Amy Cooper reveals the danger of post-racial thinking

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Carly Davis

On Monday, May 25, a white woman called the police on a black man because he asked her to leash her dog while walking in a leashed-dogs-only portion of New York City’s Central Park.
Identified as Amy Cooper, the woman told the police phone operator that an African American man was threatening her and her dog. The video the man filmed showed otherwise. He asked her to leash her dog, offered the dog a treat and told the woman, “please don’t come close to me,” when she comes less than six feet away from him.
The video of the event went viral Monday night, and Tuesday morning Cooper was put on administrative leave by her employer and her dog was voluntarily re-sheltered.
Social media users were quick to label Cooper as a MAGA conservative, with Twitter user @SarahBCalif saying that Cooper “represents everything Trump loves: racism, hatred, lying and a dog hater.” However, leaked campaign donations reveal otherwise. Cooper had given money to John Kerry, Barack Obama and Pete Buttigieg-all democrats.
Amy Cooper, like many white liberals, understands that racism is a part of our society, but she does not recognize how it directly benefits her at the expense of people of color. While on the other hand, dehumanizing Cooper for her actions encourages the mindset that led to those actions in the first place.
The rise of the “Karen” classification on social media for self-centered, short-haired white women has encouraged the dehumanization of people like Amy Cooper. I’m an avid Twitter user (to my chagrin), and the number of videos posted of white women calling the police on a person and making false claims has risen steadily in the last few months. With it, the number of Twitter reactionaries who “cancel” these random Karens has skyrocketed as well.
Cancelling the average person for racist actions or words has its own consequences. When social media users label a person by their actions alone, they allow that person to become a symbol rather than an individual. They assert that bad people aren’t as human as the rest of us, and separate “us” and “them.” Dehumanizing a (usually) white person for singular racist actions allows other white people, myself included, to distance ourselves from the bad, racist whites and label ourselves as woke.
This allows white people, usually white liberals, to believe that we are above people like Amy Cooper. We start to think in terms of “us” and “them,” believing that only conservatives can be racist and that liberals (or leftists or democratic socialists or whatever we decide to call ourselves) are always on the right side of history.
In doing so, we excuse our own racism. White people benefit not only from institutional racism in the way our communities are funded by the government and treated by police, but from internalized racism as well. Our mindsets are fundamentally different because we are told through our preferential treatment that we are good and right. That skewed way of thinking makes it easy for white liberals to assume that by recognizing how racism is part of our lives we suddenly become immune to it.
The post-racial approach to politics is no better than people who “don’t see color.” It enables us to pretend we are not capable of racism because we acknowledge its presence. Post-woke thinking creates the assumption that unlike the other whites, white liberals have reformed themselves because they have conquered their own racism by thinking about it hard enough. In believing they are incapable of the cruelty they accuse others of, post-woke individuals unknowingly commit those harmful actions.
Donating to Democratic politicians does not mean Cooper is immune to internalized racism. White liberals have to recognize the potential racism behind our actions and address it before we end up calling the cops and inadvertently risking someone’s wellbeing at the expense of our own insecurity.
Cooper’s actions are a cautionary tale for white Americans on the left. We have an obligation to ourselves and to the people of color we may endanger to unlearn our pretension and infallible, woke attitudes. No matter how much we condemn the racism of others, we can never assume we are above it.
Featured graphic by Carly Davis.