Social media was on fire today with news about an American lady, Amy Cooper, who was reported to be terminated “effective immediately” from her job at investment firm Franklin Templeton, following a barrage of criticism over her alleged racist behaviour caught in a viral video posted online. In the video, Cooper can be seen calling the police on a black man, Christian Cooper, who asked her nicely to leash her dog in Central Park, New York.
For context, the park area in which Amy Cooper was in requires dogs to be leashed at all times and Christian Cooper was just giving her a friendly reminder on the law. Instead of complying, she chose to react in a racist manner by calling the cops and saying that “an African-American man” was “threatening my life”. This was white privilege at its finest. She should know that by making an exaggerated claim like this, she could have gotten Christian Cooper into serious trouble, endangering his life.
You can watch the video here:
As a consequence of her actions, Cooper not only lost her high-paying white-collar job, but also had her pet dog taken away from her by the animal shelter from which she adopted it from.
The incident with Amy Cooper brings to mind another American lady in Singapore: Megan K. Stack.
Stack is an American author and journalist currently living in Singapore with her family. She recently published a column for the magazine section of The New York Times, titled A Sudden Coronavirus Surge Brought Out Singapore’s Dark Side.
While not commenting on Stack’s criticism on Singapore’s socio-political issues as well as our government’s response to the Covid-19 global pandemic, we take issue with a portion of Stack’s narrative of her experience in Singapore which bears some similarity with the Amy Cooper incident.
In Stack’s own words:
“Having got ahead of the others during the run, I waited at the door to our courtyard. I dug out my phone and scrolled through messages while I caught my breath, until I had the feeling of being watched. I glanced up and started: A woman was using her phone to take my picture. I’ve been surveilled in Russia, China and the Middle East, but in this context — among the flower gardens of our home, on an outing with my children, at the hands of a neighbor — it filled me with rage. I raised my phone and conspicuously took her photograph in return. She didn’t like that.
“Why aren’t you wearing a mask?” she yelled.
I looked down at myself — workout clothes plastered to my body with sweat — and yelled back, incredulously, “I’ve been jogging!”
“You’re not jogging now!”
I began to argue with her. I told her she was harassing me. She continued to yell about masks. But even as we bickered, an ugly foreboding filled my gut. My clothes were soaked with sweat, but could I actually prove I’d been running? When she turned heel and stalked away, I followed her. “I have your picture!” I informed the tilted dome of her retreating parasol. “Do what you want,” came the muffled reply.
I watched her disappear around the bend in the path. I’ve been here long enough to know that Singapore would take her side, and that my obvious foreignness would only make it worse, rendering me a reckless outsider who had failed to show due deference to the system.”
Does anyone recognise what is wrong?
The Circuit Breaker measures in Singapore exempts joggers or those engaging in vigorous exercises from wearing a mask when outdoors, but it also states that you need to put on a mask once you are done with exercise. Stack’s husband was aware of this, it seems, and had reminded Stack to bring a mask along when she went out for her jog. She chose to brush it off and break the law. Not only that, she argued with her neighbour who tried to police her. Stack shamed her in that New York Times article, making it seem like she is the one being victimised.
The irony of it?
Stack shared a seemingly sarcastic tweet to take a dig at Amy Cooper’s apology where she referred to Christian Cooper as “that man”:
What about the hurt that Stack inflicted on Singaporeans as a whole when she made this sweeping statement about our whole nation to sum up her essay: “I’ve been here long enough to know that Singapore would take her side, and that my obvious foreignness would only make it worse, rendering me a reckless outsider who had failed to show due deference to the system”.
Right. We are all nameless bullies who like to terrorise privileged expats like Stack for not conforming to our country’s law and order.
Amy Cooper vs Megan Stack?
You draw your own conclusion.