The events of the last week, namely the murder of George Floyd by a police officer and the incident in Central Park with Christian Cooper, a Harvard educated African American man who request for leashing a dog ended up with the threat of police action for no reason. Seeing these events unfold were horrifying. When George Floyd, gasping for breath called for his deceased Mama, my heart broke even more. I debated whether I wanted to watch the video, and in the end, I chose to. As horrible as it was, I felt it was important to see with my own eyes something that we can no longer turn away from.
There is a famous Latin quote, ‘Culpae poenae par esto. ‘ Let the punishment fit the crime. George Floyd’s was passing a counterfeit bill. Christian Cooper’s was being in the right place, at the wrong time, trying to enjoy his hobby – bird watching. Ahmaud Arbery’s crime was jogging. Two out of the three were guilty of nothing, and the third made a mistake that a white person would have just received a warning for. The punishment did not fit the crime and neither will the police officer with a charge of third degree murder. Anyone guilty of a hate crime, and let’s not kid ourselves, Arbery and Floyd’s deaths were hate crimes, should have also have that as part of their punishment and sentence.
Christian Cooper said something very interesting:
“Any of us can make — not necessarily a racist mistake, but a mistake,” Mr. Cooper said, “And to get that kind of tidal wave in such a compressed period of time, it’s got to hurt. It’s got to hurt.” He continued with:
“I’m not excusing the racism,” he said. “But I don’t know if her life needed to be torn apart.”
Forgiving words. We all have knee jerk reactions. My first reaction is that Amy Cooper got what she deserved. My friend, who like me, is part of a minority group, said the following about her firing:
“I think people like this should keep their jobs but be on permanent probation. They need to expected to be involved in multi-racial social projects and report back to their supervisors and the community with the hope that this can bring about a greater caring. While keeping their jobs donations will made from portions of their income to social projects. Firing has the potential to increase resentment and more trouble.”
It made me stop for a minute, and think, maybe there is more than one way to look at things. When someone who is racist looks at a black person, their knee-jerk reaction is to think criminal. If you are somewhat open-minded, your first reaction is that Amy Cooper should be fired. But, what if the right answer is somewhere in between? Remember that with anything in life, there is always going to be your version, my version, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Just food for thought.
Cityline host (a Canadian national lifestyle show) Tracy Moore happens to be a woman of colour. She was DM’d by people for speaking out about how white people can make life less frustrating for people of colour. She was told that she is a racist. She used a hashtag that I found interesting #allyisaverb. It’s true. A black person shouldn’t be comforting guilty white people right now, it’s not their job. Imagine if for 400 years, you were enslaved, then freed, then still not having full rights, you finally get some in the 1960s, only to see hatred and bigotry continue on. To see every step forward met with one step back. If you aren’t aware, read. If you don’t want to read a book, find an article. But, don’t make it their job to explain the issues to you. We live in a digital age, use the internet.
Canadians have to stop thinking that we are better than Americans. There are hate crimes here too. As a Jewish woman, I’ve seen so many reports of synagogue being desecrated I’ve lost count. Hate crimes against Jews are on the rise. I live in absolute fear, not that I will be harmed, but that the cemetery where my mother is will be desecrated. A non-minority person never has to even think of this. Imagine having to worry that in an instant, something that you poured your heart into could be destroyed by someone who hates you for how you were born.
There is a debate if Judaism is a nationality, race or religion. Many do not consider me white. That’s fine, I’ll take it. As a minority, I feel that it is my duty to speak out wherever it is possible. To realize that ally is a verb. To hope that our adage of “Never Again” applies not just to a second Holocaust for Jewish people, but for all victims of racism, sexism or hatred of any kind.