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Meet Charles Ramsey, New Internet Darling Of Cleveland Kidnapping Case

By Kevin Robinson in News on May 7, 2013 5:40PM

Charles Ramsey
Meet Charles Ramsey. He helped Amanda Berry escape from the Cleveland home where she'd been held captive for more than 10 years. Ramsey helped break her and her daughter out of the house, called 911 and then delivered a couple of hilarious news interviews. His actions made him a hero, and his candor made him an internet star.

The great thing about a guy like Charles Ramsey going "viral" is that, in a lot of ways, it winds up being a public expression of a set of emotions that are otherwise difficult and complicated. Grief, yes, but also celebration, surprise and relief. And in a way, it's also an expression of shock. Here's a guy that was just going about his regular life and wound up being involved in solving one of the more significant missing person cases in Cleveland history.

Part of what makes someone like Charles Ramsey so wonderful is his reaction to everything. It's just so relatable. We've all had these thoughts, when something dramatic and shocking happens around us: "What would I say or do? How would I react?" In Charles Ramsey, we see.

Sadly, though, there is a dark side to Ramsey's fame. Here's a person who is minding his own business, and didn't ask to get involved in anything more than living his life and eating McDonald's. That he reacts authentically when asked, on camera, about his experience, is so fantastic. Ramsey should be commended for taking action when someone needed help, and for being, frankly, brave. But sadly, there are some who see Ramsey as a totem for race and class, in ways sometimes that are subtle. To take his reaction, which really is authentic and genuine in both his concern and his disbelief at what has happened and hold it up as a totem for the urban black experience (read: poverty) is pretty outrageous. How many of us would be composed, articulate and concise in a similar situation?

The gifs, the autotunes, the image macros are fun and fantastic and yes, satisfying, in making a regular person out to be a hero, and as an expression of the collective joy we should feel when the lives of others are saved. But it's important to remember that there are real people, and real emotions, behind this experience, behind these images.