Christian Cooper, a Black birder who recorded a video of a white woman falsely accusing him of threatening her life in Central Park last year, has turned his passion for birds into a memoir and a TV show.
Mr. Cooper’s memoir, titled “Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World”, chronicles his life and his love for birds, and how it connects him to nature and himself. He also reflects on his encounter with Amy Cooper (no relation), who called 911 on him after he asked her to leash her dog in a wooded area of the park known as the Ramble on May 25, 2020.
The video of their confrontation went viral and sparked a national conversation about racism and birding. Amy Cooper was fired by an investment firm, sued for wrongful dismissal, and charged with a misdemeanor for making a false report. The charge was later dropped after she completed a program on racial bias.
Mr. Cooper said he recorded the video because he refused to be complicit in his own dehumanization. “I thought to myself, you know what? They’re going to shoot us dead no matter what we do. And if that’s the case, I’m going out with my dignity intact,” he said.
He also said he declined to cooperate in Amy Cooper’s prosecution because he wanted to focus on the bigger issues of police brutality and violence against Black people. “It’s not just about that one incident in Central Park. It’s about all these incidents that keep happening that are part of this systemic bias that we have in this society against people of color,” he said.
Mr. Cooper is also the host of a TV show on Nat Geo Wild called “Extraordinary Birder with Christian Cooper”, which premieres in spring of 2023. In the show, he travels across the U.S. to explore different bird habitats and learn about their extraordinary features and behaviors.
He said he loves spreading the gospel of birding, which he started at age 10. He is also a writer, editor, and former Marvel Comics editor who has written comics featuring Black characters such as Star Trek’s Uhura and Marvel’s Deathlok.
“Birding has exploded in popularity recently, and I’m looking forward to putting a spotlight on these amazing creatures and the extraordinary birders who love them and work to protect them!” he wrote on Facebook.
Mr. Cooper said he hopes his memoir and TV show will inspire more people to appreciate birds and nature, and to challenge the stereotypes and barriers that Black birders face. He said birding is a way of finding joy and peace in a troubled world.
“It’s a way of connecting with something bigger than yourself,” he said.
– Central Park birder Christian Cooper is turning his viral video fame into a memoir and TV show, Associated Press, 6/16/2023
– NY bird-watcher Christian Cooper gets National Geographic TV show – NPR, NPR, 5/19/2022
– Christian Cooper, the Central Park birdwatcher, will host a show on National Geographic | CNN, CNN, 5/24/2022
– Christian Cooper to host birdwatching show on National Geographic – The Washington Post, The Washington Post, 5/23/2022