The story of Amy Cooper's attack on Christian Cooper in Central Park is such a common one that I am almost numb to it — but I can’t ever allow myself to be completely numb. After all, there’s always an Amy Cooper that I, too, have to worry about; I can't afford to be complacent about the Amy Coopers of the world.
Still, even knowing I can't be complacent, I initially tried to avoid watching the video of Amy Cooper confronting Christian Cooper on Monday morning — they aren’t, despite the last name, kin — but, like so many of the other viral videos in this growing anthology that should be called “Now That's What I Call White Folks Trying To Get Black People Killed,” your friends send them and your family members bring it up. All kinds of people with no social etiquette, bless their hearts, send you the visual trauma unsolicited, assuming they are being helpful.
People somehow forget that there is no Black person of sound mind and body in America who needs to be reminded that racism is so pervasive and remains so perverse that white people have zero problem siccing the police on us to get us killed. Still, even though none of it is exactly breaking news, it’s still haunting — and how could it not be?
But let’s get back to Amy Cooper; after all, this all started because she thought everything was all about her anyway — her wants, her needs. And, then, her prejudices, on full display so bluntly in ways that I will admit I don’t often see captured so clearly on video.
Amy Cooper was carrying on in ways that some of my relatives (who have since left this world) would have referred to as "being mighty white.”
Amy Cooper was not afraid of Christian Cooper, a Black bird watcher who asked her to put a leash on her dog as required by the rules of a wooded area of Central Park called the Ramble. In response, she rushed at him — despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in New York City and social distancing guidelines — and pointed her finger in his face. She was angry and assertive, not scared and concerned for her safety; it is evident in her language and actions. So when Amy called the cops, she was performing victimhood, for no other reason than to get Christian in trouble, and potentially killed, all because he told her to follow the rules of the park and put a leash on her dog.
In the video of the exchange that Christian Cooper posted, Amy Cooper is heard saying, "I'm taking a picture and calling the cops. I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life."
This is the beginning, middle and end of the story to me: Her own words demonstrate that she knew her whiteness and his Blackness would make the cops perceive her as uniquely vulnerable, and leave him uniquely vulnerable to the cops.
However, here’s all you need to know how full of it she is: "I'm not a racist," she added. "I did not mean to harm that man in any way."
Amy Cooper is a damn liar. "I think I was just scared," she went on. "When you're alone in the Ramble, you don't know what's happening. It's not excusable, it's not defensible."
Yet, there she is defending herself and somehow once again playing the victim.
If you are scared of a man asking you to leash your dog, you leash your dog and run away. You do not yank your dog by the neck and advance on the man, yelling at him all the while. And you do not say "I'm taking a picture and calling the cops. I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life” in 2020 and not know what you are setting up.
When white people call the police on Black people for the most mundane things, they are knowingly volunteering our lives for sudden and tragic endings. They have known this, year after year, since the police began.
Amy Cooper only became scared when it was time to perform fear to seal Christian Cooper’s potential fate. And the fate she was willing to set up for Christian is what sadly actually happened to George Floyd, who died that same night in Minneapolis at the hand of four police officers. Floyd’s death gained attention after a Facebook video showing a white officer kneeling on his neck as he pleaded with police, “I can’t breathe,” surfaced.
That’s why I say Amy Cooper and her apology can go directly to hell.
And it shouldn't surprise anyone that Amy Cooper has, like many New York City residents, likely donated to Democratic candidates such as Barack Obama and John Kerry. New York City is lovely and diverse, but is also one of the most racist cities that I have ever lived in — and I am from the South.
Is that shocking? Why? New York City is home of the so-called Central Park Five, Rudy Giuliani, stop-and-frisk, Donald Trump and, last I heard, the most segregated school system in America. Plus, I am pretty sure I can find a couple of Black men ready to talk about their continuing mixed social interactions with white people in Central Park, too.
Also this is part of America, where it’s not so much an aberration that the president is a white supremacist as that he is so incompetent and messy about it.
So, no, I am not at all shocked that this happened here — and if you still find it shocking that a white woman living in New York City who has donated to Democrats could effectively fake a call to the police knowing the life of a Black man would be forfeit as a result, I highly invite you to grow up.
As for solutions, I’m low.
Some people just don’t think it’s wrong to get Black folks killed if they are "afraid" — and they get afraid when we simply exist in proximity to them. By extension, those people will also take umbrage with Amy Cooper being socially stigmatized as a result of her actions, which involve making a false report to the police that could've resulted in the false imprisonment or death of a Black man, simply because he asked her to leash her dog for his safety, the dog's safety and in compliance with the rules of the park.
The fact is that there are so many Amy Coopers in the world and I don’t have the reach or color to affect them. And frankly, like Christian Cooper, I’m not going to ask the Amy Coopers of the world to see my humanity. I don’t need that. Instead, we, as Black people, need protection from those types and their “I’m not racist” attitudes, even as they do racist things that can lead to our deaths.
And if we can't have that protection, when white people routinely exploit a racist caste system that results in Black pain, trauma and potential death, the people who really need to be talking to the Amys about their attitudes are the other Amys, not the Christians.