Most of my social media posts and comments this week have been in response to two events: Amy Cooper’s false claims against Christian Cooper (no relation) and George Floyd’s senseless, horrifying death.
I know not to respond when I am emotional. Usually, I am successful at waiting until I calm down so I can speak rationally and, hopefully, be heard. While I will never misrepresent myself with foul language, I did have to delete two responses this week. One, because it was dismissive of someone else’s point of view, and the other because it was way over the top.
I heard about Amy Cooper before I heard about George Floyd. My brother posted his sentiments regarding Amy Cooper’s termination from her job after falsely reporting a black man was attacking her and her dog. Christian Cooper, a birder, had only asked Ms. Cooper to leash her dog, which was the rule in the park.
Two of my brother’s connections, Tim and Judy, both insisted there was another side of the story. My position was and is that if this woman was afraid, which was apparently “the other side of the story,” she would not walk toward the person who scared her. She would run away quickly.
To add insult to injury, she then informs Mr. Cooper, “I’m going to call the cops and tell them an African American man is threatening me and my dog.” This was delivered in a "so there" tone, which suggested to me she had probably done this before. To escalate the matter further, the third time she repeats her lie to 911 she makes her voice tremble hysterically to sound as if she is actually being attacked.
Bottom line, she didn’t like Mr. Cooper telling her what to do - so much so she decided—yes, decided—to put his life in danger. Her story immediately blew up on social media, resulting in her termination Every decision she made rendered her so-called apology, which was simply regret at having to suffer consequences, useless and false.
I can’t imagine what side of this story would justify Amy’s behavior, and it was disheartening to see the racist comments regarding the video.
Then I saw the footage of George Floyd’s execution. There is no other way to describe it. I could not believe what I was seeing. I screamed at my television as I watched Derek Chauvin kneel on Mr. Floyd’s neck as if he were kneeling on a pillow. Tau Thao wandered about as if he was waiting to direct traffic. They were so nonchalant, so confident there would be no consequences, they didn’t even try to block the video footage. They were way too comfortable, perhaps because they’d had practice.
Is this where we are? How many others have been tortured and killed when there were no eyewitnesses and cell phones? If this is not demonic behavior, I don’t know what is.
The Bible says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].” Eph. 6:12
I don’t have children, but I have two nephews who are bi-racial. My brother only has to have “The Talk” about how to stay alive as a young man with dark skin with one of his sons. The knowledge that his beige-toned, green-eyed son will never be pulled over for driving while black comforts, yet cuts. He will never be followed around a store as if he is a thief. He will never have the police called because he was hired to pull weeds in a white neighborhood. He will never have anyone spew the n-word at him. He will never have armed men in a pick-up truck track and eventually shoot him. Yet all these nevers for one son are inevitable for the other. That is the knowledge that cuts. One son has privilege and the other is a target.
I do not believe that someone reaches 20, 30, 40 years old without letting their mask slip. Somebody, most likely many bodies, have heard, seen or witnessed a sneer, an off-hand comment, or unusual force.
We are not going to change prejudice. We can’t make anyone accept, respect, or like another race. The only thing that is going to evoke change is if there are severe consequences. This starts when those who witness the red flags say something, even if the behavior is witnessed when that officer is not on the clock. That is when people show their true colors.
Firing is not enough. Had we seen 4 black officers kneel on a white man’s neck, punishment would have been swift and severe. There would be no petitions, no marches, and no riots. Yet it took social outrage and 4 months for Ahmaud Arbery’s killers to be arrested. And we’re still waiting for arrests for George Floyd. There must be justice.
White people, in particular, need to speak up. You cannot call yourself a friend to people of color and never express empathy or care enough to ask the question, “What can I do?” By not saying anything, by burying your head in the sand, you inadvertently show your consent. You have your knee on Black America’s neck.
No one wants to believe they are racist, so if you believe racism is reprehensible you must act. Wake up. Join the fight. Take a small step by signing a petition. Express your outrage with your voice, with your pen, with your march, and with your prayers.
Just, for the love of all humanity, do something.