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Charles Ramsey the Meme: Racist, or Not Racist?

So in all the hubbub surrounding the reappearance of the three missing women in Cleveland, the latest internet sensation has emerged: Charles Ramsey, the man who discovered Amanda Berry in the house next door. Ramsey's multiple interviews portray him as a colorful and entertaining character, but I'm seeing some arguments that Ramsey's new fame is a result of him fitting into a glorified caricature in the popular imagination: the working class, uneducated, outspoken black man. In a way, the internet's intrigue with Ramsey has uncomfortable parallels to minstrelsy: someone performing exaggerated black stereotypes for the amusement of a mainstream white audience.


When I first saw Ramsey's interviews and listened to the 911 phone call (all of which can be found in the Gawker article), I thought he was pretty awesomely hilarious. But I'm seeing these critiques crop up, and I'll admit: I hadn't really thought of it that way. Is our fascination with Ramsey and other black internet celebrities (Antoine Dodson comes immediately to mind) a result of an implicitly racist tendency to publicly mock qualities that are traditionally ascribed to "blackness"? Or would we (read: the interwebs) be just as fascinated with him if he were white?

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