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The Risk Of Being A Black Man In America

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By Myron B. Pitts

Two incidents that made national news this past week showed the risk faced by African-American men, purely on account of race. They were unrelated. But for me, seeing them unfold side-by-side made them in some ways connected.

In the first, a viral video showed a white woman call the police on a black man who had been trying to get her to follow posted rules to leash her dog in Central Park in New York, early on Memorial Day. The man, Christian Cooper, a birdwatcher and science magazine editor, filmed the interaction. Amy Cooper, who is unrelated and who works at an investment firm, told him to stop recording or she would call the police and tell them “there’s an African American man threatening my life.”

Amy Cooper, if she had truly felt threatened, could easily have walked away but instead approached Christian Cooper, who told her twice, “Please don’t come close to me.”

She wound up calling the police — at one point raising her voice to a more frantic level, and emphasizing an “African-American man” was threatening herself and her dog.

Both parties left before police responded. But social media rendered swift judgment against Amy Cooper on grounds she was using race as a weapon when she filed her false report, to, at minimum, get Christian Cooper in trouble, or even get him potentially hurt or killed. Her investment firm fired her, saying it had zero tolerance for racism.

Myron B. Pitts is an Opinion Editor at The Fayetteville Observer.  Click here to follow Myron B. Pitts on Twitter.

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