Charles Ramsey: The Unlikely Hero

Charles Ramsey: The Unlikely Hero

Sweet Brown, it was a good run while it lasted. Yesterday, a new Internet legend was born. His name is Charles Ramsey. Ramsey was at his Cleveland home eating some good old Mickey D’s when he heard screams coming from next door. After going to investigate, he found a young girl pleading for help. The young lady turned out to be Amanda Berry, a woman who went missing 10 years ago. Two other women, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who went missing in 2004 and 2002, respectively, were also found in the home. Check out the video interview with Ramsey below:

Some classic lines in there, right? So much personality. So much sincerity. Trending on Twitter. A lock for viral video of the month. I don’t want to discuss the timeline for Ramsey’s autotuned YouTube video release. Instead, I think it’s important that we talk about something he said in the interview:

Ramsey: “Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little, pretty, white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something [was] wrong here. Dead giveaway! Deaaaddddd giveaway. Deaaaaadddddddddddddd giveaway. She’s got problems. That’s the only reason she’s running to a black man!”

Epic quote. Here’s a black man, living a predominately Latino community in Cleveland, who rescues a white girl from what appears to be a human trafficking situation. An unlikely hero. Ramsey’s comment reflects what many of us think, but don’t have the guts to say: Race relations in America still suck. But in this moment, Amanda Berry could care less if this dude was Black, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Columbian, Caribbean, or from the tribe of Zamunda. She saw a potential rescuer. I’m sure when her family heard the news of the rescue, their first words weren’t, “A black guy? Really?” What mattered most is that their girl was safe.

What was the telltale sign that showed Ramsey something was wrong? A white girl running into his arms. Culture hadn’t taught him this was the norm. Whites usually crossed the street when he came around. They clutched their purses a little more tightly. They got a little more pep in their step. They held their little Amandas a little closer. Now Ramsey was holding someone who he was taught, through experience, feared him. But there was a greater fear at work here. The fear of suffering another moment in that home—trapped for ten long years. Amazing how tragedy causes us to put aside our differences. Think back on the events that unfolded in Boston weeks ago. First responders weren’t categorized by race; instead, every able-bodied person rendered assistance to those in need.

Maybe we can learn something from Ramsey. And it’s not what he ordered from the Golden Arches that day. Nor is it how to leverage viral video success into a somewhat successful “career.” It’s just the opposite. Ramsey taught us several things yesterday. Evil is evil. It has no racial identity. There’s no race profile for victims. Heroes come to us in the most unlikely form. And it might be uncomfortable at first. I’m sure the first moment of that hug with Amanda Berry was awkward. But as Ramsey held her, he felt her humanity. He felt her pain. When we encounter injustice in any form in our lives daily, may we all feel the same pain—and put our Big Macs down and do something about it.