What if Sam Dubose had been a beloved lion? What if the world reacted to Sam Dubose being killed by police officer Ray Tensing the way it reacted to Cecil the Lion being killed by Walter Palmer?
One way to tell is to change up the Wikipedia article for Cecil:
Dubose’s death created an outrage among civil rights activists, prompted responses from politicians and many other people. A number of celebrities publicly condemned Dubose’s killing. Tensing received a flood of hate messages.
The death of Dubose sparked a discussion among civil rights organisations about a proposal for bills on police brutality as well as discussions about use of lethal force by police. Global media and social media reaction has resulted in close to 900,000 people signing online petition “Justice for Dubose”, which calls on the U.S. government to stop police brutality.
The National Rifle Association responded by suspending Ray Tensing’s membership, stating that “those who intentionally take human life illegally should be prosecuted and punished to the maximum extent allowed by law.” Late-night talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel helped raise $150,000 in donations in less than 24 hours to Black United Front, which has been fighting police brutality in Cincinnati. People for the Ethical Treatment of African Americans issued a statement that Tensing should, preferably, be hanged.
Some high-level government officials publicly condemned the killing of Dubose. David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom told reporters that the United Kingdom plays “a leading role in preventing police brutality,” when he was asked about Dubose’s death. His Americas Minister, Grant Shapps, described the incident as “barbaric”.
U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum, co-chair of the United States Congressional Civil Rights Caucus, called for an investigation of Tensing and the killing.
On 30 July 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution to strengthen the efforts to address police brutality. Germany and Costa Rica were the sponsors of the resolution. Harald Braun, Germany’s U.N. Ambassador, linked the resolution to the killing and said: “Like most people in the world we are outraged at what happened to this poor man.” Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister Emmanuel Gondet said of Dubose’s killing as “a matter of deep concern for all countries in the Americas”.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, Ray Tensing had no trouble raising the $100,000 bail he needed to get out of jail.
As far as I know, no one blamed Cecil for his death. No one talked about lion-on-lion killings. No true animal lover tried to downplay the whole thing with #AllAnimalLivesMatter.
Why the difference?
- Human life, unlike that of lions, is assumed to be well protected by law. Yet Black lives in the US clearly are not.
- Black people are dehumanized, arguably below the level of whales, dogs – and lions – to the level of monkeys.
- Few White Americans feel complicit in the killing of Cecil. They can openly condemn it without fearing that a light will be cast on the ugly mountain of injustice that their own lives are built on.
– Abagond, 2015.
- Wikipedia: Cecil (lion)
- Sam Dubose
- The perfect victim
- The Black-on-Black crime argument
- The dehumanization of Black people:
- What if police brutality was seen as a crime?