The Media Apparently Has No Idea How to Deal With a Black Hero
What makes Charles Ramsey’s interview so great? His pure genuineness. If you need to be reminded of that, please watch below:
We all fall in love with Ramsey after watching his interview because it portrays an honesty, sincerity and openness that is hard to come by today. Instead, however, some bloggers have tried to spin love for Ramsey’s earnestness into a love for black stereotypes. A Slate piece, for instance, claims that “It’s difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform.” The piece also states:
Charles Ramsey has become the latest in a fairly recent trend of “hilarious” black neighbors, unwitting Internet celebrities whose appeal seems rooted in a “colorful” style that is always immediately recognizable as poor. This plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the “ghetto,” socially out of step with the rest of educated America.
But the reality is**, people like animated characters — black or white, man or woman, gay or straight. And the pure kindness Ramsey exudes only works to illustrate something positive — a “stereotype” that should be welcomed. A blogger for The Christian Science Monitor argues, however, that while these traits should be welcomed, it’s important that they don’t get ridiculed and overshadowed heroism. Who does he contribute the ridicule to? A few idiots who decided to auto-tune his interview or create gifs — both of which, though not funny, work to celebrate Ramsey’s character, not mock it. And Ramsey’s radiating sincerity doesn’t overshadow his heroic act — it adds more compassion to it.
Perhaps the real issue is revealed earlier in the piece when the author states that the black community hopes to appear more mainstream:
Many of us lamented any confirmation of stereotypes and wondered aloud why it seemed that the “educated and presentable” among us never seemed to be chosen to represent the race in front of the breaking news cameras.
My advice to him? Never desire to trade such honesty and sincerity with “educated and presentable” — most “educated and presentable” people are annoying assholes… But really, don’t push for people to conform to the boring, detached individuals that make up today’s status quo. We need more Ramsey's in the world, not more Ivy League grads. Plus, intelligence comes in many forms, and the type of wisdom Ramsey has is certainly the most important.
And about 80 percent of people who took a survey by The Independent agreethat Ramsey’s interview is popular because he portrays a virtuous and clever man, not a poor and uneducated one.
Shortly after this whole ‘we must only love a black hero because we love stereotypes’ deal, the media decided that maybe we shouldn’t love Ramsey at all. In a despicable fashion, The Smoking Gunapparently couldn’t let us love this black hero just yet, as they published a piece detailing Ramsey’s past as a perpetrator of domestic violence. Since when do media outlets dig up dirt on heroes instead of glorify them? Rarely. I guess the media couldn’t help but resist its constant tendency to portray black men as criminals.
The news quickly spread through various media outlets. Fortunately, Salon’s Joan Walsh began a wave of defense for Ramsey, writing that no human being is perfect and that Ramsey’s past makes it even more remarkable that he intervened in what he thought was a domestic violence dispute. She wrote, “It would be a shame if Ramsey’s exposure … served to discourage other ex-convicts from helping others for fear that their pasts will come back to haunt them.” And on Thursday, Ramsey told TMZ: "Those incidents helped me become the man I am today and are the reason why I try to help the community as much as I can ... Including those women."
It seems like, no matter what, the media was trying to say people were wrong for loving Ramsey and his beautiful openness. If people did, they were actually only loving a black stereotype or a black criminal. Meanwhile, when race really came into play, the media ignored it. At the end of Ramsey’s initial interview, he said, “I knew something was wrong when a little, pretty white girl ran into a black man's arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway.” But, as Townhall reported, “a check of The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Cleveland Plain Dealer shows that while the papers quoted Ramsey, none saw fit to include his observation.”*
Why wouldn’t the media want to address Ramsey’s comical yet wise comments about race and its sociological effects? Because maybe then they might actually have to deal with something that’s important.
**UPDATE: As one commenter pointed out, both the Slate and CSMonitor pieces should certainly be thought about and considered. I never intended to make those bloggers seem invalid. I do hope, however, that we can embrace our positive reaction to Ramsey, instead of simply cast people as enjoying a "stereotype," which seems negative. I think when we do the latter, we actually end up normalizing the "white, straight, wealthy, educated male" way to be/act.