This month, stories and images of two egregious killings flooded the news. Social media sites were abuzz with outrage about the slaughter of Samuel Dubose, a father of ten in Cincinnati, and Cecil the Lion, a father of six cubs in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. They followed the tragic death of Sandra Bland in a Waller County, Texas, jail of an apparent suicide, after a policeman pulled her over for changing lanes without signaling.
Almost as quickly as expressions of shock, grief and horror crescendoed on social media, criticisms of these outpourings grew in kind. They took a familiar form: White people care more about lions than black people, people care more about black men than black women, people care more about wild animals than captive animals, people care more about killings than daily suffering from poverty, violence and hate, and so on.
I've always been leery of the zero-sum mentality that suggests if you protest against one injustice that means you privilege it over another injustice. This is a convenient and distracting narrative that weakens efforts toward social change. Who benefits when those struggling for a better world end up fighting with each other? Those who would rather keep the world as it is in its non-ideal form - those who are unwilling to give up their gendered, racial power. In this latest episode of oppression Olympics, very little attention has been focused on the commonalities between the murders of Samuel and Cecil and the racist, humanist, colonialist structures that support white men killing black men, women and animals.