It boggles the mind that some people think that you can’t be concerned with more than one cause at time. If you tweet #freethebees someone will inevitably hyperventilate and stammer “How can you be concerned about bees when MILLIPEDES are almost extinct, do you know how important they are to our ecosystem?”
So I’m prefacing this post by reiterating that I understand that one is capable of caring about human lives and animal lives at the same time. I am after all, a vegetarian.
You’ve all heard the news about Harambe the Gorilla. Tragically, he was shot at a zoo after an incident in which a 4 year old managed to climb into the gorilla enclosure. I understand the sympathy extended that an animal, which for all intents and purposes, was minding it’s own business and happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, was shot. Cool. Have your 1 minute of silence before you eat you factory farmed beef burger. (Did you feel the shade? It was intentional)
What I don’t understand (or maybe I do understand, but don’t want to) is this disproportionate mourning that certain people *cough* will participate in for wild animals in comparison to:
- The animals they kill every day for food kept in horrific conditions.
- Black and brown people everywhere.
Many were calling for police to investigate the mother and bring charges for the death of the gorilla. Unbelievably, they’ve been successful and the police are now investigating the mum. Never mind the fact that anyone who has looked after a 4 year old should be able to understand that they can skedaddle in the twinkling of an eye. Never mind the fact that zoos should probably have enclosures that are pretty much childproof. Unless this boy was secretly an international athlete, he just shouldn’t have been able to get into a gorilla enclosure.
I wish police officers who killed unarmed black people were investigated that quickly. Isn’t it interesting that many of these same people who are so riled by live video footage of a gorilla being shot, weren’t equally as riled by live video footage of Walter Scott being shot in the back? Wouldn’t it be nice if it could garner the same level of international outrage? The only conclusion I can gather from reactions to Harambe the Gorilla and Cecil the Lion (the other animal that made headlines last year), is that for many of these people gorillas lives are more important than black ones. Especially when people are more intent on crying about a gorilla than being thankful that a little boy (who coincidentally happens to be black) was saved from what could have been a horrific death at the hands of an potentially extremely violent animal.
In fact, don’t underestimate the fact that this child was black and that his mother was black in this outrage. Black mothers face tremendous stigma. Black boys are seen as societal deviants and by extension their mothers are tarred with the brush of irresponsibility, regardless of the facts of the situation. Many of you might feel that I’m clutching at straws here, but I honestly believe that the reaction to this would have been slightly different if a blonde hair blue eyed little girl had been trapped in the enclosure and if the mother had been white.
I’m not stating that every person who is concerned about the gorilla is consciously racist.I’m not stating that you shouldn’t care about gorillas, bees or millipedes. I’m not even questioning the hierarchy of concern because I was already aware of the hierarchy. I’m just giving us a short reminder, once again, perhaps like a broken record, of how selective society can be is with it’s empathy. And that we should remember this. And that we should question in our own lives what moves us to mourning.
(We could also have a discussion about zoos and why they’re kind of questionable…but that’s another post)