Thursday, May 9, 2013

Charles Ramsey: America's ghetto hero

That man can’t be a hero.  It can’t be true.  Look at him.  Listen closely.  Nope.  It can’t be true.

That’s the underlying message that jumps at me when I begin pondering the aftermath of the discovery of America’s newest hero – Charles Ramsey.  He’s black.  He uses colorful language.  Some are quick to call Ramsey the epitome of all things ghetto.
I hate that term. 

Maybe it’s because the Nazis’ placed Jews in areas called ghettos to isolate them from the rest of society.  Once World War II progressed, the ghettos became a transition area before sending the Jews off to be slaughtered.
Ghetto is a place of isolation prepared by those in power to assure their existence devoid of those unruly misfits. It’s why I hate it when I hear a person of color glamorize being ghetto.  I squirmed when listening to Jaheim sing Still Ghetto. The R&B crooner stirred the black citizenry to take pride for being relegated to life in the ghetto.

Ghetto is more than a zip code, it’s a mindset.  The truth is ghetto thinking can transcend ones address.  Ghetto is often found in the suburbs and shows up in places that have me shaking my head and rolling both eyes.

Ghetto is living entrapped by the mindset of those who place you in isolation.  It’s an infrastructure and culture, established by white privilege and power, with the unspoken intent of keeping folks confined.  The ghetto is more than language and a combination of rituals that brew in the forming of a culture.  It’s a freaking waiting station.
Yes, it’s a place created to keep certain people restrained before they are shipped off to die.  It happens every day.  Every day, all 365 of them, people prepare to leave the ghetto to head to court before being shipped to those concentration camps.  We call them prisons.

The parallels between the ghettos of Nazi Germany and those of black and brown communities of today are startling.  Each is designed to control those in the camps.  Each is enforced by economic strangleholds rooted in a racist agenda.
Although both are deliberate, the ghettos of today appear as the construction of the actions of those living in those ghettos.  In other words, they deserve what they get.  It’s their fault. Those poor, pathetic heathens need to pull themselves up from their own bootstraps.

That’s what power and privilege thinks.
This is why the rhetoric surrounding the heroism of Charles Ramsey is so critical in probing and confronting the massive assumptions related to ghetto culture.

In the mind of those on the other side of the invisible fence dividing the ghetto, heroes can’t be nurtured over there.  It’s counterintuitive to the claims of those invested in espousing the lore of ghetto culture.
The traffic of dialogue embodies the fortification of the pigeonholes of black and brown folks.  Presentations of ghetto folks singing, dancing, eating fried chicken, pork chops, ribs and watermelon while smoking weed and waiting for a place to rob fits authentic ghetto life. 

Nope. They’re not heroes.
So, expose the clown for who he really is, because that fool can’t be a hero. Find the dent in his armor. Follow his black behind long enough to unearth his ghetto ways.  Shake the leaves and wait for a bunch of dead apples to fall off the tree.

Well surprise, surprise, surprise.  Your ghetto hero has a criminal record.  Yup! He belongs in the ghetto with the rest of those no count niggras who need to remain over there because they are a threat to fine outstanding citizens like you and me.
Listen to the guards pulling Ramsey back into his ghetto space. Ramsey has a criminal record.  He has a history of domestic abuse. They have exposed the ghetto hero as a repeat domestic abuser.  He was arrested again while awaiting sentencing. 

He served six months in jail and was placed on five years of probation. One of the gatekeepers pulled the file from 1997.
Listen to the elitist choir singing – ghetto, thug, no count, worthless, piece of black trash. You’re no hero.  You’re just like the rest of them!

Maybe I’m embellishing a bit much, but, well, are my comments really that far from the truth?
“When a young, pretty white woman runs into the arms of a Black man you know something wrong,” Ramsey said in his interview with the Cleveland press.

Let me translate for those not familiar with the ghetto.  “You don’t see white girls come to the hood.  When you do, they run from men who look like me.  Something ain’t right when they hug a black man.  That don’t happen in the ghetto.”
Got it?  A black man from the ghetto can’t be a hero. 

There’s one big problem with that assumption.  Charles Ramsey kicked the door of the ghetto down and set three women free.

I call that a hero.



  1. Sandee WashingtonMay 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    Yeah. Charles Ramsey is a hero. And like all true heros his actions stemmed from compassion and his focus was not himself but on the people he rescued. He's one of the good guys.

  2. Why can't we see the duality possible in human nature?

    Yes, Ramsey did what a good citizen would do and four women are free because of what he did. Hero today. Yes, he was convicted of domestic abuse twice in the past and did some time. Badass yesterday. You don't have to go to the "ghetto" to find people who have both good and bad in them. The finest areas of any city contain people that who have done heinous things, but have also done some good in their lifetimes.

    Just look to the press' examination of the lives of our politicians and celebrities to realize that no one in the public eye escapes scrutiny, regardless of race. Why would Ramsey be any different? Publishing a fact of prior criminal act, doesn't diminish what he did recently. If anything, it might indicate he learned from past mistakes.

    And why leap to the conclusion that people (read - white people) would be surprised that someone from a poor neighborhood with limited speaking skills could still perform a heroic act? Because a few yahoos on YouTube made some derogatory comments? You put yourself in a mental ghetto with that kind of thinking.

    The vast majority of people of all races applaud Charles Ramsey for his actions in saving those girls. He confirms their faith in human decency and courage. Where he lives and what he sounds like have nothing to do with it.