I’ve long argued that what we call racism in America masks the deeper, darker, evil of classim; that we simply don’t care about those whose class status is benetah our own. Joan Walsh makes her case:
We still don’t know how much police are culpable for failing to find Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. Multiple neighbors say they called 911 to report seeing women in distress; the police deny getting their calls. Confronted with those police claims, neighbor Israel Lugo told MSNBC: “It’s a bunch of BS.”
Eventually, we may find out the truth. But it’s clear that Ramsey, at least, took a risk and acted to help Berry escape. Neighbors say it was left to the girls’ mothers and community activists to keep the spotlight on the missing young women when police and authorities gave up in this forgotten working-class neighborhood in the shadow of I-90. A third of families live below the poverty line, and average household income is under $24,000. Still, people go to work – Ramsey has a job as a dishwasher. Amanda Berry herself was abducted on her way home from a job at Burger King. They take care of themselves, or try to. And sometimes they’re able to take care of one another.
I find myself thinking about Ramsey’s most memorable line: “I knew something was wrong when a little, pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway.” Ramsey spoke from the heart of his experience as a black man in segregated Cleveland, and segregated America. Still, I wonder if any of the missing girls were considered “white” by authorities — or at least white enough to be part of the “missing white woman syndrome,” in which the disappearance of pretty, upper-middle-class white girls and women becomes a police priority and a national scandal. Think Chandra Levy, Natalee Holloway or Laci Peterson.
If you’re one of us, you’re one of them, and that make you one of the Invisible People.