Charles Ramsey Shut Up This Black Bourgie Broad. Thank You, Sir.
When I first heard the clip of Charles Ramsey, the Cleveland man credited with saving three women and one baby who had been missing for 10 years, I laughed.
Here we go again, I thought as I recalled Sweet Brown of the “ain’t nobody got time for that” fame.
We’ve seen folks like Sweet Brown and Antoine Dodson (Bed Intruder viral fame) or random Black lady with rollers in her hair, talking in an animated way and folks usually laugh as they recount witnessing a crime or something newsworthy happening.
As a person of color in the media, it always bothered me.
And when I went out to cover stories, in the “hood,” yes, I interviewed these folks to get the facts. And within the rules of ethics I was taught in J-school, without changing their voice, I would correct their grammar lightly. In some cases, there is greater impact in leaving the quote as is, bad grammar and all and even allow damn or a hell to further illustrate the story.
This was not limited to just black folks in the hood, I extended this rule to white folks in trailer parks or in rural areas as well.
When Charles Ramsey’s videos started going viral, I was SOOOOOO ready to dismiss him as yet another person who will milk this 15 minutes of fame and coon it up to the highest bidder. But I can’t be mad. A come up is a come up and if he can parlay the situation into a better one for himself and his family who am I to judge?
I think America was ready to write him off as just another clown, talking about barbecuing and ribs and salsa dancing with his neighbors, the abductors of these women.
But as more interviews come out, despite memes that show striking similarities to Clarence from the barber shop in “Coming to America” I see Charles Ramsey for who he is.
I dig him. He is unapologetically himself, and he’s sincere. Yes, he’s wearing a backwards baseball cap in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, but he is passionate and still getting over the fact, that he’d been living next door for a year and never knew there were three young women being held prisoner.
His honesty is refreshing. The fact that he doesn’t like being called a hero is wonderful. The fact that when reward money was mentioned during a CNN interview, he said that he has a job, and that the women should get the money, that let me know, he’s quite cognizant of how he wants to represent himself and his own integrity as a black man. This dude has probably never had any media training in his life, and the fact that he has been able to control his image as he sees fit, with a palpable sincerity, speaks volumes to the kind of man he is.
Ha, America. You were not expecting this kind of hero.
You were not expecting this kind of black man in the form of this kind of black man.
The fact he even said out loud that it was a dead giveaway something was wrong when a “pretty, white girl” ran for safety in the arms of a black man, made me sit straight up.
He knows what society thinks of him, and he is totally aware that they are watching him and forming opinions of him.
Without totally changing who he is or his appearance or his off the cuff responses, in my opinion, he is giving a brilliant representation of a large number of voiceless black men who go to work everyday in this country.
They are not criminals. They are not rappers or athletes. Or even President Obama.
Charles Ramsey in all his glory represents legions of invisible black men who fall between what society deems the best and the worst.
They may not have what some consider are the best jobs that make a whole lot of money, but they work and they are proud of the fact that they work. And if you don’t think what they do is good enough, well, you can step. And they’ll tell you that.
These are the uncles at the barbecue, the ones who run Bostons on your asses at a spades game, but who will strategically scare your potential boyfriends because they love you. Their knowledge of their neighborhood and the people in it will surprise you and they’ll give you directions using land marks in a heart beat. “Now go three lights down, if you passed the McDonalds, you went too far…”
They care about people, even strangers.
These are the same men, who will give you a jump when you are on the side of the road after three brothas wearing suits wizz past you. They will get down on the ground and change your tire. And when you offer them money, they’ll be the ones to say no, tell you to have a nice day and disappear just as quickly as they appeared to help you.
We make fun of the Charles Ramsey’s of the world. The Jeromes, and Rodneys because of the way they dress and talk.
I’m glad that Mr. Ramsey is getting the admiration of an entire country that tends to fear and try their darndest to avoid him. If I saw Mr. Ramsey in the street, even as a black, woman out-of-place in his neighborhood, I’d be quick to roll up the windows and find my way back to the interstate.
So thank you, Mr. Ramsey. Your actions and your reaction to all of this has humbled me.
I’m glad Americans are getting to see the men I’ve seen and known who exist in NY, in Detroit, in Jackson and in Chicago or Oakland.
These are the same men who may not get on the news because they’ve stopped another man from beating on a neighbor, or helped fix a water heater of an elderly neighbor.
Men like Charles Ramsey aren’t your usual heroes. Gasp. They don’t run down a field, or dunk a basketball. These men quietly pay their bills, take care of their children, and try to make their women happy.
I’m quick to be frustrated with black men these days and jaw on about how they need to get their shit together and do better; but even Mr. Ramsey and the way he’s handled this situation–on his own terms, still with class– was like a gut punch to my own elitist feelings toward black men who may not have the educational or socioeconomic status similar or greater than mine.
So if you are laughing at Mr. Ramsey about the way he talks or dresses, you aren’t looking closely enough and you are missing out on a valuable lesson.
Sure, the autotune videos are funny and clever, and even when asked about that, with the acumen of a politician, he simply remarks, “If it makes the people happy…”
I salute you, Mr. Ramsey.
As one commenter posted online, I truly hope that Mr. Ramsey does not have a criminal background, because that would be the next big story. Even if he did, he still should be celebrated for what he’s accomplished, but once again. This is America. He is a black man.
And he’s showed us he knows it.
Related links that I suggest:
The Griot.com wrote a great article http://thegrio.com/2013/05/08/charles-ramsey-is-an-american-hero-not-a-hilarious-meme/