It’s hard out here for a black man the Internet accidentally thrusts into the limelight. Those 15 minutes ain’t no joke.
Via NPR reports:
Charles Ramsey, the Cleveland man who helped Amanda Berry escape from her captor and free her fellow captives, is already a full-fledged Thing On The Internet, primarily owing to a live local television news interview. During that interview, Ramsey proved himself a fantastic storyteller, and he kept it extra-extra-real.
What made Ramsey really blow up on the Internet was his observation at the end of the interview.
“Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms,” Ramsey told a local TV reporter. The local reporter quickly pivoted away.
(He’s not lying: Cleveland is one of the 10 most segregated cities in the U.S., according to a study from two researchers.)
But race and class seemed to be central to the celebrity of all these people. They were poor. They were black. Their hair was kind of a mess. And they were unashamed. That’s still weird and chuckle-worthy.
On the face of it, the memes, the Auto-Tune remixes and the laughing seem purely celebratory. But what feels like celebration can also carry with it the undertone of condescension. Amid the hood backdrop — the gnarled teeth, the dirty white tee, the slang, the shout-out to McDonald’s — we miss the fact that Charles Ramsey is perfectly lucid and intelligent.
“I have a feeling half the ppl who say ‘Oooh I love watching him on the internet!’ would turn away if they saw him on the street,” the writer Sarah Kendzior tweeted.
Dodson and Brown and Ramsey are all up in our GIFs and all over the blogosphere because they’re not the type of people we’re used to seeing or hearing on our TVs. They’re actually not the type of people we’re used to seeing or hearing at all, which might explain why we get so silly when they make one of their infrequent forays into our national consciousness.
Has America made a mockery out the man who saved Amanda Berry and two other women in Cleveland?