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 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 these both of these situations in the past month. Continue reading “Eyesight to the blind”

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

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. Continue reading “Houses and dogs and books…”

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? Continue reading “Roger Answers Your Questions, Denise, Tom, Shooting Parrots, Jaquandor & dogs”