CHARLES RAMSEY: An unlikely, but much appreciated, upgrade to the American Black Male image

“I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway!” ~ Charles Ramsey

Photo: Urban Classic Design, Facebook

Photo: Urban Classic Design, Facebook

The story began with Amanda Berry and got legs when Charles Ramsey opened his mouth on camera. He’s not the ideal of eye candy but his reported actions make him a heart-throb. Charles Ramsey came to the aid and rescue of several damsels in distress on Monday, May 6, 2013. He didn’t know them, didn’t really know of their present-day existence and had no reason to expect anything when he took action upon hearing a call for help from his neighbor’s house.

Charles Ramsey makes a very comical interviewee, but I will tell you, there are many women, and men for that matter, the world over, who have waited a lifetime for one person – one man, one woman, one friend, one teacher, one stranger, one sister, one brother, one somebody – to show up and rescue them from a destructive, debilitating situation. I can’t imagine how many times Amanda Berry and her sisters in captivity, Gina de Jesus and Michelle Knight had cried out over the years to no avail… only to have their cries repeatedly muffled and silenced. Fortunately, they didn’t stop crying out and they didn’t stop trying to free themselves. After ten years of captivity and abuse, a well-positioned neighbor with a heart of a warrior heard Amanda’s cry for help and rushed to free her from her prison.

To paraphrase Charles Ramsey, a black man in America may be seen as the usual suspect, but he most certainly isn’t seen as the hero-type.

What media images of Black Men in America do we have that portray them as strong, neighborly, caring, concerned, able, courageous, protective, amazing – a safe haven? I can’t think of one. We have Black Men who are powerful speakers, charismatic organizers, brilliant leaders, amazing firsts, fabulous celebrities, groundbreaking athletes and the like – but they are all seen as outliers. EXTRA-ordinary. NOT the norm. Charles Ramsey is literally the man next door. Who is black. In America. Who happened to respond to a cry for help by assisting a woman in freeing herself and her daughter from captivity. This woman then called for additional help in order to free her fellow captives.

I’m loving me some Amanda Berry right now, too! I’ll have another post for her, Gina and Michelle. But first, I needed to highlight what is so wonderful about the unlikely hero who is Charles Ramsey.

The LA Times’ write-up of this story illustrates why my focus is on Charles Ramsey and not Amanda Berry. Charles Ramsey is mentioned once at the bottom of their story. About him, they only report, “A neighbor, Charles Ramsey… heard screaming Monday and saw Berry, whom he didn’t recognize, at a door that would open only enough to fit a hand through.”

According to the LA Times, Amanda Berry broke through the door herself and went back on her own to free their fellow captives. In this very traditional-esque write-up of a story where a Black Man does good, the Black Man is barely mentioned. And he certainly isn’t a hero. He isn’t someone who exhibited good character through actions worthy of acknowledgement and comment, let alone praise.

But a Black Man has done something worthy of acknowledgement, comment and praise. This is why Charles Ramsey has contributed a great deal to the media image of the Black Male in America this week. Because of social media, we don’t have to rely on outlets like the LA Times to feed us our news and shape our minds according to their own biases.

I know Charles Ramsey isn’t the only Brother out there who cares about his community to the point of rushing towards danger in order to pull someone out. Unfortunately, there are many people in this country (and world) who’s only experience of Black American Men is from television (news), movies, and music. For this reason, I am really happy that we’re all getting a good dose of the lively authenticity that is Charles Ramsey. Unkempt with a potty mouth, he’s not Clark Kent and would never be mistaken for Bruce Wayne. In fact, he may have spent his life being treated like an unstable Bruce Banner, watching people cross the street as he approached on a dark night. But he proved himself to be better than any fictional superhero.

He showed himself to be an ordinary man with flaws who is willing to operate from a pure heart. A courageous heart. In hero-speak, Charles Ramsey’s superpower is “being himself”. That makes him beautiful and amazing. A simple wonder to behold.

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8 thoughts on “CHARLES RAMSEY: An unlikely, but much appreciated, upgrade to the American Black Male image

  1. Thank God for Charles Ramsey! May his life be blessed 100fold for the actions he took yesterday, rescuing these kidnapped victims of who knows what degree of horror. Charles is a HERO in my eyes.

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