Before her son was dragged by Harambe, the silverback gorilla in an enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo, Michelle Gregg was just a mother of four taking her children for a day out. Now? Gregg and her partner Deonne Dickerson have been accused of criminal negligence. Dry head Laura Collins wrote an article for (*sigh*) The Daily Mail with a headline so egregious as to be laughable reading “Father of boy who fell into gorilla’s enclosure has a lengthy criminal history.” As if his past transgressions, crimes for which he paid his debt to society, explain why his child wandered off and was able to climb into a gorilla enclosure. Enclosure. ENCLOSURE. It’s supposed to be closed, the clue is right there in the name.
Children are horrible little humans; I was once one, I can attest to this fact. They are powered purely by Ribena and their own desires, caring not for your rules or “enclosures”. Yet Gregg and Dickerson, are having their fitness as parents questioned to point they could face criminal charges. Is there a racial element to this story? Yes. It is well documented that people have fallen into enclosures before but were saved from this intense level of scrutiny, because white people make mistakes and fall into enclosures. But black people? We purposely throw our children into harm’s way, cos you know we can’t help ourselves. On the other occasions when people fell into enclosures at zoos, it was unfathomable they would experience this immoral investigation into their characters and dissection of the minutiae of their otherwise average lives. Whiteness spares you from this.
Listen, the real crime here is that humanity destroyed a species to the point of extinction. These animals are not protected from slaughter in the wild where they belong and have to be housed in zoos. Michelle Gregg and Deonne Dickerson are the victims of a zoo in which a 3 year old can climb into a gorilla enclosure as easy as pie. Instead of dragging up the history and personal details of these two people, the media should be looking into the real story; why for years the U.S Department of Agriculture hadn’t found fault with this enclosure. But that’s not a sexy story, it’s too easy a narrative. That story would be swallowed up by 24 hour news cycle and forgotten, but irresponsible black parents causing the death of Harambe, the gentle giant who was only “protecting and holding the boy’s hand” is sensational, character assassination that will ensure clicks and retweets.
The deflection of guilt allows us to place the humanity's inability in protecting wild animals at the feet of two parents. The death of Harambe was an avoidable tragedy, but that guilt belongs to the zoo, not to Michelle Gregg and Deonne Dickerson. Remember from here on out, should your child fall into a gorilla enclosure, ensure you are not black.
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