We are told we can be anything we want to be when we are children.
My brother clearly believed that when he was a little boy.
Of all things, he told our mom he wanted to be a fire truck equipped with sirens, tires and a ladder — the whole shebang.
>> AMELIA ROBINSON: Sorry, kid. This year has been rough, but you’ll learn from it
I am 4 1/2 years younger than my brother, so I don’t remember his preschool declaration.
I know the story the way people know the stories about people they love.
Miles away, Christian Cooper fell in love with birds when he was 10, at least six years older than my brother was when he fell in love with fire trucks, according to the New York Times.
Christian love of birds lasted while my brother’s attention shifted away from fire trucks.
Mr. Cooper, the son of school teachers from Long Island, went from making bird feeders in woodworking class to earning a political science degree from Harvard to creating the first gay characters in the “Star Trek” comic universe during his time as editor at Marvel Comics.
All the while, he was still into birds.
Due to his recent run-in with a woman named Amy Cooper (no relation), none of those accomplishments are what the 57-year-old member of the New York City Audubon Society board is best known for nationally.
The unrelated Coopers got into a verbal exchange when Mr. Cooper, who is black, asked Ms. Cooper, who is white, to put her Cocker Spaniel on a leash in an area of New York’s Central Park popular for bird watching.
There are posted signs that say dogs must be leashed in that area.
Mr. Cooper took out his phone and started recording during the exchange and Ms. Cooper told him to stop.
She then told him she’d call the police and tell him that she and the dog she would soon jerk around to control were being threatened by an African-American.
If you’ve missed the now-viral video posted to Mr. Cooper’s Facebook page and his sister’s Twitter account, I will explain why it led to Amy Cooper losing her job and surrender her dog.
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She used African-American the way one would sound the alarm about a vicious dog or a shark in the water.
As she wrestled with the dog, the venom that has caused black men and boys to be lynched literally and figuratively for hundreds of years seeped from her lips.
Her words dissolved Mr. Cooper, Harvard graduate, brother, son and avid bird fan.
None of the hopes his parents put into him or the dreams he achieved for himself mattered.
She painted a picture of a beast that haunts dreams, an object to be feared as it defiles decency.
The Mr. Cooper she created needed to be eliminated.
Luckily, that didn’t happen to the real Mr. Cooper, and he went on to bird watch again.
The encounter between the Coopers did not end or just sit in his mind thanks to social media.
>> AMELIA ROBINSON: Bruised, bloody, but unbroken. We survived.
Hopefully, it will cause people to think and change their mindsets.
We are told we can be anything we want to be in this world, but too often black and brown people can’t even be human.
Prejudices about skin color and/or ethnicity drown out the things that make a person a person.
In some minds, it is easier to imagine a black boy being a fire truck than a black man being a human who likes to watch birds.
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