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Birding while black in NYC Central Park

May 30, 2020

Photo by David George Haskell
From Forbes article by GrrlScientist (see below)

You’ve probably read about this elsewhere. An Audubon member, Christian Cooper, a man who is black, is birding in New York City’s Central Park Ramble, an area beloved by local birders and where any dog must – by law – be on leash. He encounters a woman who is white with her dog who is not on leash. Problems ensue, to put it mildly.

You don’t to be a member of FaceBook or Twitter to view the next three items items.

The text of conversation preceding video.

The Cooper Central Park video.

May 28 interview with Christian & Melody Cooper on The View.

Following are three discussions of this event you probably haven’t seen. All three stories deserve to be read through to their ends. LZ Granderson’s is – for white birders (for whites in general, really) – merely a harrowing read; for him, it’s his life.   [Chuck Almdale]

“How Am I Going to Be Perceived as a Black Man With Binoculars?”: J. Drew Lanham on Christian Cooper and Rules for the Black Birdwatcher
Vanity Fair. By Dan Adler, May 27, 2020
The ecologist and writer discusses the viral Central Park video, and how the hobby is only an escape for some.

In 2013, the writer, ecologist, and birder J. Drew Lanham published his “9 Rules for the Black Birdwatcher” in Orion magazine. “You’ll need the binoculars to pick that tufted duck out of the flock of scaup and ring-necks,” he wrote. “You’ll need the photo ID to convince the cops, FBI, Homeland Security, and the flashlight-toting security guard that you’re not a terrorist or escaped convict.”

Not Everyone Experiences The Joys Of Birding Like Me—A White Woman
Forbes. May 27, 2020
GrrlScientist: Senior Contributor. Evolutionary & behavioural ecologist, ornithologist & science writer

Birding is a wonderful way to get out into nature, to get some exercise and to experience wild birds, but there is a very good reason that few African-Americans engage in this activity. As a former resident of New York City, I birded Central Park for many years. The Ramble was always a highlight; peaceful, serene and often filled with amazing birds if one just sat still long enough to allow them to come to you or to sing.

George Floyd, Central Park, and the familiar terror they inspire
Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2020
LZ Granderson, Columnist

I didn’t feel well Tuesday. My body was tense, my stomach unsettled, the headache I was trying to push past kept pushing back. On most days I choose to be numb. Tuesday, I decided to feel. I recognize for some the video of George Floyd’s fatal encounter with four Minneapolis police officers is shocking. For me, it was not. I may not always choose to feel, but I am always aware. I learned early on that I didn’t have the luxury of not being aware.

One Comment
  1. Anthony Maddela permalink
    May 30, 2020 1:14 pm

    SMBA members might recall Christian Cooper is the young man in Birders: The Central Park Effect documentary. He shared his seven reasons why birding is cool.



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