Last month, on May 28 2016 at Cincinnati Zoo, a four year old boy called Isaiah Gregg climbed and fell into a gorilla enclosure. In this gorilla pen was a majestic well loved beast called Harambe. As Isaiah fell into the water, Harambe quickly ceased his moment with the boy. However Isaiah remained calm and collected as the gorilla violently dragged him around the moat. The dragging was certainly scary and uncomfortable to watch, it was violent. His mother tried to jump in after her son but was stopped, all she could do was watch her little boy in a very unpredictable situation and reassure him to remain calm, and calm did Isaiah remain. I certainly applauded the mother for her composure, if it was me with one of my little boys in there, I would have collapsed and probably ended up in hospital myself.
I thought the mother was an incredible mother. As a mother, one thing I personally lack is the heart to remain calm when my children are in any sort of danger or when they are not in danger at all. When children see their mother panic, they panic even more and in the end it doesn’t help the situation. I certainly learnt something from Isaiah’s mother. She did what most mothers would not have been able to do in such a fearful unpredictable situation, she stayed calm and also calmed her child. Had the boy been screaming, kicking and panicking, he could have agitated Harambe and the worst could have happend. At one point the boy Isaiah looked the beast right into the eye, that scene was one of the most incredible things I had ever seen involving a little child and a huge majestic beast. It reminded me of Daniel in the Lions Den. Forget Tarzan and Jungle Book, that was as Walt Disney as it can ever get. Absolutely breathtaking. What a fearless brave little boy. Isn’t it ironic that no one ever congratulated the boy Isaiah for his bravery. No headline ever said, “brave little boy faces gorilla”. The boy himself handled the situation incredibly, not many children his age would have been so composed in the arms of a gorilla. And I speak as an experienced mother of 4 children.
However as intriguing as it was to watch the boy and the gorilla for a minute or so, yeah it was kinda like Tarzan for a minute right. But there was one problem. This was no Disney fairy-tale or some miraculous Daniel in the Lions Den encounter. It was a real life gorilla. A wild beast. The gorilla seemed very unpredictable. And the wild beast did what wild animals do. It suddenly lifted the boy Isaiah by his buttocks then dragged him violently to a closed area where people could not see him. The zoo staff then acted in the best interest of the child as he was clearly in danger. Harambe had to die. He was shot to save the precious life of Isaiah.
The story captured the world’s attention and suddenly sparked international outrage, with animal lovers mourning the death of Harambe. Some wept as if they actually personally knew the beast. It was truly incredible in a rather twisted way. Animal lovers went a little further than mourn the death a gorilla they never knew existed, they blamed Isaiah’s mother for the death and wanted her to pay for it. Many called for the mother to be arrested for child negligence, some called for worse to be done to her. And these people were actually serious. The police had to issue a statement that there would not be any criminal charges on the parents after receiving so many complaints from the public. The public was not satisfied, they wanted the woman’s blood. The mother received death threats, she was called all sort of despicable names. She had to close her Facebook account due to the backlash. The father of the boy was dragged into the papers and his past as a convicted drug dealer exposed, even though it had no relevance to his son falling into the gorilla enclosure. The world was in uproar, the hatred and blame for the parents was so intense.
Oh may I just mention one little important detail, Isaiah and his family were black. But you may ask what his colour got to do with anything. Well that is what changes the entire story. No one celebrated the child being saved. In fact some went as far as to wish the child had died instead of the gorilla, it was the parents fault after all, they said. No one congratulated the boy Isaiah for being brave. No one interviewed the family to hear their side of the story, as far as the public and media was concerned, they all deserved to die or rot in jail.
However three weeks later, again in America another similar tragic story unfolds. At Orlando Florida at a Disney World Resort a 2 year old little boy called Lane Graves was enjoying a vacation with his parents and sister. At some point during this dream vacation at a place where children’s dreams are supposed to come true, the parents of the little boy decides to take the family into a man made lake that had clear warning signs that said “No swimming”. They went in 10 feet beyond the warning sign. I think its fair and just to conclude both parents of Lane clearly ignored the signs not to swim in the water. The parents allowed the toddler to paddle in this pool. Paddling is actually a type of swimming. So the boy was swimming in a lake that has clear signs that says “No swimming”. The lake happens to be infested with alligators. The boy Lane was tragically snatched by an alligator. Lane’s father, like any father jumped in and tried to save his little son from the alligator’s jaws but to no avail. The lifeguards arrived soon after but the alligator was already gone with the boy. It was truly an awful horrendous situation and my heart bleeds for the family. Lane obviously suffered unimaginable and excruciating pain. Four alligators where shot and killed during the search of the boy. 17 hours later the remains of little Lane’s body was found, obviously he was dead.
Again the story has captured the world’s attention but did not spark any international outrage. So much sympathy for the parents of-course. A little bit of blame on Walt Disney resort for not putting up “Beware of alligators” signs at the lake. A child has actually died here, yes its a terrible accident but its not rocket science to see that someone or rather some people were clearly negligent here. It is rather strange that no one is being blamed this time around, especially not the parents. BBC world news has gone as far as to say the parents of Lane Graves in this case were “blameless”. There is nothing they could have done better, apparently. It is rather strange considering that a few weeks ago the world was calling for a mothers head on a plate because her son had accidentally fell into a gorilla enclosure. Only a few weeks back the world was blaming a mother for the death of a gorilla. But now a child has died. A child has actually died because of clear parental negligence and alas it is all as calm as ever. Is it just me or is the silence on the case rather loud. Where is the international outrage? If not for the little boy what about the four beloved alligators that were shot? Where are all the animals lovers gone suddenly? Or was Harambe more important than the alligators. It was never really about Harambe was it? It was mainly because a black boy had caused a gorilla to die. The hypocrisy of it all.
All I know is if Lane was a black boy, surely the parents would have been arrested by now for child negligence. If Lane was a black boy the Disney resort would have been flooded by protesters by now with posters reading “Justice For The Alligators”. If Lane was a black child, I’m sure four memorial Facebook pages would have been set up for each alligator by now. But because Lane was a white boy, it was just a tragic accident. Actually it wasn’t even a mistake, according to BBC the parents are blameless.
To the world Harambe’s life was more precious than Isaiah’s. Had Isaiah been white, he would have been a star by now. I’m sure book deals and all sorts of endorsements would have been on the cards. He would have been known as the brave little white boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure. He would have had a few TV interviews. His parents would have been hailed as incredible. The family would have made quite a bit of money over the story, more than the millions made by Madeline McCann over the disappearance of Madeline in what was obviously child negligence.
What an upside down world we live in. These stories of these two little boys have taught me a lot about the world we live in. One was a black boy with a father who had a criminal past and for that, his life was not that precious. The other was a white boy from a middle class family and his death was nothing but a terrible accident. What this has taught me is colour is still at the centre of everything today, even when its about little children. But I choose to look at it from a different angle, the calmness of the death of Lane Graves actually says Lane did not matter that much. The uproar of the saving of Isaiah’s life was actually saying his life was worth the international outrage.
To the parents of Lane Graves I say may your child rest in peace, it was an awful tragedy and a cruel way to lose a child, but I believe it could have been easily avoided had you just done the right thing and not let your little boy into the water as clearly instructed.
To the mother of Isaiah Greggs, Michelle Greggs you are truly an amazing woman. I learnt a few things from you as a mother. I also learnt more from you as a woman who loves God. I learnt about faith and trust even when things are unpredictable and scary. As for Isaiah what a remarkable boy to be admired. Your son is clearly very special. He is daring, handsome and brave. He has a story. Write a book, maybe “Isaiah In The Gorilla’s Den”. It is your testimony, run with it. Everything happens for a reason and it is up to you to overcome with the word of your testimony. Even Donald Trump, whom I believe is your next president did say shooting Harambe was the best thing to do to save Isaiah. You gave God the glory for saving Isaiah, don’t let the twisted perverse upside down world we live in take away your testimony.