Amy Cooper Needs Accountability—Not Forgiveness
Each time a white person does something harmful to a Black person or person of color, the first thing we hear from white people and those who don’t want to think critically, are cliched responses about forgiveness and how people deserve a second chance. There’s too much that is overlooked or minimized with these laughable arguments to give a white person a pass. Let’s use Amy Cooper who is back in the news after calling the cops on a Black man in Central Park as an example.
White Women—Liberal or Conservative—Are Part of The System
In May, Amy Cooper was walking her dog in a section in Central Park that forbids dogs being off leash when she encountered Chris Cooper (no relation), a Black man and avid bird watcher. When he told her to leash her dog, she got mad and approached him. She was even more incensed when she realized that he was, smartly, recording the encounter. She told him that she was going to call the cops if he didn’t stop, though he wasn’t doing anything wrong and he told her to maintain her distance as she kept trying to approach him. Angry, she said she was going to call the cops and made a point to let Chris know that she would tell them “an African-American man” was threatening her.
She knew precisely where race stood in this dynamic and made a point to let him know she would capitalize on her white women status and, especially, Chris’s Black man status to both put him in danger, and put him in his place. It’s no secret that police are a weapon of white people and white supremacy. It’s becoming a tragic joke, that cops are white people’s security team.
White women, particularly love to weaponize their perceived fragility, innocence and their power their white skin gives them, to use police as a means of endangering Black people. From Carolyn Bryant to Susan Leigh Smith, white women continue endangering Black people for their own selfish reasons that have nothing to do with our actions and everything to do with their racism and desires.
While a white trump supporter will tells us clearly that they have no regard for Black people or people of color, the white person who votes and donates to Democratic candidates (like records show Amy Cooper has done in the past) is far more insidious because they appear as allies, many of them will even believe they are allies.
Grace For Who?
White people after the video trended on social media of the encounter between Amy Cooper and Chris Cooper, of course, primarily extended their sympathies to the dog who was yelping as Amy did her best fearful white women impression for her 911 call, claiming Chris threatened her and her dog, while she herself was yanking on her dog’s leash and collar causing it to yelp. When this came out she; fortunately, lost her job and though she did lose her dog briefly, it was returned to her.
Then they went further creating scenarios to sympathize with Amy because she lost her job. After all, she lost her job in the middle of a pandemic and who knows about her family situation and who will suffer because she was unemployed. Here’s a twist: who cares.
People get fired from jobs/laid off all the time. Black people and people of color are usually the first to be fired or laid off and that’s if manage to get the job. Their race plays a role in whether they get hired and fired. Her conduct led to her being fired, not her race. When a Black person loses a job because of their skin color that is beyond their control—Amy Cooper’s actions were within her control. She made a conscious choice to put a Black man’s life in jeopardy.
How many Black people and people of color’s lives and quality of life have been harmed coming into contact with Amy Cooper prior to this because she felt the need to use her status as a white women to harm them? Feel bad for them, not someone reaping what they sowed.
It Was A White Supremacy Move
Amy Cooper recently popped up back in the news for two reasons. One, she has been charged with a misdemeanor for falsely reporting an incident. And…she apparently made a second call to the cops that day going further than claiming Chris Cooper threatened her, but now saying he tried to assault her. When police came, she admitted that she lied which is why she is now being charged.
Too many felt bad for her and believed she never intended to harm Chris Cooper. Not only is this doubtful—she called the cops twice and claimed attempted assault the second time which gives cops the added excuse that not only is the “threat” a Black man, but likely a “violent, Black man”, but it doesn’t change the fact that even if she didn’t anticipate Chris Cooper being killed, she wanted to make him afraid to teach him a lesson. She knew an encounter with police, especially in these situations, do not work in a Black man’s favor and she took full advantage of that knowledge. After all, how dare a Black man approach her a white women and ask her not to do something?
And white supremacy isn’t solely uplifting white people, it’s indifference to the lives of others—which Amy demonstrated—and the need to exert that force on another as punishment for overstepping—she demonstrated that as well.
Stop handing out forgiveness, especially if you’re not part of the group she harmed. Every time we allow this, you let others who do it know they can attain forgiveness with no effort—just a weak apology—and this decreases the likelihood they will actually change while increasing the instances Black people and people of color will be harmed. There’s no one to do better if we don’t make that expectation clear. These are not children and they do not need coddling. They need accountability.
And it doesn’t matter if you’re marching for equality. It doesn’t matter if you’re donating to your democratic hopeful. It doesn’t matter if you’re signing petitions for change. If this is how you behave when you’re around us and we are not behaving in a deferential manner, so you threaten us with harm, you are part of the problem. Do the work.