How Four White Officers and Amy Cooper Keep this Middle-Aged, Straight White Woman Up at Night
As I write this, the protest for George Floyd is still very active online. Thousands showed up in Minneapolis, marching to a local police precinct to point out another senseless loss of life.
Elsewhere, I imagine Amy Cooper is punishing herself repeatedly for horrendous actions toward a black man and her own dog.
While I stand in solidarity with those who admonish these cruel acts, I often keep thoughts to myself. I am a middle-aged, straight white woman. I’m only one rung down from the top, and there’s no way I’ll ever entirely understand what it means to face real persecution. Sure, I’ve lived through plenty of wage and respect inequality issues, but that’s nothing I couldn’t easily overcome by becoming self-employed and proving my worth to loyal clients. I’ve had it easy since day one.
I got my first dose of witnessing injustice while an investigative journalist in Texas. One of my colleagues, Carl Warren, would frequently arrive late when visiting me. On his third visit, he told me why. He was repeatedly stopped by local police, wanting to know where he was going. Carl was a 40-something black man, and I lived in a predominantly white neighborhood. Eventually, as I became more acquainted with the chief of police, I brought up the issue. Soon after, Carl was arriving on time. It took a 24-year-old white female reporter to put the officers in check.
As soon as the cop in the back window showed his gun, I knew they were definitely telling me to stop the car.
In the mid-90s, I was an editor for a comic book publisher. Many artists we worked with were from New York City. As such, most didn’t have a driver’s license. As starving artists and independent publishers often did, we’d carpool to cities all over the US, and sleep 4–6 in a cheap motel room. Ready to head to Toronto, two artists took a bus from New York to Albany. I picked them up in the late evening, and we geared up for the 6.5-hour drive.
Only, I got lost coming out of the bus terminal. I couldn’t tell you exactly where I turned, but I found us in a desolate neighborhood. This was before the wide use of GPS…