Remember last year when everyone freaked out about Cecil the Lion being murdered? The lion's death was in the middle of rising tensions over Black Lives Matter, state sanctioned murder, and Freddie Grey's murder. My timeline filled up with folks asking why there was more outrage over a lion's death than the death of another Black man whose name would be added to a hashtag fraternity of the murdered. The phases looked a bit like this:
- Minority voices were drowned out by the outcry for Cecil the Lion
- Minorities and allies clapped back and asked why lion lives matter more
- Lion life proponents responded with "don't tell us who/what to be upset about"
- Other folks responded saying you can hold both in tension
- Lions are innocent and "those people" all did "something" to warrant the situations
There was more nuance, of course, but most responses fell under the 5 reactions. What I am wondering almost year after Cecil the Lion's death is this:
How did your public outrage transform into change and action?
We've all got platforms, right? If you wanted to add your outrage to clang and clatter on social media, drowning out some really important discussions, help me understand why? Was it a break from the discomfort of witnesses the tension over Black America? Did you need social points for being outraged? Did group think influence your decision to "speak out" on behalf of the lion? Hear me when I say this:
Your outrage only serves YOU if it isn't tempered with action.
Are you still activated and doing mad lion life-saving activities? Have you invested in wildlife refuges? Have you met with legislators seeking changes in animal welfare?
The same applies to your outrage about the death of Black people and people of color. We cannot pay our bills on your outrage. Your outrage will not save us when we are pulled over by the police. Your outrage will not buffer me from job discrimination.
So next time you find yourself whipped into a frenzy and ready to air your outrage, how about you channel all that emotion into actually taking steps to impact change and not just your ego. Your impulse to express outrage more about you dealing with your sense of powerlessness in the world. You got what you were feeling off of your chest and maybe even debated a few people about it... but after your attention moved on to the next hot topic to be upset about there were still lions and Black people being murdered.