Gorillas in Congo

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to NPR on my way home from school (as usual) and The World was on.  I enjoy that show because it’s an hour of non-US news, which is nice.  This particular show highlighted the recent uptick in violence in some areas of Congo, particularly in the areas where the extremely endangered and (ideally) protected mountain gorilla lives.  

Before I go forward, a note.  I love animals.  I respect them.  I think they are amazing.  gorillas and chimps in particular I find fascinating.  I am a firm believer that animals need to be respected and (when necessary) protected. 

However, as well-meaning as I know this article on NPR was about the plight of the gorillas, they chose to use that time to talk about the gorillas and not about the families, children, mothers, fathers, grandparents that are also being deprived of basic things like their rights, their homes, and even their lives.  I couldn’t (and still can’t) feel comfortable with the choice to highlight these lovable animals over human life.  

I spoke to Ola about it, and he rightly pointed out to me that it’s because the people being slaughtered in Congo are black.  He compared this to Bosnia.  He asked if I could even IMAGINE a news report coming out of Bosnia during the war about some endangered and wonderful creature being threatened there while white children and families were being sniped, blown up by mines, and attacked?  And I can’t imagine a news report like that.  Yet nobody thinks twice about focusing on the gorillas.

I write about this because the NPR story played several weeks ago and it’s still on my mind.

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