Heroes and Colorism in America: Charles Ramsey Goes Viral

May 9, 2013
8:59 AM

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video interview of Charles Ramsey, a man being declared hero for rescuing three kidnapped Cleveland women missing for over a decade who were presumed dead.  It’s not surprising such incredible news would go viral.  It’s also not surprising one of the first few things to happen was the auto tuning of the interview to make it laughable therefore digestible, maybe even condescending. But we really shouldn’t dismiss the powerful statement Mr. Ramsey made.

“I knew something was wrong when a pretty little white girl ran into a black man’s arms.  Something is wrong here.  Dead giveaway!”

He’s right, something is really wrong here. You could see the discomfort in the reporters face and the slight change in his demeanor as he quickly wrapped up the interview. It’s the elephant in the room stemming from colonialism, 600 years of physical and emotional abuse rearing its ugly head, the practice of Colorism in society today. Unfortunately the reporters reaction to sweep the issue under the rug is common practice.  No one wants to deal with prejudice in America for fear of being labeled racist.  However, such an important issue should not be dismissed.  The practice of Colorism needs to be discussed because its far reaching consequences are not very laughable.


prejudice or discrimination in which human beings are accorded differing social treatment based on skin color;  the phenomenon of lighter-skinned people discriminating against darker-skinned people within their own ethnic groups such as idealizing blonde hair and the whitest skin

Any idea that equality exists among all Americans in 2013 can be dispelled with statistics. In April of this year, Business Insider magazine featured 21 Maps Of Highly Segregated Cities In America naming Cleveland as one of them. As we look at these neighborhoods we must now factor in class.  Poor people are vilified in the media and we see this translate into actual laws being implemented such as mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients.  Laws like these do absolutely nothing to curb or treat drug abuse and prove to be a waste of state tax dollars as already demonstrated in Florida, where only 100 out of 4,000 came back positive.


When a group a people is vilified their humanity is taken away along with their respect as human individuals.  One dangerous consequence is poor neighborhoods receive inadequate and unequal police protection.  This report shows police protection is enjoyed discriminatively in wealthy areas. This study proposes the question: Might these women have been saved much sooner in a neighborhood which was not predominately Latino?

There are now new allegations surfacing that neighbors had made previous reports to the police about suspicious activity in that house but nothing was ever done.

One neighbor says a naked woman was seen crawling on her hands and knees in the backyard of the house a few years ago. Another heard pounding on the home’s doors and noticed plastic bags over the windows.

Both times, police showed up but never went inside, neighbors say. Police also paid a visit to the house in 2004, but no one answered the door.

A Cleveland police spokesman, old CNN that the department had no record of a 911 call reporting a naked woman at Castro’s address.

In yet another interview Ramsey stresses beyond his color or class, his Americaness as a common man who works for living.  And that’s exactly how it should be.

“I don’t even want it,” Ramsey said of the attention. “They keep saying I’m a hero. Let me tell you something, I’m an American, and I’m a human being. I’m just like you. I work for a living. There was a woman in distress, so why turn your back on that?”

Charles Ramsey an American hero who stepped in to help when many others didn’t. Yet even as we celebrate Ramsey, local Cleveland media tried to defame him with news of previous convictions, as a Channel 5 story from last night tried to do. The reaction to that “news” from viewers was highly negative, so much so that Channel 5 had to take the story down from its Facebook site. Nonetheless, there is now a media narrative of the hero convict.

And that is just wrong. This country is strong BECAUSE of its diversity. Once we respect that as a whole society can begin to heal, moving forward as a stronger united nation.

What you can do: Change can happen with a collective of American citizen’s of every color, stand up for what is morally right taking responsibility for their country.

  • Stop supporting products and companies that are toxic to society by perpetuating negative stereotypes referring to any particular color as bad.
  • Demand equal and fair coverage on all media platforms. Do not permit people of color to continue being under-represented, negatively depicted and narrowly portrayed.
  • Stop voting for government officials who do not have your best interest in mind or support the eradication of cultural diversity.
  • Begin demanding accountability from government officials and everyone in positions of authority. Yes, people can make mistakes but being a better person means being able to correct them. If they cannot, another qualified person should be given the opportunity.


lettyBella Vida Letty is a regular contributor to LatinoRebels.com and one of the Original Rebeldes, having been with the group since the very beginning. Last year she was named one of the Most Powerful Latinas in Social Media by VOXXI. You can follow her on Twitter (@bellavidaletty) or read more about her on her blog, Bella Vida by Letty.