The Ramble is a 2.1 mile walk from my place in New York City.
The walk through Central Park to get there is obviously a lovely one. So much green, a true escape from the realities of the city itself. Including the cannibal rats.
But the true beauty of New York City, in my eyes, is a result of the incredible diversity of people with whom I share this city. The multiple languages overheard. Different races and ethnicities interacting with one another as fellow human beings.
New York City is not a melting pot - it is the definition of a salad bowl.
But even in one of the most diverse, progressive cities in the world, racism is still alive and well. And this is coming from a person who is a minority and HATES playing the race card, even though I have been the subject of racism and racial profiling a few times over my life. Including here.
You know where I am going with this. Yes, the words Christian Cooper said when put in a bubble could be viewed as threatening. But Amy Cooper's actions and reactions occurred AFTER he had exposed the dog treats and were thus inconsistent with a perceived threat on her life.
When she made the phone call, she knowingly weaponized his race. That is not up for debate.
She knew very well what could happen if she called the police and played the race card. We have sadly seen it all too often, including most recently in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Who called for his mom with one of his final breaths. Whose mom had only died a year earlier.
Man, that fucking still tears at my heart strings.
Racism in this country is a HUGE problem. I understand that well.
I do not care if your friend circle is diverse. I do not care if you have never had a racist thought in your life. I do not care if you are an "at-risk" minority. Racism, whether institutionalized or not, exists. Implicit racial bias exists. Most, if not all of us, are guilty of it to some extent.
I know I have racial bias, and I am not proud of it.
I was robbed at gunpoint when I was 18 by a black man at my parent's Arby's. I nearly got attacked by a black man on Skid Row in Los Angeles while passing out donated dinners. So when a black man I do not know engages me in a vulnerable environment, I have reacted with fear more often than I wish.
But in those nonthreatening scenarios, I also immediately recognized my racial bias, acknowledged the individual did nothing wrong, took a deep breath, calmed down, and became rational once again.
Past experiences do not get to define future experiences.
And recognizing that bias when it becomes apparent is the first step towards forgiveness. And for moving forward, both an an individual and as a society.
During this pandemic, I have written extensively about being socially responsible. About caring about your fellow human. But whether race-driven or not, what I have come to depressingly acknowledge is this simple fact:
Many people simply devalue and have a callous disregard for human life that is not their own or that of a loved one. Period.
If you do not wear a mask, you devalue another's life.
If you do not social distance, you devalue another's life.
If you believe this is all a political ploy to restrict your freedoms, your beliefs trump another's life.
The devaluing of human life comes in many forms. This is just a more subtle one than racism.
We witnessed the brutality George Floyd endured. The brutality Ahmaud Arbery endured. The way Christian Cooper was treated. If you are a decent human being, you should be outraged.
But the brutality of a disease that has not affected a person or a loved one is harder to put into context. Just as it is so hard for someone who is white to put themselves in the shoes of a black man.
They are two sides of the same coin in regards to the devaluing of human life.
These people are weaponizing their bodies in the name of so-called freedom, my body, my choice. So if any of these people are demonstrating outrage over Amy Cooper.
Or Derek Chauvin. Or Gregory and Travis McMichael. And so many more.
Then is this outrage actually over the devaluing or unnecessary death of a human being, or is it really about blending in with what society as a whole judges is right only when it is convenient?
You know, when it is convenient for them to be a sheep and all.
I will patiently wait for an answer.
But if it is because they actually DO care about valuing another's life, that these individuals lives matter, then there should be outrage over ANY instance where human life is devalued or discarded.
Black peoples lives have been devalued by many. The 100k+ people who have so far died of COVID-19 have been devalued by many.
The devaluing of human life is where they are similar. But do not think I am equating not wearing a mask to living the life of a black individual. I am not.
Racism is obviously different because a person does not get to choose who they are. Christian Cooper, Armaud Aubery, and George Floyd did not choose to be black. Yet being who they are put them in danger or cost them their life.
And these racial disparities continue to become even more apparent as COVID-19 has killed many more black people due to long-problematic income and health inequalities.
We have a race problem here in America, and it is showing itself in all its horrible forms during this pandemic.
Everyone should be outraged. Armaud Arbery, George Floyd, and many others have lost their lives through no fault of their own besides the color of their skin.
This pandemic will eventually go away. But the war against racism will continue.
But we need to do whatever we can to elicit change so we REvalue human life, where we consistently give a damn about one another, not only when it is convenient for us. This could be as significant for calling for justice and arrests for murder. Or as simple as wearing a mask.
People say they value others lives, but their actions and words seem to consistently contradict them.
I am so tired of the denial, the lack of acknowledgement. The amount of cognitive dissonance in America is astounding.
But most importantly, it is incredibly dangerous.