If you’re a part of wokebook or are wokebook adjacent, like I refer to myself, then you’ve probably engaged in and seen many discussions on the inclination for white people to value animal lives more than the lives of Black people or POC.
Now, I personally can’t stand when people try to compare your concern, interest or even post frequency for different topics; like when you post about a serious situation and are then criticized for your lighthearted post that follows. We all can walk and chew gum at the same time, okay? But this isn’t that.
This is when the exact same people who are horrified at animal cruelty are apathetic and uncaring when Black and brown bodies are killed and abused. This is something that happens so frequently it’s kind of become a macabre joke with POC but mostly in Black communities.
It’s also important to note that Black people and POC love their pets/animals as much as anyone, though our relationship with them is sometimes different (although this isn’t the case for all of us, we generally have less of a “our pets are family” mentality) than how it is in white culture due to our sordid history with animals.
If we look back through time, animals were used by police/slave owners to attack us, Black babies were used as literal bait for alligators during slavery and Jim Crow and historically pet ownership has been seen as a way to achieve status and become more accepted in white culture. While our children are no longer used as bait, animals(dogs) are STILL utilized today to terrorize poor Black and brown communities, which is why there are many Black folks and POC who are genuinely terrified of animals. And if you’re wondering how something that happened during slavery or Jim Crow could possibly impact people today, don’t stress, the Intergenerational Trauma post will be making its way to you soon.
If you peruse the comments of any article that mentions an atrocity that affects Black people or POC you’ll find commenters who post different versions of “who cares?”, victim-blaming, apathy, character assassination or even expressions of joy. You almost always can find comments from the same people on animal posts singing an entirely different tune. And this isn’t only an online occurrence-for example, I had a co-worker who expressed absolutely no concern for a Black child who was hit by a car and injured. In fact, she was more concerned with them possibly loitering and what she was doing near our building. Sure enough, when a stray cat was sadly hit and killed, she had a complete meltdown and needed to “take a few moments to mourn.”
Just look at the way some people are speaking about the Michael Vick dogfighting situation that’s back in the news. It’s rare for me to see comments that aren’t brewing with racism, dipped in advocating for violence on Black people in general and sprinkled with “you want me to have the same care for a …a… Black persons life as I do for animals?!?” *cue the pearl-clutching*
I’d like to say that I don’t know why this is such a phenomenon, but as one of the research articles I read explained (paraphrasing)- it’s not that white people tend to care MORE about animals than Black and brown bodies, it’s that they typically DON’T care about Black and brown bodies. But this is something that we already knew. We see it and hear it in one of the countless microaggressions we experience daily.
Next time you’re reading comments on an animal post, click on a few profiles, you may just see the same people showcasing their indifference for Black and brown lives.