It’s the morning after Charles Ramsey became an Internet sensation, the GIFs have been made, the autotunes have been tuned and now the backlash over feeling utter joy for this hero are starting to seep into the Internet headlines. We have “Are We Laughing With Charles Ramsey? and “The Troubling Viral Trend Of The Hilarious Black Neighbor” and “Charles Ramsey is An Internet Hero For All The Wrong Reasons.” I get that these counterpoints to the adoration we are feeling towards this man who no one had ever heard of before yesterday are happening. The GIFs are tasteless, the autotunes are annoying, and yes, part of Mr. Ramsey’s appeal is that the guy is a walking sound bite, completely unpolished, unedited, un-coached. Which I feel is why so many of us are fascinated and charmed by him.
Last night Ramsey was interviewed by Anderson Cooper on AC360 and solidified his place as an American hero.
See, that’s why now I’m having trouble sleeping. See, up until yesterday, the only thing that kept me from losing sleep was the lack of money. See what I’m saying? So now that that’s going on, and I could have done this last year, not this hero stuff, just do the right thing –
Do the right thing. When so many people would have ignored what they thought was a domestic dispute, Ramsey did the right thing. We mind our business. We don’t know our neighbors. We don’t get involved. Anderson asked Ramsey if he feels like a hero:
No, no, no. Bro, I’m a Christian, an American, and just like you. We bleed same blood, put our pants on the same way. It’s just that you 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. You have to have cajones, bro. That’s all what it’s about. It’s about cajones on this planet.
None of our fascination has to do with Ramsey’s race, or economic class, or his hair, or the way he holds an imaginary cell phone to his ear to mime making a call. What is remarkable about this man is that he stepped in, he cared, he gave a damn in this world when so many people just don’t. And everything that this guy says just gets better and better. When asked about the reward:
I tell you what you do, give it to them. Because if folks been following this case since last night, you been following me since last night, you know I got a job anyway. Just went picked it up, paycheck. Where are them girls living? Right next door to this paycheck. So yes, take that reward and give it to – that little girl came out the house and she was crying. And I’m looking at her, right, I’m like your mama trying to help you, girl, shut up. I don’t know, right. And she’s like I want my daddy. And I said, who’s her daddy? She said Ariel.
And even though I don’t agree with murder, he says something so good here, because yeah, I don’t agree with murder but his attitude towards the fact that Amanda Berry has been raped for ten years and has a child by her rapist, towards the fact that there are two other women being held captive in this house, is the sort of feeling that every man should have when thinking about the reality of rape:
Yes. I said well, how’s that possible? Because you wouldn’t – if you got kidnapped, he was having sex with you? Oh, Jesus. That little girl is his? Now we want to hurt you. Bro, this will be a different interview, I told you that, if we had known that. Man, I would be facing triple life.
We don’t love Ramsey because he is a “hilarious black neighbor.” It helps that he tells a great story, that he seems like the type of guy you would love grabbing a beer and eating some barbecue with, that he is charismatic and honest and funny, but we love him because when so many people in the world mind their own business, Ramsey did the exact opposite. He is the sort of neighbor we all want. He is the sort of man we want to see more of, those who find out about a rape and then think about homicide. They don’t commit it, but they sure as hell don’t keep on walking when a woman asks them for help.