bodies, especially when race intersects with a working-class positionality. The voices of black men, especially working-class black men, are not given their fair share of time at the mic, and when given the opportunity, Charles Ramsey gave his local news syndicate an amazing recap of a panic-inducing situation. He was intelligent, funny, and honest in his interview, and that in and of itself deserves our respect.

So we are asking, no, pleading, that you take a minute to think about Charles Ramsey as a person before you post a meme, auto-tune, or GIF. Ask yourself, “would this be funny if he was a white guy? Or is this just racist?” Gene Demby said it best in his article, “Are We Laughing With Charles Ramsey?:”

On the face of it, the memes, the Auto-Tune remixes and the laughing seem purely celebratory. But what feels like celebration can also carry with it the undertone of condescension. Amid the hood backdrop — the gnarled teeth, the dirty white tee, the slang, the shout-out to McDonald’s — we miss the fact that Charles Ramsey is perfectly lucid and intelligent.

If you want to post anything about or for Charles Ramsey in the name of celebration, why not just try a simple ‘thank you?’

Comments

  1. I would like to say thankyou to every one whos donated so far,for bringing us a little closer to our goal, and a little closer to present this gift of love to this extraordinary young woman. if you havent already there is still time just click on the link below! THANKYOU

    http://www.gofundme.com/Amanda-Berry

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