We could stand to be more like Charles Ramsey [Updated]

Charles Ramsey (Scott Shaw/AP)
Charles Ramsey (Scott Shaw/AP)

Without question, Charles Ramsey is a character. The man who rescued Amanda Berry from captivity gave an epic television interview yesterday, in which he delivered one of the most brilliant lines ever uttered on national television. “Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms,” Ramsey said with a knowing nod and smile. “Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway.”

In one comical comment, Ramsey said a lot about race in America. There was no need for an explanation because we all knew what he was talking about. We all knew what he meant. And, given the nefarious stereotypes of African American men, we all knew there to be more than a kernel of truth to it. Just listen to the knowing laughter around Ramsey in response to his remark.

When I heard him say it, I roared with laughter at his brilliant response and gasped that he had the nerve to say it. Throughout his interviews, Ramsey, a dishwasher at a Cleveland restaurant, has shown a lot of nerve. But he has shown an equal amount of character.

Ramsey said he heard someone screaming for help at the house next door. He didn’t walk away. He went over to help. More remarkable was why he continued to help. “I figured it was a domestic violence dispute,” he told Cleveland’s NewsChannel 5. Most people would walk away because it’s too dangerous to get involved or it’s just none of their business to get mixed up in someone else’s problems.

When Ramsey was asked by Anderson Cooper how he felt about being a “hero,” the “hero” demurred as only real heroes do.

No, no, no. Bro, I’m a Christian, an American. I’m 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.

And what about possible reward money from the FBI? Ramsey told Cooper he isn’t interested.

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. What that address say?….Where are them girls living? Right next door to this paycheck. So yes, take that reward and give it to [them]….

Democratic strategist and commentator Zerlina Maxwell noted on Twitter, “If anything Charles Ramsey proves that bystander intervention WORKS and u don’t need any special training to do it.” To which @RobMyers1968 added, “[A]nd Charles Ramsey did it without a gun!” And he did it seemingly without fear or any thought to his personal safety. We need more neighbors like Ramsey. We all could stand to be more like Ramsey.

Follow Jonathan Capehart on Twitter.

UPDATE [5:32 p.m.]: The Smoking Gun has released documents showing that Charles Ramsey was convicted for battering his wife and did prison time for three separate attacks more than 10 years ago. Yes, they show Ramsey is a more complicated character than was initially known. But that has no bearing on my view of his actions this week.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.
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