By Eris Zion Venia Dyson
Dear Mr. Charles Ramsey,
First and foremost thank you. Thank you for being an up-stander versus a bystander. All too often we are quick to flee from the things that could land us in imminent danger, but you in your heart of hearts knew that the right thing to do was to come to the aid of someone who was crying out. We as the members of this great City of Cleveland are forever beholden to you for finding three of our daughters who we thought we’d never see again. But through the grace of the Most High they are now safe.
In plain speak, you said something so profound, and I want to unpack the statement that you made: “When a young, pretty white woman runs into the arms of a Black man you know something wrong.”
What does this statement mean in 2013? For me, it spoke volumes. It says: In America, we are taught to fear Black Men. They are assumed to be violent, angry, and completely & utterly untrustworthy. This statement also says what we have always known to be true for this country: White women, specifically pretty white women have no business in the same space as Black men. For as long as we can remember American society has been the sustainer of white women and the slayer of Black men.
We have seen it with the all too familiar story of Emmitt Till. We have seen it with the less familiar story of George Stinney; the youngest person in the United States ever executed. At 14 years old he was charged with the murder of two white girls in Alcolu, South Carolina. He was charged with this murder after being the last to see these two girls alive and even helped to search for them. With no evidence and no concrete witnesses he was sent to the electric chair, with a booster seat for his 90lb body, his case never reopened even after the culprit admitted he committed the crime.
I write this letter with extreme gratefulness, because I know how this country has historically made a mockery of, and torn down men like you: Black men who have been the fall guy, Black men who are assumed guilty for wearing hoodies and having wallets that somehow get mistaken for guns. So we all know that you could have easily decided that you would not put yourself in harm’s way.
And for your act of heroism you are met with extreme scrutiny couched in jest. Joke after joke for telling your truth, as plain as you knew how. You, Mr. Ramsey, were made fun of for flinching when the sounds of police sirens struck an innate reaction of terror in you. We all know that the police weren’t made for the protection of Black men. The 911 operator who engaged you with disdain, disbelief, and sheer aggravation reaffirmed that “you don’t have to be white to support white supremacy.” So if you don’t “look” like a hero, “speak” like a hero, “dress” like a hero, or wear your “hair” like a hero, then you’re just another person used to build the comedic chops of aspiring YouTube/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram sensations.
Thank you Mr. Ramsey for your discernment. Words can’t express what you have done for the families that finally have answers. As for the court jesters, there’s not much we can do for the cowards who don’t see that you did what the Cleveland Police department and the FBI could NOT do for an entire decade. As James Baldwin said, “When a man asks himself what is meant by action he proves that he isn’t a man of action. Action is a lack of balance. In order to act you must be somewhat insane. A reasonably sensible man is satisfied with thinking."
Thank you for being “somewhat insane” enough to act.
Republished with permission from an ezv truth