Charles Ramsey did something extraordinary.
He intervened and saved three young women who had been held in a hellish environment for years. He’s a hero flat out, but the treatment of him in media and social media spaces has been truly questionable.
He’s not a joke.
This FB page is designed to bring attention to the mockery that’s been passed around online and offer real respect to someone who did what police couldn’t seem to do.
There are many there who would say that those memes are just people joshing with Mr. Ramsey, just pointing out his affectations in a good natured way. I don’t think that’s true. Harris’ article points out numerous memes and autotuned versions of statements people of color have made, created to highlight their difference and cast them in a jester role, a fool.
This is not ok and indeed is part of racism. It’s that “default” thing where a particular class and color merge together to be normal and acceptable. It’s usually “best” if you get both the upper middle classness and the whiteness, but one will lift you up out of role of clown, not having either will get you on YouTube immediately in a case like this, and mocked widely.
What’s horrible about it is that this man did something that we keep saying we want people to do! Intervene! Not by stand! Will being an internet fixture help or hinder others from taking action? What he did was serious business, not a joke. He saved four lives, the three women and one child, and universe only knows what else would have happened to them if he hadn’t of acted.
As noted in the CSM piece:
Does Ramsey feel like a hero?
“No. No, no, no. Bro, I’m a Christian and an American, I’m just like you,” he told Anderson Cooper. “We bleed the same blood. Put our pants on the same way… It’s just that you got to put that being a coward, ‘I don’t want to get into anybody’s business,’ you got to put that away for a minute.
And yet the memes abound and they are based in racism and classism, you will not convince me otherwise.
Harris sums up her piece on Slate perfectly:
Describing the rescue of Amanda Berry and her fellow captives, he says, “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway!”
The candid statement seems to catch the reporter off guard; he ends the interview shortly afterward. And it’s notable that among the many memorable things Ramsey said on camera, this one has gotten less meme-attention than most. Those who are simply having fun with the footage of Ramsey might pause for a second to actually listen to the man. He clearly knows a thing or two about the way racism prevents us from seeing each other as people.
Every time jokes are made mocking this man, we fail to see who he truly is, a hero. Every time, we refuse to look in the mirror and see what motivates those jokes. It’s race. We own him much more than this treatment and the system is real. We ignore that at our own risk.