Christian Cooper is a bird-watcher and board member of the NYC Audubon Society, Amy Cooper, unrelated to Christian, is a dog-owner. The two met in Central Park, where Amy was letting her dog run free without the park-required leash, right through a bird-watching area. When Christian reminded her of the rule, all white-fragility hell broke loose. Sound-The-Alarm-Amy, growing hysterical, told Christian that she was calling the police to report that “an African American man is threatening my life.” Then she does just that, while simultaneously trying to wrangle her dog.
Spoiler alert: Nobody was threatening her life.
Christian is calm and collected as she loudly rages and invades his personal space, capturing about sixty seconds of the incident on video and posting it to his Facebook page. Watching it, all I could think was that Amy broke the rules, but she’s the one calling law enforcement. Unless Amy has lived under a rock, she knows that there have been numerous black men who have been seriously harmed or killed by police for minor infractions (if any infraction at all). As the video went viral and the story filled my social media feed, what stood out to me the most was all the white people completely ignoring the glaringly obvious racism and instead expressing concern for Amy’s dog.
Yes, you read that correctly. Instead of an outcry of support for a black man (who could have had his life put in imminent danger for no reason), and instead of condemning this racist Karen, I mean Amy, for summoning the police in a public tantrum rivaling that of a (racist) toddler, they are worried about the welfare of her pet. What does this say? That some white people value the treatment and life of a dog more than a human—because that human is black and male.
Before you go and say it, because despite what you’ve read here, you will still go and say it (further proving the point): No, I do not approve of the way she was manhandling her dog. Nor do I condone animal abuse in any way, shape or form. Yes, I do think we can care about both of these things (animal welfare and systemic racism) at the same time. But many folks expressed more concern for the dog than the actual victim here, the innocent black man who could have had his life put in jeopardy by this unstable white woman.
Rebeccah Sanders, Audubon senior vice president for state programs, said it best when she told CNN, “Black Americans often face terrible daily dangers in outdoor spaces, where they are subjected to unwarranted suspicion, confrontation, and violence. The outdoors — and the joy of birds — should be safe and welcoming for all people.”
Amy tried to use her white privilege to get her way. She believed she could do what she wanted without consequence. When a black male called her on her shit, she lost all control, certain that the only way out of the situation (that wasn’t a situation yet) was to call the police. She huffed and puffed that she was in dire danger and needed immediate assistance. She weaponized her whiteness. Literally. Is it just me, or does it seem like BBQ Becky, Cornerstore Caroline, and Permit Patty are related to Sound-the-Alarm Amy?
What’s terrifying is that these four women have made the news for their white nonsense, but they aren’t the only four who exist. There are women like them everywhere, watching people of color, while keeping their fingers on their phones, ready to dial at the drop of a hat. And when they are called out for doing so, they clapback with a tally they keep on-hand for moments like these. It goes something like this:
There’s no way they could be racist. They sponsor children in African countries. They have “a black friend.” We are all one race: the human race. They dated a black guy in college. They don’t have a racist bone in their bodies, and they are proudly colorblind.
Amy Cooper told CNN, “”I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” she said, adding that she also didn’t mean any harm to the African American community.” You see, they always centralize their whiteness. They are nice, do-gooders who “adopt” dogs and “don’t see color.” What they fail to do, besides be honest with themselves about their racism, is take responsibility for endangering black lives.
Yes, Amy apologized. While some white people are swift to forgive her while continuing to worry about Amy’s ex-furry friend, I’m not here for it. Amy is in some deep, well-deserved doo-doo. She’s been fired from her job, her dog is back at the shelter she adopted him from, and Amy is trending on Twitter, and not in a good way. However, Amy Cooper isn’t in any legal trouble for falsifying information and taking time out of the NYPD’s day with her white nonsense—even with video evidence. Because Amy, like all Karens, can get away with just about anything with her white tears and a half-hearted sorry-not-sorry.
What disturbs me most about this story is that Christian could have been injured or killed. Yet, there are plenty of comments on social media asking about the dog’s well-being, not about Christian. There is a clear distinction between white people who believe that black lives matter and those who rank an animal’s life over that of a black man. The all-about-the-pup commenters are no better than Amy. The focus should never have been on the dog.
As a mom of a black boy, I’m not surprised by the ignorant responses to the viral video. Stereotypes of black males are at play here. While they are deemed dangerous, aggressive, and tough, fully capable of handling all the hard knocks (ahem, injustices) thrown at them, Amy has apologized and her dog is now safely back at a shelter waiting to be re-homed. I can practically hear the collective all-lives-matter sigh of relief.
Christian’s video, as clear-cut as it is, isn’t enough for some white people to realize that Christian, not Amy or her dog, is the true victim here. They fail to acknowledge that a cell phone in the hands of a white woman can be a weapon. One call is all it takes for a black person to be irrevocably harmed doing something as simple jogging, having a BBQ, or, in this case, enjoying a walk in the park.
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