On May 25, Christian Cooper was bird-watching in Central Park when he asked a white woman to follow park rules and put her dog on a leash. The request took a chaotic, racist turn that left the woman facing backlash and Christian offering her some (undeserved) sympathy.
Amy Cooper was walking through the park with her dog on Memorial Day and crossed paths with Christian, a black man. She had a leash in her hand, but the dog wasn’t attached to it, despite the area’s requirement. After noticing this, Christian asked Amy to put her dog on its leash and when she wouldn’t do it, he started filming her.
In the video, which Christian posted on Facebook, Amy is irate that he’s filming her. Despite him requesting, “please don’t come close to me,” Amy continues to approach him, dragging her dog by the collar while the dog struggles to stand. She responds with her own request, “stop recording.”
When Christian doesn’t stop recording, Amy tells him she’s going to call the cops. She says,
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
She followed through on the threat, too, and that’s why Christian’s video went viral.
In less than 48 hours after it was posted, the video set off a ripple effect into Amy’s life, causing her to surrender her dog, lose her job, and be the latest publicized face of racism in the US (she’s been dubbed “Central Park Karen”).
As for Christian? He told the New York Times,
“I don’t know if her life needed to be torn apart [over the incident].”
In fact, he offered her sympathy, saying,
“Any of us can make — not necessarily a racist mistake, but a mistake. And, to get that kind of tidal wave in such a compressed period of time, it’s got to hurt. It’s got to hurt.”
He’s offering a lot of compassion to someone who threatened to call the cops because she knew the law enforcement system would treat him differently — and in her favor — because he’s a black man and she’s a white woman.
All because he asked her to put her dog on a leash.
Christian genuinely feels bad for the damage this has done to her life. And that’s the difference between him and her. She had no problem threatening to upend his life.
Honestly, this is how racist people should be treated.
Companies should want to distance themselves from people who behave as Amy did in that video. She should have her name and face plastered all over for people to see what she did. She should be made to issue public apologies and get negative attention.
In fact, if things were actually fair, she should have been the one to fear a call to the police in the first place.
Amy is not the victim here, Christian is. If this had been a car break-in, no one would expect Christian to feel bad that Amy was found guilty and had to face punishment for it. But society has watered down the crime of racism so much that a victim feels the need to express sympathy to his attacker. Nothing about that is right.
Christian owes that woman nothing. She brought all of this “hurt” on herself.
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Aside from being a writer, Ashley is a mom of two girls and a wife to a passionate public school administrator. When she does have free time (cue laughter from working moms everywhere) she loves going to hot yoga classes, watching anything on Netflix that isn’t a cartoon, and weaving her way through every aisle of Target while listening to one of her favorite podcasts.