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
“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen.
Keep in the sunlight.”
1.Wake ; Murray Brothers funeral home, cascade rd
Atlanta, Ga 30331, Wednesday May 8 , all day
; Jackson Memorial Baptist Church
534 Fairburn Rd
Atlanta Ga 30331
Thursday May 9, 2 pm
Please come out and support Chris and his family. Thank you
Editor’s note: On Wednesday, May 1, 2013, Chris Kelly, aka “Mac Daddy” from the iconic hip-hop duo Kris Kross, died in Atlanta, GA at the age of 34. The SoulTrain.com family sends our deepest condolences and love to Kelly’s family, friends, and fans in this time of mourning.
We all accept bad news in our own unique ways, especially the loss of loved ones or people of notable celebrity status, cultural relevance and admiration. Learning of the passing of 34 year-old Chris Kelly, one half of the groundbreaking hip-hop duo Kris Kross, I started to read what was being written about him by various sources. I skimmed through most the articles because of how similarly they summarized his career. Reluctantly, I turned my attention to the reader comments. Some posts honored him, others did not. Considering my own views, I began to wear my thoughts backwards, like to how he and partner Chris Smith popularly wore their clothing during their teens.
My memories of Kelly began to rewind, playing back in reverse chronological order. Those started with a crop of artists’ promotional pictures I received from recording label Disturbing Tha Peace in the early 2000s. Each photo was uniquely-effected, stylized with a brick wall background. Kelly was dressed in all black with a look of total seriousness. I was surprised to see him. It felt like running into an old friend I’d lost touch with.
My thoughts continued to backtrack. Next I remembered standing in a music store staring at the cover of what would be the final Kris Kross album, Young, Rich & Dangerous. I thought they looked ridiculous, with no desire to purchase. Their impression on me was not full length. This was followed by my recollection of getting the CD single for “Tonight’s tha Night,” the first offering from this same LP. The very idea of Kris Kross using one of Redman’s most popular lines as a hook was unfathomable. The reality was it worked well, and on it Kelly, aka Mac Daddy, shined.
The rest of their singles trailed: “Da Bomb,” “I’m Real,” “Alright,” “It’s A Shame,” “I Missed the Bus,” “Warm It Up,” and finally, “Jump”–their craze-launching smash hit debut. Permanently imbedded in my memory, the song never actually needs to be played again; in my subconscious I can still clearly hear Kelly reciting, “Some of them try to rhyme but they can’t rhyme like this.” It was here my backtracking ceased. I got stuck on those twelve words, at that moment realizing just how defining of Kelly they were.
“Some of them try…” Millions of young men and women enter recording situations every day with aspirations and dreams of widespread success. Hopefuls often start out young in age. In this digital era it is easier than ever to be discovered, and the percentage of those who are is still low. Kelly was discovered at 13-years-old, becoming one of the lucky finds to break through.
“To rhyme…” The sons and daughters of hip-hop’s Golden Era were taught to respect word use, they learned if you were going to become an MC you had to be creative, confident, and to build patterns skillfully and sensibly. Audiences should hear lyrics, not just listen to them. One can argue Kris Kross achieved widespread success for a number of marketing reasons; how well they were able to rhyme, though, should always find its way into the discussion. At the height of their commercial relevance a point of debate was which Chris was the better performer: Kelly or Smith. In a number of circles Kelly was the favorite.
“But they can’t rhyme…” Producer and music mogul Jermaine Dupri wrote all of Kris Kross’ lyrics. Regardless, the pair needed to deliver them on time with Dupri’s production. They had to convince listeners to believe what they were hearing from them. Kelly was the more aggressive of the two. He attacked verses. In videos he articulated with his facial expressions and body language. On the microphone he was like a mail carrier with years on the same route. You expected him to show up. He delivered.
“Like this…” Death has made Chris Kelly another example, a figure standing directly in front of millions of pointed fingers. He did it. He was able. If he can, Ican too. He used to be successful. He couldn’t make it as a solo act. Who cares about him anymore?
Kelly’s family and loved ones care, the same persons crying real tears while refraining, “Not like this!” They’re the ones most affected by his life. They’ll hear summary of his career described a number of ways by various sources because Kelly was one of the lucky finds to break through. They’ll hear millions of comments breaking down who they thought he was and what they thought he meant, which could be assumed is not a new experience. This likely has been happening since Kelly was 13-years-old! Only in this digital era, it is easier than ever.
Eventually I broke free of where I got stuck. Again in reverse, I spiraled back in memory before Kris Kross came on the scene. As I looked ahead I saw how much they were needed, and thus gained an even greater understanding of their impact. They made history; and trust me, I’ll never forget it. In those comments I read I saw Kelly described as “fake.” So what if Kelly didn’t write his own rhymes while working with Dupri? He still recorded better music than countless others who made attempts then and now. Some of them try to rhyme, but they can’t.
R.I.P. Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly
–Mr. Joe Walker
Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker. Also visit MrJoeWalker.blogspot.com and Facebook.com/ByMrJoeWalker.