I’m very disturbed by the news regarding Cecil the Lion. Not so much because an overprivileged white guy paid a huge sum of money to decorate his home with a protected animal’s head (don’t get me wrong, I am super pissed about this too), but because of the level of outrage shown for Cecil versus any number of outrages perpetuated against people of color in the United States.
When I first heard this story I was astonished by what a dick the guy is. I mean, he already had a felony for illegally killing a black bear. He also settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by an employee out of court for over $100,000. Of course he claims he’s innocent and just wanted the matter to go away quickly. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of money to make something go away quickly. How much do dentists make anyway???
I was also amused by all the angry Yelp reviews for his dental practice. (By the way, Yelp seems a little slow in taking those reviews down, most of them are obviously not customers of his.) I saw news stories with pictures of angry, mainly white, protesters with signs calling him a killer and a coward. And these folks looked REALLY REALLY angry.
But then I was listening to a discussion of this story on NPR and someone pointed out that they’d never seen so many white people worked up about the death of an African before. OUCH! I thought. That truth shit stings. And of course I started repeating this line to people as if I had thought it up myself.
Then I saw this:
I love Roxane Gay and all I could think was HELL YEAH!
Because I’m a masochist, I started reading the responses to her comment and was shocked at how incredibly upset (and defensive) people were about the remark.
“What a selfish twit Roxanne is.”
“Grow the eff up.”
“Why does this have to be a competition?”
“ Lions are endangered animals.”
“this lady is dumb & does not realize how hot it is going to be wearing a costume in this heat.”
“This is preposterous… !!!”
“That’s not fair!”
That’s right, somebody actually cried ‘Not fair!’
Now, let’s be clear. It’s okay to be upset about Cecil. Many people are upset about Cecil AND African Americans being killed by the police. But the comparative outrage is absolutely astonishing and this is what Roxane Gay was pointing out. She was being really funny about it but I’m going to say it like it is: White liberals get more upset over animals getting killed than they do about black people being murdered by the police. Then they get more angry if you point this out. I am saying this as a white liberal: We kinda suck.
I’ve heard this said for years but I was definitely in denial. Now I see it. And I’m sorry. But apologies don’t matter, what matters is how we change our future behavior and I don’t have an answer for that yet.