You’re Grown & Free to Choose Your Battles – But it Better Not Be ‘Cecil the Lion!’

Cecil's roar
This IS Cecil

*Activists and animal lovers alike seem to have pissed some folks off. Royally. These infuriated people hiss, “how dare you petition, grieve, cry and rally around the killing of a damn lion; while bigger, more important issues such as black folk being blatantly disrespected by racist cops and the American judicial system barely causes you to blink.”

And for those of you who may mistake that for a question.


It’s a bold ass, indignant, statement!

In case you’ve been living under a very large rock since late July, you know that ‘Cecil’ a 13-year-old lion that was regarded as the most popular tourist attraction in the Hwange National Park in Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe was strategically lured from that park; and shot with a bow and arrow by American dentist, Walter Palmer, who had paid the USD equivalent of $55,000 for the “privilege’.

The wounded animal was later located, slaughtered, beheaded and skinned.

The dentist, who has since closed his Minnesota practice and gone into hiding, has received death threats on his life.

But instead of the giant feline’s death being just another terrible story on the news, it became a movement; sending shock waves throughout social media and causing animal activists and animal lovers to take to the streets with signs advocating their rage against its killing.

Cecil’s death even moved an audience that has been silent on the more pressing issue of racial injustice in America. People with the power to effect change.

The Senate.

After the lion’s death, senators placed a new proposal on the table: an Amendment to the current “Endangered Species Act.”

True, and shameful, that no such act or action has been taken to acknowledge what is happening to black people in America today. The senate hasn’t stepped in to insist on any Amendments to the Constitution; or even local laws that were put in place to protect people.

But then again, did you really expect them to?

Can we ever force people to be as passionate about our cause(s) as we are?

That’s a rhetorical question.

And the actions surrounding Cecil’s death is not the first time we have witnessed the flawed and misplaced values of the American public. And it won’t be the last.

So back to the anger and disgust of those who hate the attention that Cecil’s death is getting. Chill. People have a right to fight whatever battle their heart dictates.

And as is the case with hype, people build things up only to tear them down. So now, the love this dead animal has garnered is followed by all the reasons we should hate him.

Posts on Facebook show photos of any big lion– doing what lions do — and calling it ‘Cecil’ with the caption: “Did You Know that Cecil Did This?” Or anything to that effect.

Add to that the media colleague who finds herself so personally incensed by the fact that not everyone is of the same mind as her and is bewildered that someone on Facebook (Hey, maybe it was me!) had the nerve to say stop hating on Cecil because there is enough sorrow to go around.

I guess my confusion comes from this: When have we had the luxury of focusing, collectively, as a world on ONE terrible reality?

So now comes an article straight from a Zimbabwean himself; something that further discourages attention being given to the dead animal. Perhaps this will be the determining factor. The nail in the coffin that will steer people away from the dead animal; with the assumption that they will then focus solely on our black plight.

A doctorate student named Goodwell Nzou admits he is “confused” at the overwhelming support and behavior of Americans with regard to Cecil’s death because, “In Zimbabwe, We Don’t Cry for Lions.”

I certainly hear you, but if I’m being totally honest sir, my first thought is:

Well, in Zimbabwe, y’all don’t do a lot of things Americans do. 

This is not a contest, nor a challenge. It’s not even a debate. It’s just a fact. The African people have a totally different sensibility when it comes to wild animals. While they are still no doubt recognized as dangerous, some have grown accustomed to them and their presence. As a world traveler, I have seen the difference in how the animals are handled in Africa…by regular people

But we don’t try this at home. In America, while there are those more adventurous types who maintain reptiles and other wild animals under the radar, we generally only see these animals in the safety of a zoo, or on film. So is it any surprise the view is from a romanticized perspective?

Look, bottom line, I too wish the value system of the general public was different. But I can only dictate my own value system. One that chooses life over death. People over animals…well, some at least. Good over bad.

Still, I am heartbroken that an animal was so callously killed. No, not to the point that I paraded in the streets with a sign. But yes, I probably signed a petition or two in support of stricter laws.

And no one should have to apologize for feeling this way.

Recently, the Zimbabwe National Task Force announced on their Facebook page they will build a statue on Cecil’s behalf.

The news about Cecil has died down a bit now, but it will no doubt be replaced by something else. And that something else may not be…will most likely NOT be: the problem with race in America.

That problem was here before Cecil; and as we can see, it’s here after him.

We will never be able to force people to be as passionate about our cause(s) as black people, as we are.

So do yourself a favor and get over it. YOU do something.

There IS enough sorrow to go around.

–This article was written by DeBorah B. Pryor


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