Several years ago, in a federal courthouse here in Texas, a lawyer friend tried a case of white discrimination. A white man was fired under suspicious circumstances. His boss had used the term “gringo,” often. If the man’s race had been Hispanic and the term used was “greaser,” then most persons in Texas would agree that the very offensive term showed discriminatory bias. Yet, during the trial, the Hispanic judge pushed back, saying that when he was a young boy playing basketball, they often used the term “gringo.” He was saying that if he and his friends used a discriminatory term, then it was okay.
I recall a federal judge in the 1970’s. Published reports indicated he used the n—- word on occasion. The judge’s supporters said, well, he grew up using that term. He was from a different generation.
Today, we have a new term, “Karen” to describe white women who feel entitled. Elliot Williams, a former DOJ lawyer, discusses the recent incident in New York’s Central Park. He wrote a piece finding Amy Cooper’s actions to amount to racism. She brought up race early in her encounter with Christian Cooper in Central Park, notes Mr. Williams. In his view, that indicates her racism.What Lawyer Williams wholly omits is that also early in their interaction, Christian Cooper, African-American, told her to release her “inner Karen.” See the opinion piece here. Mr. Cooper was taunting Ms. Cooper. He told the woman he would start doing “something” and she would not like it. Mr. Cooper apparently meant he would start videotaping her. But, she had no way to know what his intentions were. Christian Cooper engaged in his own provocation. It seems neither party emerges from this altercation with clean hands.
“Karen” refers to white women who feel privileged. See Wikipedia post here. Who came first with their respective racial stereotype, Amy Cooper or Christian Cooper? Does it even matter?
Ms. Cooper is now referred to as the “Central Park Karen” on Twitter and on the internet. Even CBS news used that phrase in a headline. See that news report here. But, if the situation was reversed, if someone tried to refer to her as the “Central Park Greaser,” that would never fly. Racial stereotypes applied to white persons remain racial stereotypes.
I forget who, but some wise person once remarked that we all bear some level of racism inside ourselves. We all have some sense of “other.” The smart ones, he noted, understand that and adjust their behavior accordingly. Racism is exceedingly difficult to prove in court. Let us all start from a position that stressful situations are what? Stressful. A white woman alone in the bushes is vulnerable, as is a black man anywhere in today’s time. A little more understanding and less finger-pointing would help us all.