Woman calls police on a black man in Central Park who asked her to put her dog on a leash

Yet another video of yet another white woman calling the police on yet another black person is making the rounds, and by now we should all be able to sing along to the familiar tune. It's like the worst song ever written but it's played so often you can't get it out of your head.

Intro: White woman ignores a rule everyone is asked to follow.

Verse 1: White woman gets angry when a black person points out that the rule actually does apply to her.

Verse 2: White woman gets aggressive when the black person starts gathering video evidence of her response.

Bridge: White woman demands that the black person stop gathering evidence—or else.

Chorus: White woman calls the police, turns on the waterworks and claims that the black person calmly filming her tirade is, in fact, threatening her life.


This week's video shows Amy Cooper, a white woman who had her dog off-leash in an area of Central Park that required a leash, calling the police on Christian Cooper (no relation), a black birdwatcher who told her she needed to put her dog on a leash. The video is striking, from the man having to repeatedly tell the woman, "Please step away from me" as she approached to the hysteria in her voice as she told the police—repeatedly—that "an African-American man" was threatening her life.

Christian Cooper wrote in a post her shared on Facebook with video of part of the encounter:

"Central Park this morning: This woman's dog is tearing through the plantings in the Ramble.

ME: Ma'am, dogs in the Ramble have to be on the leash at all times. The sign is right there.
HER: The dog runs are closed. He needs his exercise.
ME: All you have to do is take him to the other side of the drive, outside the Ramble, and you can let him run off leash all you want.
HER: It's too dangerous.
ME: Look, if you're going to do what you want, I'm going to do what I want, but you're not going to like it.
HER: What's that?
ME (to the dog): Come here, puppy!
HER: He won't come to you.
ME: We'll see about that...

I pull out the dog treats I carry for just for such intransigence. I didn't even get a chance to toss any treats to the pooch before Karen scrambled to grab the dog.

HER: DON'T YOU TOUCH MY DOG!!!!!

That's when I started video recording with my iPhone, and when her inner Karen fully emerged and took a dark turn..."

There's so much that we could dissect about this story, but it's not like we haven't see this before. Predictably, there has been huge public outcry over the incident. Predictably, Amy Cooper issued an apology, telling CNN, "I'm not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way." Predictably, some white folks have expressed more concerned over the woman's treatment of her dog than they were over her putting a black man's life in danger.

I have no doubt that this woman doesn't think she's racist. Most white folks don't think we are. The only white people who openly acknowledge our own racism are blatant white supremacists and those who recognize that racism is woven into our social DNA. And doing something racist, then immediately saying "I'm not a racist"—as if the identity of being a racist or not is the issue and not the fact that your actions were undeniably racist—is, again, a predictable pattern.

That's going to keep happening until enough white Americans acknowledge that racism lives in all of us. We are citizens of a country founded during the heyday of the transatlantic slave trade, a country whose most celebrated history is completely inseparable from the enslavement of black people, a country whose bloodiest war was fought over whether or not white people had the right to own people based on the color of their skin. We can't change that history, but we have to acknowledge how that foundation—and the centuries of systematic oppression of black people in America that followed—have impacted us and continue to impact us.

Hell, even the fact that this white woman and this black man share the same last name hearkens to the disturbing possibility that they might have historical ties to one another, as it was common for black Americans to take the last names of the people who enslaved them.

I've seen people attempting to defend this woman, saying she simply acted out of fear. But the way she says, "I'm going to tell them that an African-American man is threatening my life," is chilling. It indicates that she knew that telling the police his race would have a specific effect. She used the image of a black man threatening the life of a white woman as a weapon against a man who politely asked her to stop approaching him and who simply wanted her to put her damn dog on a leash, per the park's rules.

What's most telling is the dichotomy between the fear this woman purposely portrayed on her phone call and the actual power she is wielding as she does it. Angry at being called out for breaking the rules and being filmed for her reaction, she used her white woman privilege to make a phone call to the police as if they were her personal customer service line, flipping from aggression to victimhood at the drop of a hat, knowing that her side of the story was more likely to be believed than his—even with video evidence to the contrary being collected in real-time. This is everyday racism in action.

And from all appearances, Christian Cooper just wanted to be able to birdwatch without an unleashed dog mucking things up. He told CNN that he would accept Amy Cooper's apology: "If it's genuine and if she plans on keeping her dog on a leash in the Ramble going forward, then we have no issues with each other." But an apology doesn't go nearly far enough here, in my opinion.

As with all viral videos dealing with racism, I hope we all learn something from seeing this play out. I hope my fellow white Americans are able to see how egregious her behavior was, how the racism that festers beneath the surface of the white American subconscious reared its head to display its power here, how saying "I'm not a racist" is just a string of meaningless words that don't belong in an apology for racist actions. I hope people can see the pattern as predictable at this point—a truth that has been shared by black thought leaders over and over again but keeps falling on deaf ears. I hope people who see all of this seek out anti-racism resources to educate themselves. (This Google doc is a good place to start).

I hope that we realize how well we actually know the song at this point, and get so sick of it that we start singing an entirely new tune.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Family

Two sisters ask their stepmom to adopt them with sweet memory book

"We were already calling her mom because it felt so natural."

Gabriella Ruvolo/TikTok

Gabriella and Julianna Ruvolo asked their stepmom to adopt them in a touching video.

Sisters Gabriella and Julianna Ruvolo know that they're extremely lucky. Their stepmom Becky Ruvolo has been there for them for most of their lives and it's clear that they're grateful to her for it. On May 9, Gabriella posted a video to TikTok to share the very special way the young women honored their stepmom for Mother's Day.

In the short clip, you can see Becky flanked by the two girls, flipping through a book. On the video are the words "After 12 years… we finally asked our step-mom to adopt us." As Becky goes through the pages, you can see her becoming increasingly more emotional before she gets to the last page. By then, all three of the women are crying.

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