Dr. E. Faye Williams
TriceEdney – We cannot deny that the United States is an animal loving country. Through the miracle of commercial television, almost any time, one can witness the deplorable conditions under which many animals are maintained. The television commercials that portray this misery are often accompanied by a melancholy musical score that, when combined with the innocent and pitiful stares of the mistreated animals, tears at the human heart and pulls at every ounce of compassion in the soul of the viewer.
Celebrities from every genre lend their support for more enlightened treatment of animals. Many well-known actors and actresses have posed in ads that deplore the use of animal fur. Many other celebrities who are well-known vegans will even protest the raising of animals for human consumption. There’s no doubt that organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have established their niche in the national consciousness.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit that I grew up in the south where hunting is a way of life. It is an integral part of the regional lifestyle and many still depend upon hunting to prevent hunger. It’s not uncommon for many families to supplement their diets with game harvested from the woods and waters. With that, it may surprise you to learn that I was thoroughly upset to learn of the assassination of Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion.
I must also admit that I’m not a vegan, but I do eat fish or fowl. I don’t have any four-legged house guests (pets); yet, I abhor any mistreatment of animals or, for that matter, human beings! Although not quite as committed as Saint Francis of Assisi, and others who rigidly embrace his philosophy, I respect the sanctity of all life.
Considering the facts as initially reported I can only qualify the demise of Cecil as a murder. All who protest in righteous outrage and indignation are justified. Although justified, I wonder whether comparable outrage exists about the murder of Samuel Dubose or the death of Sandra Bland. If it does exist, have the media and the late night talk show hosts demonstrated similar disgust as they did for Cecil?
Until the Cincinnati prosecutor, Joseph Deters, held a press conference announcing an indictment of murder against University of Cincinnati Police Officer (Ray Tensing), information about the Dubose murder seemed to fly under the radar of public awareness. We’ve now learned that the traffic stop that precipitated the murder of Mr. Dubose was based on a missing front license plate!
Inquiry into the death of Ms. Bland seems to generate more questions than it clears up. There’s a great deal that we don’t know about her death, but we can speculate, with a fair degree of certainty, that if she had not been stopped by an aggressive police officer for a petty infraction, she would be alive today.
Although the Black community and those who’re sensitive to and aware of the daily injustice experienced by our community have raised a ruckus about Dubose and Bland, the outrage concerning Cecil seems to grasp a larger portion of the general population.
There lies the problem. Until the greater population can attach more significance to the death of a Black male or female than it does to the death or mistreatment of an animal, race relations in this country will continue to be as distorted as it has been for almost four hundred years. We can’t fix the problem until we face it!
It is unfortunate that Cecil was a victim of unscrupulous hunters, but the greater tragedy lies in the senseless deaths of Black men and women. Why do Black lives seem to matter less than Cecil’s?
Dr. E. Faye Williams can be reached at: www.nationalcongressbw.org. 202/678-6788