Talk Back

Want Your Life to Matter? Be a 400-Pound Gorilla

As reflected by the #JusticeforHarambe outcry sweeping the U.S. and abroad, being an animal is the best way to rally the zealous support of incensed (mostly) White folks.


Harambe, a silverback gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, was shot and killed recently to save the life of a 4-year-old child who fell into his enclosure. This left people infuriated over his “murder.”

Saturating the Internet are comments about the injustice done to this animal. Angry and grieving families have taken to the streets to protest, and are making the pilgrimage to the bronze statue of a gorilla outside of the zoo to pay homage.


Supporters, like world-renowned primatologists (fancy word for lady who loves gorillas more than she loves people) Jane Goodall, penned a sympathy email to the director of the zoo and expressed concern about how the other gorillas were coping with their grief. This was “a devastating loss to the zoo, and to the gorillas,” she wrote, in a display of compassion and care for all almost all involved.

But where was her empathy for the adorable little boy and his parents? Assuming that the news outlets had truncated her message, I went to the original source to read it in its entirety. Read it once. Read it twice. Read it a third time. *Crickets* Not one mention of “so glad he wasn’t hurt,” or “he must have been so afraid,” or “wow, let’s hope he’s not traumatized for life by this experience.” Where was the concern that the child could have been strangled or trampled to death? Jane and the 469,182 (and counting) Harambe-mourners like her haven’t spared a few minutes of joy or gratitude for the human life that was saved.

Even worse, commenters like the two below are examples of those who’ve made it embarrassingly clear that the life of the animal should have taken precedence over the child’s well-being.


To them I say: here’s hoping you never get a frightening reminder that human lives matter most.