Sheesh, it’s been a minute (and by “minute,” I mean “years”).
One of the beautiful things about this pandemic and quarantine is that I feel my creativity slowly coming back, and I actually feel like blogging again, and I created a t-shirt company as an outlet for my snark. All good signs.
What drove me to commentary is a situation in the news today where Amy Cooper, an investment professional, falsely called the police to say that her life was being threatened by Christian Cooper a bird-watching Black man (no relation), simply because he asked her to leash her dog in The Ramble, an area of Central Park which attracts over 200 species of birds and dogs are to be leashed at all times.
The story is outrageous because we all know that calling the police on a Black person — especially one that claims a threat to life — is tantamount to a death sentence. If she hadn’t meant him harm, she would have simply said “man” rather than placing the emphasis “African American man.” The situation has escalated to the point where her employer – Franklin Templeton – has announced via Twitter that they have fired her, and stated that they don’t tolerate racism of any kind. Good for them.
The truly sad part is that so many people were concerned about the life of the dog over that of the man. In fact, had Cooper not been damn near strangling that poor little dog on camera, I doubt that there would have been so much outrage for the incident.
The unfortunate reality is that black people are used to this treatment. We shouldn’t be, but it’s common. Being underestimated because of the color of our skin, with the assumption being that we’re committing crimes while we’re just going about the normal courses of life, doing typically mundane things that are within our rights as human beings.
I would argue that unbiased, racially sensitive white women should actually be the most outraged by Cooper’s stunt. Readers who haven’t seen the video should really invest a few minutes of time, if for no other reason than to witness her multi-tasking animal cruelty with an Oscar-worthy (manufactured) performance on her 911 call, rivaled only by the acting talents of Reese Witherspoon or Meryl Streep.
By embodying the essence of “the boy who cried wolf,” Amy Cooper has contributed to the reduction of the credibility of white women everywhere — adding herself to the long list of Barbecue Beckys and Karens of the world, who relish in calling the police in retaliation to people of color who don’t stay within their boundaries. At some point, future claims of “life-threatening” infractions will cause a delay in punitive action, with the 911 agent immediately wondering if s/he is being “Amy Coopered.”
From Amy Cooper herself, we’ve heard a watery apology and a claim that the video is “ruining her life.” According to Cooper, she was scared, which I don’t buy for a second. Scared people retreat, rather than threaten. Her actions were those of an empowered, perhaps narcissistic person who believes that she’s the exception to the rule. Cooper wanted the world to know that, while her actions appeared to be racist, that’s not really who she is. I mean, she DID refer to him as an African American man on the 911 call, right? It could have been so much worse!
Bless her heart. Her parents must be so proud.
I’m not really a fan of apologies in general, because they always go a little something like this:
- I’m really sorry (that I was caught)
- That’s not really who I am (in public, and I certainly didn’t mean to expose my bullshit to the entire world)
- I apologize if you were offended (because that would be your problem . . . not mine)
- I hope you can forgive me (and I REALLY hope that my employer can be equally forgiving because the economic impact is truly the only reason why I’m eating crow. I still have the same viewpoints, but going forward I’ll know to keep my mouth shut in mixed company)
I would have had more respect for her if she’d actually refrained from apologizing, and taken a different approach:
“I’ve given a lot of thought to my actions, and I’ve reached the conclusion that I did operate with bias, and my retaliation exposed my belief that an African-American man had no business reprimanding me about how I handled my dog in ANY setting — regardless of my having broken the rules of a park that is shared by millions of New Yorkers. Upon reflection, I realize that I have a lot of work to do, much of which will be recalibrating my thinking, perhaps working against my upbringing and eliminating any actions that reflect my deep-seated feelings that I am better than others. If I find myself in a similar situation in the future, I will strive to react differently.”
Or something like that. Fantasy? Perhaps, but maybe one day . . .