Musings on words and Charles Ramsey

Words and money are the currency on which our lives depend on. Loving and caring words, lift our spirits, keep us going and can even fill our hearts with joy. Money? You simply need it need it to live. There is no way around it.

Until a few days ago, it never dawned on me that as a wordsmith; even I could create words that while honest, simply missed the mark. Of course it’s easier to see when others fall short in their words but sometimes it takes a bit more to look at ourselves and acknowledge our own shortcomings especially when we assume we know.

I found myself in a rather uncomfortable place professionally a few days ago when I realized the words that I had been using while honest, simply fell short. Thankfully, I was able to make a course correction and there is light at the end of this challenging professional tunnel.

This unfortunate incident has made me ponder the greater issue of honesty and intentions in our words. It seems everywhere I turn, whether it is online or offline, everyone is being honest and speaking their truth and while that always feels good. There are times when honest words fall short. Either they are used as weapons to destroy and hurt others or an excuse to highlight our own personal failings and lack of common sense.

Then just when I was mulling this all over today, I heard about Charles Ramsey, the Black man in Cleveland, OH who helped rescue three missing women who had long been assumed dead. Charles Ramsey is like many relatives of mine, a plain talking, working-class Black man in the Midwest. For those not used to such people, Ramsey is a delightful and colorful man who is hamming it up. Really? In my extended family, we must all be hams then!  

No one disputes that Ramsey is a hero but what I find fascinating is how in using his words to tell a story which isn’t funny in my two cent opinion, it created a situation of humor for some.  His words are a reflection of his reality and to some degree his place on America’s invisible but not really class ladder.  I suspect the line between those of us laughing with him and those laughing at him is a thin line indeed. At the moment Ramsey is the toast of the internet and cable news networks with viral memes popping up, yet there is a part of me that wonders how many are uncomfortable with his honesty?

 In sharing his version of the story with us, he used his words to speak his truth, yet some honest and truthful words cannot ever be heard because we would rather be amused at times. Words…they are a tricky and messy business indeed.   

6 thoughts on “Musings on words and Charles Ramsey

  1. I was born right outside of Cleveland and lived in Chicago for 20 years. Charles Ramsey is one of my people in the sense that he could easily be a relative. I think the uncomfortability when what he said lies in how people are not comfortable acknowledging and talking about race. When he said that the only reason that a pretty white girl would run into a black man’s arms is if she was homeless or had problems, he was reflecting a reality that we still don’t want to talk about. The reporter couldn’t cut him off fast enough. Much of the laughing I have seen with regards to this comment among my friends has been more in the sense of “he told the truth” and “I can’t believe he was bold enough to say that”. I don’t think people found the situation funny. I think the laughter was a reflection of the the honesty of what he said, and people thinking they can’t believe that he said it.

    • That is what I have seen too, admiration at the honesty and bravery and a little blushing laughter at the language.
      It is a good caution to be mindful of that thin line between laughing at and laughing with.
      Before I heard the 911 call I heard about it and I thought there must be adrenaline because he just helped a woman escape a very dangerous, probably weapon filled situation and he did it with pure grit and determination in the moment.
      My (Chinese American) spouse brings me the video and says “you have to see this. This guy is awesome!” After I heard the recording of the call I thought to myself, if I’m ever faced with a situation like that, I hope I can channel my inner Charles Ramsey.

      “Put yourself in her shoes, man”. That one sentence holds more empathy and understanding than most members of our congress ever convey. (Those _____________).

      • Rebecca: I agree with her. And I think his nervousness was heightened by the fact that he was initially having trouble with his phone in making the call. The reason that both he and Amanda were on the call with the police was due to the fact that he said he was fumbling with his phone to work. He then told her to run across the street to the neighbor’s to use their phone. I can’t imagine. You finally break free and the phone is not working properly? There was a lot going on here.

    • Back to Charles Ramsey, I knew the media would try to tear him down. I just didn’t know it would be this soon. I saw Erin Burnett say that people are questioning Ramsey’s credibility. The reason being that there was someone else that helped the girls too, but he doesn’t speak English well, so that man has not come forward. Charles Ramsey mentioned this man days before in his interview with Anderson Cooper. He acknowledged that it was this man who go his attention. Now people have pulled up Charles Ramsey’s police record. So what?! He still saved someone that the Cleveland police missed for a decade.

      Finally, I am was born right outside of Cleveland. Grew up there. We are concerned about the allegations that people had reported suspicious activity to the police and it was ignored. The police said that they have no records of complaints. And we are not inclined to believe the police on this matter because of the neighborhood is a minority neighborhood. Due to previous incidents, we can believe that they would ignore warnings. It’s not like we don’t have experience with this. About 4 years ago a man was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering 19 black women. Neighbors in the neighborhood had reported suspicious activity and there were complaints about the smell from the house. This monster had buried these 19 women under his house well over a decade. Finally the police came clean that they hadn’t done what they were supposed to do. So there credibility here of saying that they never received calls is lacking for many of us.

      • I am saddened but not surprised that the media felt it necessary to dig up Ramsey’s background. I will say though I am proud how he has handled it and acknowledged this his past mistakes have made him a better man. What more can we ask? He paid his debt to society and seems to be living right. I just hope this doesn’t impact him negatively.

        It does seem as if the police failed these women and this community.

  2. I think his comments were on point and didn’t miss the mark — I think they hit the mark. The auto-tune turns this event into a pop-culture one and that is very, very unfortunate (I don’t necessarily believe that people are laughing at him). What I find incredibly troubling is that the brave man who handed out American flags during the Boston Marathon and subsequently helped saved a victim — I would be interested to know if a criminal background check was performed on him because we did find out that he hands out flags because his son was killed serving in Iraq.

    Mr. Ramsey is a character — there is no doubt about that — but he’s a person who did something where most of us would fall short. God help me if my uncle, who is a dead ringer for the fourth member of ZZ Top complete with a mullet — ever got interviewed. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore a nugget of wisdom if he dropped one.

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