The Karenization of Amy Cooper

she knew the gravity of her words

You’ve probably heard about the story of Amy Cooper, a white woman in Central Park. She could not be bothered to leash her dog, specifically required in the Ramble, a secluded section of the park popular with bird-watchers. Christian Cooper (no relation), a black man, and an avid birder pointed out the signage.

The now-famous video, viewed more than 40 million times. Amy approaches Christian and asks him to stop filming her, threatening to call the police. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she says. Her multitasking of dialing the police while holding her dog halfway off the ground went awry as the cocker spaniel thrashed around, trying to break free.

Amy Cooper lost her job at investment firm Franklin Templeton. She relinquished ownership of the dog as well.

Too glib

A couple of things about this story really bug me. One, obviously, involves the facts of the case. The other, though, is the reductivist moniker of Amy Cooper being labeled a Karen.

For those of you not in the know, a Karen is “a mocking slang term for an entitled, obnoxious, middle-aged white woman. Especially as featured in memes, Karen is generally stereotyped as having a blonde bob haircut, asking to speak to retail and restaurant managers to voice complaints or make demands, and being a nagging, often divorced mother from Generation X.”

I mean, if you are named Karen, Sharon, Becky, or Chad, How it feels when your name becomes a meme? I’m on the record hating Bye, Felicia.

It was Melody Cooper, Christian’s sister who first labeled her. “Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off-leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash.”

These labels seem to be directed far more at women than men. My daughter notes that a Karen is called different things, depending on her age; Kayleigh, Becky, Karen (roughly 35-44), Susan, and Gertrude. I don’t know a Kayleigh, but I’ve known women with the other names, and I find the designations demeaning.

More than a complaint to the manager

In any case, the actions of Amy Cooper were far more dangerous than the flippant designation. As the Boston Globe noted, “When [she] charged Christian and yelled, ‘I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,’ she knew the gravity of her words. Amy, not Christian, was the real danger, as she wielded the kind of weaponry that led to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis that same night.”

CNN’s John Blake notes, “There’s one epidemic we may never find a vaccine for: fear of black men in public spaces.” Specifically, “Why are black men still so feared in 2020? And what will it take for it to stop?”

Blake believes that “until more white people actually live among and befriend black people, that fear will persist. We have stories of white people who learned how to see the full humanity of black people after being forced into environments where they were ‘the only white person in the room.’

“Some were white jazz musicians or athletes who learned what it was like to share rooms, meals, and private lives with black men. One was Bill Bradley, the former Rhodes Scholar, NBA player, and US Senator… He talked about how he changed after becoming one of the few whites on the New York Knicks in the 1970s.

“‘I better understand distrust and suspicion [and] the meaning of certain looks and certain codes… What it is to be in racial situations for which you have no frame of reference,’ Bradley said in a 1991 speech to the National Press Club. ‘I understand the tension of always being on guard, of never totally relaxing.'”

As good as his name

Meanwhile, Christian Cooper is asking people to stop making death threats against the woman who called the cops on him

“‘That action was racist. Does that make [Amy Cooper] a racist? I can’t answer that. Only she can with what she does going forward,’ the former Marvel Comics editor, Harvard graduate and board member of the New York City Audubon Society said. He believed her actions went to a “racist place,” but wasn’t happy she lost her livelihood.

Eyesight to the blind

The man began upbraiding the canine.

blindIt’s not just a pet peeve. It’s more like a wave of raging anger that I get, when drivers make it more difficult for others in these specific ways, involving parking their cars:
1) across the sidewalk (because the driveway has too many cars)
2) blocking the crosswalk (because they’ll only be “a minute”)

These selfish people make it nearly impossible for people with walkers, or carts, or wheelchairs. And they create a very disorienting situation for the blind. I’ve never keyed a car, but these folks have tempted me.

But sometimes other activities make it trickier for the visually impaired, and I saw both of these situations in the past month. Albany was doing a lot of road repairs around the crosswalks, and the work areas were barricaded with barrels and mesh. The Wife and I were leaving the local Indian restaurant when we saw a blind man crossing the street, terrified because his dog seemed to take him too far into the road, but we were too far away to help him.

What was really scary is that the cars didn’t seem to slow down as they buzzed by him. As the dog got past the construction and headed for the sidewalk, the man began upbraiding the canine. We met up with the man and assured him that the dog did exactly as he was trained, but that they had to traverse further into the road to avoid the clutter around the sidewalk. The man was very appreciative to know that his companion had done right by him.

Waiting for a bus downtown, I let another blind man know that his bus was approaching. But the bus went a bit further up, so the man had to walk with his cane to get to the vehicle. Unfortunately, he walked into this square concrete barrier around a young tree, and the man couldn’t figure out what to do.

In general, I hate helping any type of disabled folks, unless they ask for it, or are in peril, because I figure they have their pride and sense of independence. But I directed this man around the barrier, where he could get into the transport.

I realize that, if I were ever to go blind, it wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world, with various technologies that would allow me to write, for instance. Still, as a sighted person, I am keenly aware of some of the difficulties that the blind face every day. I get just a taste of it at night, or in a darkened movie theater. I can only imagine how it would be to negotiate the world without sight full time.

Eyesight to the Blind: Sonny Boy Williamson II

November Rambling: Eddie, the Renaissance Geek, turns 50; Jaquandor’s book now available for purchase

The official video for Cuts Like a Winter by Rebecca Jade and the Cold Fact

christmas savings

John Oliver’s Complicated Fun Connects for HBO. Perhaps John Oliver Is Outdoing The Daily Show and Colbert. In any case, Yet Another Study Shows US Satire Programs Do A Better Job Informing Viewers Than Actual News Outlets.

The Motion Picture Academy chose to bestow a special award to Harry Belafonte, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. “Belafonte’s remarks offer both a pointed and powerful rebuke of Hollywood’s past and a stirring inducement to continue the industry’s more recent progress on human rights issues.”

Re the Ferguson protests, which I saw described as “mind-bogglingly incomprehensible”: It’s Incredibly Rare For A Grand Jury To Do What Ferguson’s Just Did, as even Antonin Scalia could tell you. So Mark Evanier’s thoughts largely echo mine. Related: video showing the moments leading up to the fatal shooting by police of a 22-year-old Saratoga Springs, Utah man, Darrien Hunt.

6 Things You Might Not Think Are Harassment But Definitely Are (BECAUSE APPARENTLY WE NEED TO CLEAR A FEW THINGS UP).

Eddie, the Renaissance Geek turns 50 this month and deals with melanoma on his birthday AND a disappointing Election Day with amazing good humor. No brain cancer, but there is cancer in the liver. Here’s a piece about the Purple Power Port. Insight into how Eddie’s brain works.

Why your brain loves rewards and how playing an instrument benefits your brain.

Jaquandor’s book STARDANCER is available for purchase. Now he’s off working on the next one. Please note, the book will NOT be available in all of these formats!

The Unbelievable Skepticism of the Amazing Randi, Uri Geller’s archrival.

I thought the Grimm fairy tales I own were rather grim, but the Grimm brothers’ fairytales have blood and horror restored in new translation. Also, fairy tale truths revealed.

Rise of the “Dones” at church.

Dustbury notes Kickstarter duds and password rules.

8 things you should never feed to cats and dogs. Such as chocolate, which we’re running out of, anyway.

Stamping Out Danger and a spy needed a perfect passport — down to the staples.

On Veterans Day, Marvel Comics saluted Jack Kirby… for his military service.

New Bill Watterson comic because we can’t have enough Bill Watterson.

Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins

Someone was doing a search for sources of vinyl records and discovered this image. “Damn, if Sonny Rollins doesn’t have a doppelganger right here at Corporate Woods.”

The Science Behind Why Some People Can Sing And Others Can’t.

Nice piece about Grace, who sings in my church choir.

The song Boy in the Bubble irritates me. More correctly, the fact that the 12″ version [LISTEN] hasn’t appeared on any Paul Simon album that I’m aware of bugs me. The only version I have I copied onto a cassette from a friend’s 12″.

The official video for Cuts Like a Winter by Rebecca Jade and the Cold Fact. Also, Bang Bang (Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj) cover by Siren’s Crush, featuring Rebecca Jade (the first niece).

Music by Jayne Mansfield, backed by Jimi Hendrix.

When some network news program comes back from the break playing some old song, there’s a good chance the artist has died. Such was the case for Jimmy Ruffin.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Dolly Parton has long been an icon to the gay community.

You know it’s All About That Baste and All About That Base (No Acid). This has become a cottage industry!

Elvis Costello goes grocery shopping, 1978.

Elvis Presley is dead, but how did he die?

Fans of music who like to flatly say U2 is no longer relevant need to define what they mean by that.

The Crosby, Stills and Nash cover photo. As opposed to Famous Album Cover Photos Uncropped to Reveal ‘The Bigger Picture’.

Remembering the pugilistic power of Rod Serling on the Twilight Zone.

A story about Welcome Back, Kotter’s John Sylvester-White who played the cranky school principal, Mr. Woodman.

Noel Neill is 95. Here are pictures from an earlier time.

It’s a floor wax AND a credit card.

Muppet galore: Quongo and Roosevelt Franklin (who I LOVED) and Frazzle and Gonzo’s enlightenment and Cookie Monster and John Oliver and clap, clap, clap. Also, “Sesame Street has a series online called Welcome to the Furchester Hotel, which is British but also features Elmo and Cookie Monster. It’s cute, and there’s a new 11-minute episode each Friday.”

Unlock the Secrets of your Poop.

GOOGLE ALERT (me)

A whale of a tale. Hat tip to Mr. Frog.

GOOGLE ALERT (not me)

Hanceville to seek a $160K grant for firefighter equipment. “Fire Chief Roger Green asked the council to approve applying for $159,547.76 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. The Cullman County Economic Development agency will write the grant for the fire department, Green said.” This is in Alabama, BTW.

Houses and dogs and books…

In all likelihood, you will pour every dime into the purchase, so that inevitable first repair of something you did not expect, you probably can’t afford.

Let me answer the rest of the questions from New York Erratic:

What would you say is the most difficult part of buying your first house? Is there something that you wish people would have told you?

I didn’t own my first house until I was 46 when I moved into the house my bride had purchased seven years earlier.

“Everyone” said that you’re “supposed” to own a house. I was never that interested in doing so.

My parents didn’t own a home until I went away to college. So I had no models in this area. While having to move every few years could be a pain, it was less of an encumbrance than a house.

In 2000, we bought our current home AND we were landlords; I HATED that. It was enough to take care of the living abode, but going over to mow the lawn and shovel the snow off the roof – it had a flat roof – was a royal pain. We sold it in 2004, shortly after The Daughter was born.

So to the question:
1) You DON’T have to buy a house.
2) If you do, it would be helpful to be handy with tools, which I am decidedly not.
3) In all likelihood, you will pour every dime into the purchase, so that inevitable first repair of something you did not expect, you probably can’t afford.
4) This will almost inevitably lead to buyers’ remorse. “How did I not notice that the dryer has a capacity of four shirts?” (This is true in our case, BTW.)
5) If you DO buy a house, you may spend lots of money on stuff that nobody can see. I was visiting my cousin Anne at Thanksgiving, and she told of the thousands of dollars spent to avoid flooding in the basement, expenditures no visitor or future purchaser will ever see. Some of our similar improvements involved spending thousands of dollars having a hole dug in the front yard to dislodge a tree root from the plumbing, lest we have sewage in the basement.

A LOT of investment in a house is all but invisible, and that can be REALLY discouraging. If I had it to do over again, I doubt I’d buy a house at all.

The single advantage is that people seem to think you are a “grownup” when you own a home.

Have you ever owned a dog?

Yeah, I was around 10, maybe (give or take two years). We had an Alaskan husky called Lucky Stubbs; I have no idea who named him, but it wasn’t I.

Anyway, he would nip me. I would say BITE but it didn’t draw blood or anything, so nip. But then he nipped one of the daughters of our minister. THEN my father gave him to a farmer where he’d have more room to roam than our tiny city back yard.

PS: after that, I was rather wary of dogs for years.

What’s your favorite spice?

Scary Spice.

OK, I jest. Cinnamon.

Old used books or brand new never read books?

Usually new, unless they are vintage. Books are like cars in that when they’re about 20 years old, they’re just old, but at some point they become VINTAGE. I have a hymnal from 1849, and another book from that period called Verdant Green, and THOSE are, as the kids used, are COOL.

Roger Answers Your Questions, Denise, Tom, Shooting Parrots, Jaquandor & dogs

I have no “traditional Christmas dinner menu”. Over the years, it’s been ham, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, lasagna, probably roast beef, even Chinese takeout.

What a great bunch of responses to my request!


Ginger, Buddy and Shadow proving doggie wisdom from Pawprints in the Sands of Time ask the fundamental question:
Alright, here’s for your wish…Why do u want us to play this game of questions and answers this Christmas?

Because I learn so much, both about the person, er, entity, who is asking, and more, about myself as I think about things that might not have otherwise occurred to me. In other words, it’s an exercise in self-reflection.
***
I “know” Denise Nesbitt – and “know” is such an interesting term for someone you have never actually met, but it’s accurate nevertheless – through her creation of ABC Wednesday. She also can be found at Mrs. Nesbitt’s Space.

OK, What did you buy your wife, mother, and daughter for Christmas Roger?

There was this Medieval Faire every year at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, NY for about 30 years. And while I was going out with Carol, I sometimes -thrice, she tells me – would buy her a hand knit wool sweater from this particular woman. Then the faire stopped for about eight years. I’d buy her a sweater from LL Bean, and once from this Irish shop across the river in Troy, but it just wasn’t the same. Then last year, the faire was backe…I mean, back! Unfortunately, this particular vendor couldn’t make it, as she had another commitment. Bummer. But this year, she was back, Carol hinted heavily what she wanted, we walked away, but later, I came back and bought. There was also this teddy bear that she lost, that was given to her by her late brother; I found not quite a replica, but close.

Lydia got a lot of things: books, clothes, an enhanced version of the old game Twister, with CDs rather than a spinner; the big thing was this expensive doll she wanted, complete with wardrobe. In fact, her mother and I had purchased SO many items, we held some back for her birthday, three months hence. At that same Faire I mentioned, there was a soap in the shape of a seashell that Santa discovered she wanted.

My mother has been difficult to shop for for years. If you ask her directly, she’ll either say, “Oh anything” or “You needn’t bother.” Unhelpful to be sure. But my sister tells me that she really likes these puzzle books. I ended going to the CVS Pharmacy, found a couple of those, plus a lap blanket and a bathrobe – it’s been COLD in North Carolina lately.
***
Shooting Parrots, who provides “random thoughts in a random world”, asks:
What was the best ever Christmas present you received? And which was the worst?!
I think the best is the unexpected: my father helping me on my Sunday paper route on Christmas morning in 1966, or our first color TV in 1969, or the free tree my then significant other and I got on Christmas Eve 1991 from Sears, and took home on a city bus.
Worst?

Haven’t a clue. I mean, I groan when my wife gives me clothes, but it really isn’t a bad gift. Maybe it’s because I’ve mastered the art of regifting, long before I’d ever heard the term.
***
Tom the Mayor I know from my time at FantaCo, though I actually met him when he worked at the Albany YMCA on Washington Avenue (RIP).
Do you ever feel any bigotry in your neighborhood in Albany? Do you think that Racial attitudes have changed since you first moved to Albany?

Interesting question. I always wonder how it would have been growing up in Albany. But I didn’t get here until I was 26 and already with the receding hairline. And some people know who I am here, a couple recognizing me from my Times Union blog just this week.

I’m not saying that my life in Albany has been incident-free. More than once, people have yelled racist comments, usually from moving vehicles. But that hasn’t happened in at least a decade.

I recall that in the early 1990s I got unsolicited lectures (at least twice) about the problems of miscegenation, not for the adults involved, but for “the children” that might arrive. So I’m curious how this will play out for my daughter, whether she’ll be subjected to that. It was really important for us that Lydia go to a diverse daycare, and she had friends who were black, white, and Asian. I have cautious hope that things are indeed better.
***
Buffalo’s finest blogger, Jaquandor at Byzantium Shores asks:
1. You are ordered to design a new menu for your family’s Christmas dinner…with the one stipulation that you use none of the dishes that are currently featured in your traditional Christmas dinner. What’s the menu?

Here’s the problem: I have no “traditional Christmas dinner menu”. Over the years, it’s been ham, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, lasagna, probably roast beef, even Chinese takeout. So I would have to go with hot dogs, hamburgers, fish filets, French fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches. What, no veggies? Again, it’s been all over the map, so it’s either a vegetable I’ve had, or do not like.

2. Are there any current “reality” shows that you would actually consider auditioning for?
If by stretching the definition to include game shows, “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire”, maybe. My antipathy for reality shows isn’t just with the game, it’s the editing to make the program more dramatic.

3. If you ran into Bill O’Reilly somewhere on the street on, say, December 19, would you tell him “Happy Holidays!” just to see him get angry? (I know I would!)
Yeah, except it’d be “Happy holidays, Bill,” so he knew I knew who he was.

4. Do you have high hopes, medium hopes, or not much hope at all for Governor-elect Cuomo?
Medium-low. I thought he ran a lousy campaign, he was not very forthcoming – his financials didn’t come out until weeks after the election – and I just don’t much trust him. The only reason he won is that he was running against a nutcase. I didn’t even vote for him. (No, I didn’t vote for Paladino, I voted for Howie Hawkins on the Green Party line, because it was evident that Cuomo was going to win anyway.)

Of course, to be fair, I’m not sure what ANYONE can do about this state and local government crisis. Did you see that 60 Minutes segment? ALL the states are in big fiscal trouble.

Well, next time out: Demeur, Anthony, Gordon, Scott, ChrisJ, and anyone else who wants to play.