Not only did late-night host Jimmy Kimmel choke up while speaking against the recent killing of Cecil the Lion, he compared the public’s anger at the hunter to a Black man. Granted that Black man is now-notorious Bill Cosby, but the point remains the same.
Believe it or not, white people in America care more about animals in Africa than they do about the African Diaspora.
During his monologue, Kimmel asked the hunter, “Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you need to kill things?”
Why is that question not directed toward police officer Ray Tensing, who murdered an unarmed man sitting in a car?
Kimmel’s plea for a dead animal serves as an exemplar indication of how pertinent it has become for Black entertainers to use their elevated platforms to speak on racism and violence against the Black community.
“Black Twitter” alone is not enough. Too often celebrities are silent or passive about current race issues. A hashtag in an Instagram post is a good start, but more should be done. A powerful voice can lead to rallies or charitable donations. It is as simple as getting off the private jet and onto the ground to sit with your people and listen to their concerns. Black celebrities’ positions are unique, their influence can transform into a megaphone.
If not for social responsibility, it should be done out of moral principle. A family member or friend could be the next Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Kindra Chapman or Sam DuBose. No one said being a famous personality would be simple, but with a chance to change the world, it should be easy to stand up for what is right. Perhaps the silence stems from concern with losing popularity or a decrease in album sales, and while revenue is important it leads one to ask, “How much is your conscience worth?”
The problem here is not with Kimmel standing up for Cecil the Lion, even though lion hunting is legal in Zimbabwe. He defended what he felt was an injustice. The real issue is that many celebrities, Black and white alike, are acquiescent when it comes to oppression in the Black community.
In less than 24 hours after his Tuesday night monologue, Jimmy Kimmel’s tearful words raised $150,000 in donations for the Oxford Wildlife Conservation from 2,600 people.
What will your words do, Black celebrities of America?