Reactions different in Cincinnati and Orlando incidents
Once again the world was thrown into a mental tailspin via the media. At the head of it all were toddlers, yes, toddlers at the age where they are still trying to figure out who and what is all around them.
A tragic incident recently unfolded at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. A 2-years-old was reportedly at the edge of a lagoon when he was snatched and dragged into the water by an alligator.
Let me just hold it there for a moment.
Roll backwards to last month when a young boy fell into the gorilla pit at the Cincinnati Zoo, a situation that resulted in the Zoo using lethal force on Harambe, the gorilla. In order to save the boy’s life, many with lightning rapidity were quick to call the mother negligent and unfit to be a parent.
The majority of these vicious attacks on the mother (and father, who incidentally was not at the zoo at the time of the incident) came immediately and with unabated venom and unrelenting invectives once the news broke, and without further details on the incident. She was hung out to dry by social media over what was perceived as her failure to block her son from breaching a three-foot fence. He then fell about 15 feet into a shallow moat, only to be then dragged around like a rag doll by Harambe, a western lowland gorilla weighing more than 420 pounds.
Before I become entrapped in the maelstrom of emotions, permit me to offer my condolences to the Graves family on the loss of their offspring.
My question to those who probably have a more sagacious grasp on public thinking is what underlies the striking difference in response to these two tragedies that involved parents, toddlers and animals at known family-friendly venues. The family, whose son met his fate by an alligator at the Disney resort in Orlando, received an outpouring of online and public sympathy.
Where are the outrage and the screaming and hollering over the mother and her parenting skills? Where are the animal lovers?
What is of interest is the fact that one gorilla got shot to save the boy in the zoo. Yes, the world was upset with the mother for letting the toddler out of her sight. And now, with the boy in Florida, 4 Disney area alligators were killed without any positivity as to which of them dragged the toddler to his death, and the mother has not been investigated. In fact, the world grieves for this mother. Where are the animal lovers?
This behavior runs in stark contrast to some who suggested that the parents should be held criminally responsible; in addition to an online petition seeking “Justice for Harambee” earned more than 100,000 signatures in less than 48 hours.
Does racism have any part to play in these tragic situations? Was the ancient stereotype that Black parents are lazy, uncaring, chronic complainers fuelled by the fact that the boy’s parents were Black?
The fact that the father wasn’t even at the zoo was by inference more damning proof of parental negligence. There have been several incidents cited in America and even in Britain involving white kids being in dangerous contact with endangered animals, such as the one involving a kid in a gorilla enclosure at a Chicago zoo in 1996. There were no mass calls for the parents to face criminal charges or to have the other kids removed from their care. Let it not be forgotten or overlooked that Disney had posted signs marked No Swimming, yet this was ignored by the parents.
Now we have two similar tragedies, two disturbingly different responses from the public and markedly different coverage. Do not ask why, when the answer is so blatantly evident.
Not for one moment do I buy into the premise that this is a case of alligators and gorillas or of good parents with poor parenting skills.
Sadly, tragedies such as these further serve to validate the racializing of Blacks, often about absent Black fathers, and fathers missing in action, as has been evident by display and discussion of the Black father’s lengthy rap sheet on programs such as Nancy Grace & Friends. One may ask of what relevance to the issue at hand is the father’s criminal record? None!
These two incidents, the actions of alligators and gorillas merely highlighted the presence of racism as it continues to exist among us.
Currently, we live in a society where race and racism, like politics, religion and money, are impolite topics better left unexplored.
We are simply uncomfortable talking about race. Such a fact is not without a price due to the discomfort and the absence of learned skills necessary to engage in deep discussions on the topic; we avoid them like the plague.
There are some pills, bitter though they may be, that must be swallowed, and some facts, though difficult to take, must be faced.
America does not have a race problem but a mere race system where the odds are stacked heavily against certain players who must realize who and what they are up against.
In Biblical times a donkey spoke to Balaam; in this case Harambe and four alligators have spoken via the actions of toddlers. Who will heed?
Remember, actions speak louder than words, but there are no magical ones to make racism go away.