This past week a world famous lion, that most in America had never heard of, named Cecil (http://news.yahoo.com/cecil-zimbabwes-majestic-lion-remembered-184249377.html?soc_src=copy) was hunted and killed by American dentist Walter Palmer, for the prepaid price of $50,000. (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/28/killer-of-cecil-the-lion-was-american-zimbabwe-officials-claim) Many in America had never heard of this lion before its killing but since it’s death international outrage and intense media coverage has erupted through social media sites as well as being covered, sometimes tearfully, on major news networks and other international outlets. My quandary is a simple one, where is this level of major coverage and concern for the murders of black lives at the hands of police in North America as well as internationally?
On July 19, 2015 police officer Ray Tensing shot and killed Samuel Dubose in the head, during what should have been a routine traffic stop. (http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/30/us/ohio-sam-dubose-tensing/) The body cam footage of said incident was deemed so horrific that officials in Cincinnati, a city which has a long history of racism and anti-blackness its self, (http://politicalblindspot.com/through-the-1950s-africans-and-native-americans-were-kept-in-zoos-as-exhibits/) (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/06/09/1391767/-Remember-when-racists-poured-acid-into-a-pool-to-get-black-people-out) feared that releasing it would incite a riot. Much to their surprise, or maybe disappointment, there was no riot, and as of July 30, 2015 Ray Tensing was released on a one million dollar bond.
On July 13, 2015 Sandra Bland, an outspoken black activist was found dead in her cell after three days prior being illegally arrested during a traffic stop. Initially Texas State Trooper Brian T. Encinia said that she was combative and assaulted him but when dash cam footage was released it showed that Ms Bland , never once, assaulted him. In fact the dash cam footage showed Texas State Trooper Brian T. Encinia initially issuing a citation, then when Ms Bland exerted her right as a free citizen of the United States of America to continue to smoke a cigarette that she paid for, in the car that she paid for, is when Texas State Trooper Brian T. Encinia became enraged and opened her car door, and threatened to “light her up” with a Tazer. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFXItgzLZQQ) Since her murder there has been controversy about everything including the actual stop footage itself, to the two separate autopsies performed on her. There was even talk about if she was dead in her mugshot photo, all of which, I believe, is a distraction (http://www.thelegendspanel.com/entertainment-blog/the-murder-not-the-mugshot-op-ed) to take the focus away from the fact that this black woman was murdered and it is now being covered up.
What does the murder of a lion in Africa have to do with the murder of Black people in America and worldwide? That is exactly my point here; they have nothing to do with each other. The murder of a lion in Africa and the murder of Black people in America and worldwide are far removed from each other but what concerns me, and should concern those that are reading this, is the difference in reaction to these separate incidents. What concerns me is what these separate reactions mean in regards to the unspoken value placed on black life in America and worldwide.
Tears were shed and memorial articles written on major news outlets (http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-cecil-zimbabwes-majestic-lion-remembered-2015-7) for this lion that most in America had never heard of before. The only tears that were shed for Ms Bland came from the Black community and from supporters of the black community. The media quickly brought to light any negative things they found about Ms Bland almost as to paint the picture that she was deserving of what happen to her, as if her expression and excitation of her rights granted her by the laws of this country should have been nullified and deserving of the retraction of her life. The media has done the same thing with Mr. Dubose. Various media outlets have brought up all of his previous encounters with law enforcement as if it was a for drawn conclusion and he was in some way deserving of his execution. What is interesting is that those same media outlets did not do any due diligence and dig up Ray Tensing previous police record (http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2015/07/28/know-officer-tensing/30810035/) nor did they dig up Texas State Trooper Brian T. Encinia record. (http://newsone.com/3157451/brian-encinia-texas-trooper-who-arrested-sandra-bland/)
All of this leads to the question,
“Does black life matter to anyone other than black people?”
Would it take the unjust murder of a famous black person before the level of outcry and outrage over the unjust murder of an average black person in America and Worldwide to be seen as the extremely serious issue it is? Would Oprah have to be executed on sight like Tamir Rice was? Would it take a Beyonce to be unlawfully man handled by police as was the teenager girl in the biki was in McKinney before talk show hosts became choked up? Would it take the senseless loss of a life such as Tyler Perry’s three days after a routine traffic stop, such as what happen to Ms Bland, before those outside the black community, and some within the black community, begin to ask, Do Black people in America need a protected status before the level of concern and outrage over the ongoing and consistent murder of black people to be recognized as the horrific tragedy that it is? Or, are we left to conclude
“Black life does not matter to anyone other than black people?”
by Christopher F. Brown
for more writings by Christopher F. Brown check out (https://a1abwriter.wordpress.com/)