Late night television host Jimmy Kimmel became visibly choked up as he described the death of Cecil, a beloved Zimbabwean lion, as a “disgusting tragedy.” In addition, a diverse array of stars like Olivia Wilde, Alyssa Milano, Newt Gingrich, and Judd Apatow all weighed in with disgust or anger at the allegations that Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer paid $50,000 to illegally lure Cecil from his home before decapitating him.
“I hope that #WalterPalmer loses his home, his practice & his money. He has already lost his soul…” tweeted Sharon Osbourne on Wednesday.
The backlash came on the same day a University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted for the shooting death of Samuel Dubose, an unarmed black man. The differing levels of outrage for the two deaths did not go unnoticed.
Many on social media pointed out that while celebrities and politicians seem quick to denounce Palmer and pay reverence to a dead lion, some don’t feel the need to similarly speak out about the recent spate of violence faced by people of color at the hands of police.
Writer and activist Luvvie Ajayi posted on Facebook, “Jimmy Kimmel cried about Cecil the Lion. Who else has he cried for or is that level of sadness reserved for murdered animals? I’ll be here waiting.”
Writer Roxane Gay took to Twitter to ask if black people would get more concern if they dressed like lions.
“I’m personally going to start wearing a lion costume when I leave my house so if I get shot, people will care,” she posted.
This Week in Blackness host Elon James White actually changed his Twitter avatar to an image of a lion after tweeting, “Maybe Black folks in America need to dress like Lions. Then everyone will be sad when we’re murdered.”
Others on social media joined the “pride” by changing their Twitter avatars to lions as well.
Writing at “Clutch,” Britni Danielle pointed out, “It’s not lost on me that the outpouring of love for Cecil, and the swift condemnation of his killer, is much more pronounced that the calls for justice for Renisha McBride or Rekia Boyd or Aiyana Jones.”
The lion’s death also sparked other comparisons.
Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio used the reaction over Cecil’s death to attack Planned Parenthood. “Look at all this outrage over a dead lion, but where is all the outrage over the Planned Parenthood’s dead babies?” he asked in an apparent reference to the spate of anti-abortion sting videos that allegedly depict Planned Parenthood employees discussing tissue donation.