So, based on what I am seeing on social media, everyone is calling Amy Cooper “Karen.” Apparently, this is slang for my generation (I am seriously just learning about this during this week), where Karen is defined as “a pejorative term for a person perceived to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is considered appropriate or necessary.” Well, I feel really terribly for people who are actually named Karen.
So while I’ve learned that, I am also learning via social media, both generally on Twitter and within my own social networks, a) how surprised people are that the Amy Cooper/Christian Cooper incident happened right here in New York City and b) that Amy Cooper is not a conservative Trump supporter, but rather a registered Democrat who has repeatedly donated to progressive causes. Neither is surprising to me, and I’m actually shocked that people are surprised by this.
First off, just because someone lives in an outwardly liberal/progressive city like New York or San Francisco does NOT mean the person is for the equality of races, and it certainly does not guarantee the person actually cares about people outside of themselves and their families. Bigots, both closeted and those out in the open, are literally everywhere.
Second, while there are vocal and outward bigots who hate black people, Asian people, Latino people, think women are lesser species than men, etc., they are the obvious people we need to go against if we have any heart or soul. The people who are truly a danger that we should all be worried about are the ones who harbor subconscious racism, sexism, and bigotry without even being aware of it. That’s scary… because how do you identify these people? And that racism/sexism/bigotry tends to come out only when said person feels threatened, which is exactly what happened in Amy Cooper’s case in the Ramble. As Martin Luther King, Jr., so aptly put it in his letter he wrote from the Birmingham Jail:
“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.
That was 57 years ago, but how true it still painfully rings today when incidents such as these continue to crop up, when the white men and women who surround us at school, at work, in our social circles, make subtle racist comments without even realizing they are being racist. They initially appear as micro aggressions, but they are just masked racist thoughts. They say they voted for Obama or love Michelle Obama. They say they donate to the ACLU. But that’s what they want to show of themselves to the public.
I would even challenge that the people who are surprised by either point above are part of the problem, that they desperately need to educate themselves on the voices and opinions of people of color because they clearly are out of touch with reality. They are the ones who need to read more, listen more, and seek out more information. But will they, or will they just be paralyzed by their shock that wow, a white Democrat-voting woman could be racist and do what Amy Cooper did? So shocking! Or, wow, something this could actually happen in New York City?
And that is absolutely terrifying.