Written by Paul Marsh
Before Amy Cooper became a household name, I dated someone similar to her. While watching the video recorded by Christian Cooper, a black man, I was instantaneously transported back to my own memories that resembled his experience. The ordeal made me think of two movies, one of them a popular animation film from 2007 called Ratatouille. I felt like Anton Ego when he ate the dish of the same name to review it and was brought back to some of the most cherished memories from his childhood, memories that were chalk-full of positivity. Sadly, for me, my memories weren’t as positive. I felt my blood boiling and anger rising to heights I’m not accustomed to while watching the clip. It took me a second to figure out why, but when I did, I know it was because I’d dated someone who, like Ms. Cooper, took advantage of her white skin privilege at my expense.
Her name is Evangeline. To protect her privacy, her last name won’t be mentioned. However, it should be noted that, looking back, I wonder how someone with such a beautiful first name could be full of as much animosity toward minorities as she was. When we first met, things were blissful. We bonded over our love of Future’s latest rap album out at the time – Evol. I even did a little coordinated dance to the album’s most popular song, “Low Life,” that made her laugh. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, things started to take a turn for the worst.
When around me, I was a perfect boyfriend, one whose issues weren’t a big enough deal to be deal-breakers. When around others, particularly her Caucasian friends and relatives, I was the catalyst for all the problems in our relationship. She slandered my name, consistently fabricating character flaws because she was envious of my personal prowess in all my endeavors – academic, personal, and professional. She’d never seen an ethnic minority accomplish the things I was accomplishing.
The final straw for me came when I learned a pet name she frequently used, Monkey, was a veiled racist remark. She told me it was a nickname she’d used to refer to her closest friend, that it was a term of endearment. Months down the road, when asked about it, her best friend vehemently denied this. I always found this pet name odd, but now I knew something more nefarious was going on. I can give countless examples of our relationship woes, but my hope is the basic gist has been adequately communicated.
The hardest part of our time together was looking back and realizing she was only with me because being a bit of a wunderkind and black was an anomaly in the South. I was a rare catch. “I always dreamt about it, but I never thought I’d get someone tall, dark, AND handsome” she’d say to me. I used to look at that statement as a compliment. Then she showed me, like all too often happens, that she eagerly participated in and enjoyed the fun aspects of black culture, but was nowhere to be found during the moments of struggle. I was valued for what I could provide as a minority, not for who I am. She loved things about me because of my culture, not because of me.
The other movie that came to mind after watching the clip and reflecting some was Get Out. That landmark film, combined with the Amy Cooper video and my own past relationship experiences, taught me a very valuable, yet harrowing lesson – BLAXPLOITATION IS REAL. The current state of affairs in America is even further proof of that. I’m grateful I’m no longer in that relationship. Evangeline proved that looks can be, and often are, deceiving, and that not every racist is overt with their hatred. If interracial relationships interest you as much as they do me, be mindful about who you call your significant other. You may end up needing to get out too.