On Harambe, Worst Case Scenarios, And Being Judgmental When The Rainbow Isn’t Enough » VSB

Featured, Pop Culture, Theory & Essay

On Harambe, Worst Case Scenarios, And Being Judgmental When The Rainbow Isn’t Enough

John Sommers II/Getty Images


It’s my fault, really. “Don’t read the comments” (except for at VSB) is pretty much the only way to read articles on mass news sites on-line. Racists and trolls dwell in comments sections when they’re not testing glaze at Krispy Kreme.

But I’ve always been hardheaded, so on each article I’ve read about the SUPER unfortunate situation at the Cincinnati Zoo where officials had to put down Harambe, the 450 pound silverback gorilla, because somebody’s child fell 15 feet into the gorilla moat, I’ve read the comments that follow. And I’ve been outright amazed at how fucking ridiculous people are. ESPECIALLY the people with kids.

Let’s cut to the chase. It’s sad that this animal had to be put down. But it had to be done. People over animals, b. We have no fucking clue what Harambe may or may not have done to that child. The situation itself lasted 1o minutes. Imagine being a parent watching your child effectively living in the wild with a behemoth animal that can literally crush a coconut with his hands for 10 damn minutes. Have you ever tried to do that? You can’t do that. It’s a wild animal. It’s a zoo. I know some of us have this INSANE belief in this country that the lives of animals are more precious than humans, but its simply not true. While man has definitely been an asshole towards nature, the fact is, we run this earth shit. #factsonly

It sucks that this main attraction had to die this way, but it was the only plausible and reasonable solution for each and every reason that the have-something-to-lose zoo officials presented.

But the part that gives me the redass is the people pretending, and yes all of you motherfuckers are pretending, that in NO way, shape, or form could anything remotely “irresponsible” happen to you and your brood.

Get. The. Fuck. Over. Your. Selves.

For those of you without kids, do you know what parenting really is all about? Especially up to, say, age six? Keeping your kids alive. That’s it really. Everything is about making sure they don’t get dead. Keeping them from chasing that ball into the street. Making sure they understand to walk on sidewalks. Looking both ways before crossing the street. Not touching the stove. Not walking out the door without a parent. Always holding hands with an adult. ALWAYS walking in front of me so that I can see you, etc.

Parenting is one big ass exercise in survival training. So, yes, the parent of that three-year-old (or four-year-old, I’ve seen conflicting age reports, though it matters not) should have been paying attention to her kid. Because of course she should. Then again, there’s no proof that she wasn’t. But you know what else? Kids are fast as fuck, fam. And when they get an idea in their head they get tunnel vision. As somebody with small children, I’m aware of this and its a herculean task. The zoo? The zoo is where you put your skills to the test. If you’re one of those parents who put your kids on a leash at the zoo, well, congrats, I get it. You decided to avoid the game altogether and ensure a favorable result. But the rest of us, we spend all of our time looking at and for our kids. But look, nobody is perfect. It is entirely possible to take your eye off your child for a SPLIT second and then feel like you’re trying to find fucking Waldo.

Kids are fast and they move quick. In 99 percent of the instances, we eventually locate our children, avert a national calamity (see Harambe) and go on about our lives like usual until the next time we avert a national calamity (see Harambe). But every now and then, we get a calamity (see Harambe). That’s what happened here. The absolute (well second to absolute) worst case scenario happened. A child managed to find himself in an enclosure with a wild animal and LUCKILY is alive. We can talk about how that parent should have been looking out for her children. And yes, she should be. But who is to say that she wasn’t? All it takes is a split second. And if you’re a parent, even the best parent alive, you’ve definitely taken your eyes off of your child for a second. You have. Shit, half of you people text and drive and that’s LITERALLY playing with other people’s lives.

And likely, something has happened to your child before that just isn’t national news or common knowledge.

True story: back when I was like, 9 or 10, my grandmother took me, my sister, and two of my cousins to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio. That place rocks. Well, my grandmother, who was a spry 50 at the time lost my sister. She had four kids with her, and for the vast majority of our trip, she had us all corralled. But somehow, someway, my sister got separated from us. My sister was either 6 or 7 at the time and you can imagine what hell she was going through. My grandmother, however, was going through the worst hell imaginable, something I’m aware of now. Every second feels like an hour. She wasn’t being a bad parent, but still my sister got lost. For about 15 minutes we scrambled all over the damn place until somebody came up to us because my grandmother was looking frantic and asked us if we lost a kid.

We were taken to a little house FULL of lost damn kids. This little house had coloring books, a television playing movies, and about 20 kids inside who had been separated from their parents. Even in retrospect I don’t think that they’re the children of bad and irresponsible parents (some might be), but kids who got away from their parents as kids do that thing that kids do…try to live their own myopic little lives without regard for consequences. Sure, they’re scared as fuck once they realize what’s happened, but it doesn’t change anything. Maybe they won’t do THAT thing again (immediately), but they’ll go try to defy death in another way.

Chirrens gon’ chirren.

Yes, it would be awesome if we could all do a 100 percent perfect job keeping any eye on your children at literally all times and avert any and all catastrophes or even small scale major inconveniences. But its unlikely and unreasonable to think its a possibility. Nobody is perfect. Some of you have dropped babies, accidentally left your kids in the car, or locked yourself out of the house with a child inside. For the record, I’ve done none of those things which proves I’m a better parent than you are. Right?

The high horsery is ridiculous when it comes to this situation. I’m sure that mother will forever think of what she could have done differently, and luckily she gets to hug her child again. But the result doesn’t make her neglectful. There’s real neglect happening out here to some children. This was a horrible scenario that thankfully ended with a child being reunited with his mother. I think it sucks that Harambe is dead, you know, as much as a person can who didn’t know this particular animal even existed until some people decided he needed justice. But it sucks when any situation ends like this. Everything went wrong.

The death threats the mother has received and calls for her to be investigated by child services are beyond non-sensical. Especially because there are no perfect parents. There’s just what the rest of us don’t know, just as in any other facet of life. This story got national attention because people think this parent should be somehow held accountable for the loss of the caged animal (a whole different can of worms).

But as people, we have to stop pretending like accidents don’t happen. They do. Luckily, most don’t end up on the news.

Also, I don’t assume she’s a bad parent, but even if she was the worst parent known to man, the end result would be the same.

People over animals, b. People over animals.

But more importantly, an accident doesn’t make you a bad parent. A STRING of preventable accidents makes you a bad parent. If her kid stays in wild animal enclosures and already knows how to drive a stick shift and thinks Future is the best rapper of all time, sure, somebody needs to call Top Flight Security of The World on her.

Most of us have no idea about her life though.

What we all DO know is that accidents happen, especially with children; rarely should that a reason to call for somebody’s head.

And here’s the MOST important part: I don’t ever expect something like this to happen to me and my children. But I know that it COULD happen. I know what kids are capable of and that its possible to lose track of my child for a second. And by all accounts, I’m a stellar parent and one who cares about my children above anything else. Yet, I know that I can’t be everywhere at all times and stories like this do scare me because the shit is possible.

With that in mind, if some shit like this ever happens to my kid, would all of you judgmental assholes please aim and fire at whatever animal is potentially going to tear my child apart limb from limb and judge me afterwards? I’m fine with that.


Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • RaeNBow

    So many folk on the internet acting like they are perfect parents and their child(ren) ain’t NEVA EVA EVA got away from them. Oh, the delusion. But, please, #carryon saints who raise perfect kids.

    Sad the ape had to die, but that is what happens when you keep inherently dangerous animals as zoo exhibits then, don’t provide enough security measures. I blame the damme zoo. The open nature of the exhibit was unsafe. This was BOUND to happen. Could have been prevented with about 20 feet of Plexiglas.

    • To be fair, I think the parents deserve to be criticized, that’s part of being a parent. But people basing it on the fact that an Ape got shot and died is ridiculous.

      • PhlyyPhree

        I’m still hesitant to criticize the parents unless they have video showing that the mom clearly didn’t look at/for her child for at least 10 minutes before he fell into the cage.
        I am a parent of ONE and I know how hard it is to live life while trying to keep said child alive and living their own life. I can only imagine the level of superhuman omnipresence it takes to care for four children AT THE SAME TIME?!?!?

        • People criticize parents for their babies crying in church. It’s not fair, but it’s part of what every parent deals with. If your kid falls into a pit and gets dragged around by an ape…I mean…

          • PhlyyPhree

            You’re right. Still, as a parent, I don’t believe the church situation is right either.
            I have a problem with society as a whole for being so quick to judge and slow to display empathy so there’s that.
            I guess what I should have said is that I don’t understand the level and intensity of criticism and moral outrage.

            • On the flip-side a lot of parents wouldn’t even attempt to raise their kids right, if it wasn’t for social pressure. A lot of them don’t give an eff with it. I think it’s unfair, but I don’t see it going down any other way.

              • PhlyyPhree

                There will always be exceptions, but the overall imperative for most humans is to propagate their DNA, so I don’t think there would be a large increase in bad parent(ing) if social pressure was removed.

      • RaeNBow

        since i am not a parent, i’m uncomfortable with criticizing too harshly, but yeah…. “people over animals”

  • YeaSoh

    ” People over animals, b.” It’s actually “White people over animals, b”.

    The only reason why there is any debate over this is because the kid is clearly black. I only see wypipo protesting.

    • IwanttobeaRizpah

      My soul sister!!!

      I didn’t even know the race of the child until I read the comment. White, yellow, blue. Don’t matter. They didn’t have to kill he silverback.

      • YeaSoh

        Hey bae!!

        So I’m sure you didn’t see the gorilla dragging the baby by his foot under water multiple times while get more and more agitated?

        Like, I love animals too and hate that that happened but first consider this is a wild animal in captivity. Second, consider he weighs 450lbs (was it?) and is flinging a 4 years baby left and right under water, no less, like a ragged doll. Third, consider he doesn’t actually know what’s going on. He was becoming more and more agitated. He doesn’t know why the crowd is yelling at him. Watch the video.

        The point is, is Harambe’s life worth finding out if he would have killed the baby or not? And, if you can’t guarantee that he wouldn’t have killed him, than there should be only one answer, which is also why I suspect they killed the gorilla.

        • IwanttobeaRizpah

          We are on the same page now!!!

    • Buster Cannon

      I was gonna disagree with you on the race part, and then I see folks carrying on about the child’s father’s criminal history. This ‘everything is our fault even when it isn’t’ narrative is getting old fast.

      • YeaSoh

        Honestly, it didn’t become a race issue for me until I started seeing all the protesting that was going on and how people were criticizing the mom. Like, it’s over the top now.

        • Helga G.Pataki

          Black mothers get no sympathy in the media. None whatsoever

          • Val

            That is so true. And worse than getting no sympathy Black mothers are villanized.

      • An Arizona white woman can get high, place her baby in a car seat on top of the car.. drive said car 12 miles without noticing that the baby has fallen off the top of the car..still keep custody aaaaaaannnnnnnndddddd avoid jail time with a simple…yeah… this is the lynch mob… didn’t want to believe it because I am a holier than thou parent.. but it is..

  • ChokeOnThisTea

    Hey, Panama!! I was wondering what happened to you. I was like, “Damb. First, Aggie. Now, Panama. Is Damon tryna pull a Nino Brown around here?!!!”

    Anyhoo, you’re right– “chirrens gon’ chirren” and people’s lives are more important than animals’. Except in wypipo’ eyes. In their eyes, black chirren ain’t chirren at all. Black parents aren’t allowed to make mistakes the same way nonblack parents are. And everyone is more important than animals except for black people.

    • panamajackson

      I’ll be back with an explanation of where I’ve been purdy soon.

      • Val

        Hurry up, Man.

      • LMNOP

        Do you have another new baby too?

  • NoPlaysOff

    These omnipotent, omnipresent parents are making my skin crawl. You know what I’m learning in my short time as a parent? That no matter how hypervigilant, overprotective or preemptive one may be, excerment happens…. It can happen on your watch, too…. And when it does, the fear, shame and guilt that comes with it is insanely heavy. The last thing you would need is for a bunch of parent police, who have never lost sight of their child EVER, to be going in on you on social media. Especially since NO ONE has all the facts!

  • Junegirl627

    Hey I need more info before I call that lady a bad mom.

  • IwanttobeaRizpah

    Lissen. I get it mistakes happen. Whatever. BUT why put the silverback to sleep?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! It’s an endangered species! For heavens sake. It did what a WILD animal does, hence why it’s behind a cage! I’m against animals being in zoo’s anyway. They should be in their natural environment. Nyhoo!! I don’t understand it.

    • ChokeOnThisTea

      There was no other immediate solution. Anything else would have taken longer and time is of the essence when a person’s life is potentially in danger. #BlackPeopleMatterOverLionsAndGorillas

      • Kas

        I didn’t realize the kid was black and I saw the video

        • PhlyyPhree

          I knew the kid was black as soon as I saw the headlines.
          If it had been a white child the headlines would have read something along the lines of:
          “Innocent child rescued from Vicious Gorilla; Zoo closure demanded by outraged public”

          • ChokeOnThisTea

            Say that!

            • PhlyyPhree

              Oh, of course.
              and the requisite interviews from close family and friends saying how they never saw something like this happening to her.

          • Brother Mouzone

            I too knew the kid was Black as soon as I heard about the story, just based on the “debate” that went on about why they killed the “poor” gorilla and how much the mother was being criticized right from the start by all the media.

        • ChokeOnThisTea

          He was. They’re showing his and his parents’ faces all over the media. Even going as far as to dig up the father’s criminal past. Wypipo.

          • grownandsexy2

            They may have to leave the country. Folks is serious with the death threats.

      • IwanttobeaRizpah

        In agreement.

    • Mortal Man

      The silverback is huge. A tranq dart may have angered it and it could have taken it out on the kid.

      Killing it was the best option.

  • Ehh, eff PETA and Apes in general.

    Nobody crying and protesting about the ape ever chilled with the Ape.

    They didn’t break bread with the Ape.

    The Ape wasn’t their pet.

    They didn’t do shots with the Ape.

    They didn’t follow the Ape on twitter or instagram.

    So why are they acting like one of their friends died?

    These are the same people who wanted to pretty much noose the white dude who killed Cecil the Lion, so I’m not surprised by this. It’s just interesting to me that an Ape getting shot, got people sounding like Agent Smith from the Matrix:


    Humans: The only species capable of self-hatred and thinking it’s a virtue.

    • Brother Mouzone

      Only difference, Cecil was just chillin’, he didn’t have a human child next to him.

  • It was too bad to kill the animal but you have to choose a child’s life over an animal’s life every single time.

    • IwanttobeaRizpah

      Maybe I didn’t comprehend. Did they kill the silver back to save the child or killed him just because the child fell in?!

      • The gorilla was dragging the child by the foot through the water.

        • IwanttobeaRizpah

          In that case human life over animal, without question.

  • HoobaStankyLeg

    I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Zoos need to go. Period. Instead of using holograms to bring dead people back to life, why not make holographic zoos? There’d be no reason to pull animals out of their habitats. You wouldn’t have to worry about kids possibly getting attacked, and they wouldn’t have to spend money feeding and maintaining them. I just think zoos are inhumane and Sea World can go too.

    • IwanttobeaRizpah

      Thank YOU!!!!!!! They are very inhumane!!! Yaz. All the claps in the world for you.

    • cakes_and_pies

      Are you opposed to the pageantry of zoos or just zoos all together? A lot of zoos exist to prevent the extinction of endangered animals and to prevent inbreeding.

      • HoobaStankyLeg


    • I used to think that way but in some cases zoos are what’s keeping certain species alive. Thanks to human wars, smuggling and certain countries/cultures clinging to discredited “traditional” medicine, there are a number of animals that are on the brink of extinction. Ideally animals shouldn’t be in zoos. But ideally we shouldn’t be killing wild animals because we think it’s fun or because we believe in nonsensical medical remedies.

      • HoobaStankyLeg

        That all sounds good. But to keep a species alive, only to be kept in a cage, to be poked and prodded…. I’m sorry, it doesn’t change my mind.

        • Short of physically beating sense into billions of people in Asia who are convinced that rhino horns or tiger livers are just the thing to solve their intimate performance issues or preventing “bush meat” consumption in parts of Africa or stopping American and European hunters from decimating wildlife so they can feel big and bad I’d rather zoos do what they can to preserve animal life. I wish there were another way but unfortunately there’s not. At least not in the short term.

          • HoobaStankyLeg

            Somewhere along this journey of humanity we lost respect for all creatures. Somewhere along the way we started to believe we are somehow better or more superior. But we’re going to die just like them so….You know what? I’m just glad I won’t have children to grow up in this amazingly ignorant world. Everything, and everyone truly does deserve better than what we have made of this world.

  • Buster Cannon

    Sometimes I’m really disturbed at how often people are willing to prioritize the lives of animals over ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS. Yeah, it sucks the the gorilla had to die, but when it’s the gorilla’s life or the child’s it should be a no-brainer. There really shouldn’t be any controversy at all, just be thankful that the boy is safe.

    That said, I do wonder if merely putting it to sleep was an option over shooting it. I’d like to think that the zoo had access to tranquilizer, but I don’t work at one and I’m not sure what contingency plans they have in place for scenarios like this.

    • Ari

      That was the first thing I thought of too, but I think the zoo administration said the tranquilizer would do more harm than good because it would agitate the gorilla. The whole story is just tragic all the way around.

    • NoPlaysOff

      It’s my understanding that the tranquilizers most zoos have on site take about 5 minutes to even take effect.

    • PhlyyPhree

      From the article I read, the administrators felt that the tranquilizer dart might have agitated the animal more before it would have had time to kick in.

      • HoobaStankyLeg

        I find that strange though too. Because you have a gun. So you tranquilize first, if he goes off then go head and put him down. But to just take a life….That’s sad.

        • PhlyyPhree

          I don’t know. My understanding is that it was one of those split second decisions. I think the overlying imperative was that the child be rescued safely and those administrators and handlers did what they felt was safest for the child in the long run.

          If they’d tranquilized the gorilla and it didn’t work as quickly as they’d hoped, the gorilla could have killed the child quicker than they feared, so I still say it was the right decision.

          • Epsilonicus

            Animals tend to freak out once hit with a tranq. A tranq gun takes like 10 -20 minutes to fully kick in. Meanwhile, the animal is freaking bc it got shot. Imagine getting shot in the bum. That would make you freak out too lol

            • esa

              aww man you’re reminding me of a terrible scene in “Next of Kin” where they try to tranquilize the chimp they’re using to study the AIDS virus.

More Like This