- Christian Cooper was birding in New York’s Central Park when an interaction with a white woman ended with her threatening to call the police.
- A viral video of the incident brought attention to the racism black birders face when outdoors in public.
- A group of black birders is hosting an awareness campaign through social media during the first week of June.
Christian Cooper is a graduate of Harvard and a past president of its campus ornithological club. He is a senior biomedical editor at Health Science Communications. He previously worked as an editor at Marvel Comics. In 2019 he was featured in the premier episode of Jason Ward’s Birds of North America, and in 2012 was among the Central Park birders who were interviewed for the documentary film Birders: The Central Park Effect.
“What was clear in her words and how she used them was that she didn’t actually feel physically threatened ― rather, she was wielding her privilege as a white woman with the knowledge that accusing a Black man of violence was a weapon against him,”Zeba Blay, a senior culture writer for the Huffington Post.
“Just four days after the encounter between a white dog walker and African American birdwatcher Christian Cooper, a group of approximately 30 Black scientists, birders, and outdoor explorers have created a new awareness campaign to encourage birding among more people of color.
- Leaders of the initiative include Anna Opoku-Agyeman, an economist and co-founder and CEO of the Sadie Collective; Jason Ward of the “Birds of North America” YouTube series; his brother Jeffrey Ward, a science communicator; Corina Newsome, a graduate student at Georgia Southern University studying the Seaside Sparrow; Tykee James, host of the podcast OnWord4Wildlife; and herpetologist Earyn McGee, a PhD candidate at the University of Arizona. You can find the full list of organizers at this Twitter link.”
Corina Newsome co-founder of Black Birders Week is on Twitter @hood_naturalist