The Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla Shooting and Why I Don’t Hate White People (Commentary)

I don’t hate white people.
Ironically, starting with this acknowledgement before moving to my purpose turns out to be the underlying point. Namely, sentiments about white America shared below must be contextualized as “non-hateful”, while white America, through various forms, routinely and unfairly criticizes black America without the slightest felt-need to offer such openings. Indeed, the criticisms of blacks are launched and accepted as morally responsible on a prima facie basis.
But I hold no animus towards white people. However, my love for mankind that extends to whites is not rooted in meritorious inclinations. That is, I don’t hate white people because of their history of relationship with blacks. That historical relationship has been forged and perpetuated in white supremacy whose footprint runs from the fifteenth century until this present time.
I don’t hate white people because their ancestral connections to Africa are rooted in the savagery of tribal manipulation, kidnapping, murder, rape and torture, so as to advance the evil institution of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
I don’t hate white people that adopted instruments of politics to pop-science to establish the notion that people of African descent are somehow endowed with indequate intellectual faculties. A fallacy advanced, even while myriad inventions, the arts, and other elements of society that contributed to the developed world originated in black minds.
I don’t hate white people because a kind of cultural bigotry that labels all things white as virtuous and all things black as suspicious and shameful. Even the evil of lying is minimized when prefixed by the adjective – white.
I don’t hate white people because of the inherent hypocrisy of framing a nation on the principles of freedom and justice, unencumbered by socially-designed systems of institutional subjugation of blacks.
I don’t hate white people that create mythical phrases to reinforce the myth of merit and hide the rudiments of disparate social, economic, health, and other indicators of progress. The cream rises to the top. Survival of the fitness. Natural selection. Racial “bell curve”. All rationalizations that careful avoid the inconvenience of serious historical critique.
I don’t hate white people because of their audacity to even insert fallacy into matters of faith. A white Jesus that is literally emblazoned in the neuro-pathways of even the most Afrocentric among us. A lie that whites erroneously appropriate as the basis of their [imaginations of] superiority and blacks erroneously internalize as the basis of accepting [codified messages about] their inferiority.
I don’t hate whites because of the little things their worldview imposes. Little things like being at company parties where the white guy in the room pontificates on matters about which he thinks he knows most. And the black guy stands, nodding, so as to placate his white colleague as opposed to educating him in a way that would be embarrassed — and subject to future [hidden] hostilities. Little things like, blacks working as diligently and skillfully, but hiding their homes, cars, and other enjoyments from their white colleagues to avoid the Rosewood syndrome. In the 1997 motion picture, a racist white southerner in the rural Florida town articulated in the infamous lines: 
That nigger, he hates us white folk.
He does.
You know, he’s got a piano.
A nigger with a goddamn piano.
I’ve been working all my life,
I ain’t got a piano.
You don’t know how to play one.
I don’t hate white people that magnify black infractions and minimize their own. A black man fleeing the scene, making a sudden move, or like Amadou Diallo is just “looking suspicious” is filled with hot lead. But a white young man can flee a scene, crash into police cruisers with his automobile, not be riddled with bullet or suffer and choke hold, and live to tell the story. The 15-year old boy is mutilated and the killers are not only freed but also paid to tell their story. But a young black man in a hood and eating Skiddles is shot without legal retribution.
I don’t hate white people for editorializing history in such manner to choose who blacks should consider friends and foes. A history that created a Lincoln myth of freeing slaves, when Lincoln harbored the most racist of sentiments towards blacks. And that same Lincoln sought to transport freed blacks out of America to colonize Liberia. A history that instructs blacks to consider John Brown an historical “enemy of the state”. An enemy that lost his lives and sacrificed the lives of five sons in an effort to steal 10,000 guns from the slave states army post in Harper’s Ferry. The mere idea is tantamount to historians preaching the virtues of Hitler to Jews, while making Oskar Schindler a traitor to be despised.

Whites in power control resources to kill, demonize, and otherwise undermine the humanity of black life — as we now see in the case of this black father. Whether in their response  to racism-laced statements by Donald Trump, get tough attitude on drug crimes (until drugs knock on their door), or their acceptance of economic development policies and practices that disenfranchise blacks, everyday white citizens all too often directly and/or indirectly support our nation preserves the social order.

I don’t hate white people that relish the opportunities to demonize black males. Consider a CincinnatiNation post on its Cincinnati News Facebook page:
Isiah, the four-year-old boy who cost gorilla its life when he fell into zoo enclosure – creating a storm around the world: In this, there is not respect of age.
It is as if the public is to assign an adult level of cognitive development to a 4-year-old child, who supposedly knew his actions would lead to the zoo killing the silverback gorilla. That the child was equipped with the critical thinking skills to process the inevitable options that would be presented to zoo safety officials. The reader might search for stories that involve a white child to determine where language pervaded the stories.
Demonizing appears to be what Fox News pursued in the recent controversial Cincinnati Zoo shooting of Harambe, a 17-year-old silverback gorilla, after a 4-year-old child fell 15 feet into a gorilla exhibit. Amid the scandal, Fox News decided to introduce another perspective; the background of the child’s father – Deonne Dickerson (36) of Cleveland, OH. Fox’s Abby Huntsman coverage began, The father has a long rap sheet, including drugs and kidnapping charges.
Deonne Dickerson and Michelle Gregg appear in a photograph as Ainsley Earhardt speaks on Fox News (screen grab)

Deonne Dickerson and Michelle Gregg appear in a photograph as Ainsley Earhardt speaks on Fox News (screen grab)


One newspaper enumerated charges that date back to 2006. An Australian news outlet entitled it’s May 31 reporting of Cincinnati Zoo incident:

First Pic Of Convicted Criminal Father Who Let His Boy Climb Into A Gorilla Cage

He has a lengthy criminal history


And numerous reports now attach the black father’s face and name to this controversy, as if he was somehow responsible for the tragic series of events. And this now, becomes the latest of tragedies heaped onto the pile of sad aspects of the story. The black father was not on the scene when the events of last week unfolded at the zoo. A black father who literally had nothing to do with the Cincinnati Zoo situation must now replay sensitive areas of his past life. A life that has been redeemed for productive uses. Animal rights activism has created zoo and media responses that now create a public spectacle of a private citizen.

To illustrate the contrasting ways that news covers these incidents, consider the reporting of a December 2014 that resulted in grave consequences. A 9-year-old boy, in a rural Mississippi town east of Jackson, took his adopted mother’s keys and went on a joyride in the family’s 2003 Mercury Sable.


The driver, Ty’Jun Thigpen (9), managed to avoid Mississippi Highway Patrol officers while speeding along Highway 35. According to authorities, Thigpen then raced across a supermarket parking lot. However, he soon lost control of the vehicle, flipped, and smashed against a utility poll. The incident left riders Brayden Traxler (3) and Justin Harrell (13) dead. Breckon Harrell (13) was treated for minor injuries and released. And Thigpen was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

The fatal accident was significantly more tragic than the Cincinnati Zoo unfortunate killing of a gorilla. And yet, unlike the gorilla story that has international media combing through Dickerson’s criminal records, in several reports of the Mississippi story, the mother’s name was not even provided. The public was not drawn into a conversation about any past blemishes in the mother’s life. We were not provided suggestive details that would cause us to question the mother’s parenting skills that might have had some relevance to the event.

And neither should this line of reporting come into an already terrible story.



10 wistv.comTwo children die in car wreck where 9-year-old is the driver

WDAY 6, Neighborhood in Mississippi in mourning after deadly joyride kills two young children

WLOX9-year-old driver injured and 2 others killed in Scott County wreck

KOBI-TV, Joyride Turns Deadly – Dec. 16, 2014



The unwarranted linking of Dickerson to the events at the Cincinnati Zoo feeds the narcissism that to be in skin other than white skin necessarily carries with it a sort of social deficiency. Thus, to many, the unsubstantiated connection of a black father is plausible as it fits within a broader black male characterization. And to be clear, it is a characterization that even blacks perpetuate. Recall, that President Barack Obama sent a message to whites in his early campaign castigation of black fathers; comments that followed Obama into his presidency. Stern words, suggestive language, and indictments about fatherhood shortcomings that were reserved for black audiences. In his Father’s Day 2008 speech to the predominantly black Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, then Senator Obama bellowed:

But if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing — missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.


Comments uniquely reserved for black audiences. As such, I don’t hate white people because they have designed a political system that requires a Harvard-educated Senator to endear a sufficient bloc of white voters by pandering, disassociating himself, and publicly berating black fathers. Behavior that makes implicating a black father in the recent Cincinnati Zoo incident a newsworthy narrative.

If this black father was to be connected to the story, why not in ways that most certainly would have occurred with a white parent – even one with a blemished past? The media could have introduced him by way of general reflections on the turn of events. We might have heard his views on what he saw in the now released video of the chilling moments that led up to the fatal shooting. Perhaps, that black father has pondered reforms that promote child safety at the Cincinnati Zoo. These and other news angles, the media neglected and the public ignored. What we now have is another black father whose past is now the topic of conversation for people around the world who had no meaningful business learning the details.

And here’s a most disturbing twist. The public is also learning about another father connected to the incident. The father of Harambe! The public can now read stories on this father. His age. Birthplace. Current residency. We are spared any unnecessary and unfounded indictments of Harambe’s father in the matter. We are not criticizing that father for not raising his son to be respectful of children. We are not hearing of the violent background in Harambe’s bloodline. The treatment towards Harambe’s father is more humane than that towards Dickerson.

As a black man, we spend a lifetime grappling with the foolishness of carefully targeted assaults. We must fight everyday that the racism in whites is not internalized by black men, our spouses, children, and society at-large. While the Fox spin in the Harambe story was not by the product of “every” white person, whites do listen in large measure to the what appears to be racists reporting by outlets like Fox. The ratings for this programming are generated by ordinary whites; our neighbors, church co-members, and co-workers behind Fox. Very possibly, the “friends” of Fox and Friends

I don’t hate white people because in story-after-story, the prevailing conversation about blacks routinely evolves to images of dysfunction, violence, and moral ineptness that the majority community must find ways to mitigate and control. Negative white projections that date back to the colonization of Africa and slavery are the quintessential European narrative of black images. 

The media running this black father’s life through its garbage dump for scavengers that feed on stereotypes reminds me of why I don’t hate white people. Simply, I don’t hate white people because of my love of Jesus Christ. Period. Faith provides a tremendous capacity for blacks to endure what whites conveniently dismiss as “paranoia”. Blacks still maintain a sense of humanity for the very group that has inflicted tremendous injustices. Non-hatred is a deliberate act of submission to the Word of God. And unlike the many so-called religious whites that rationalize their subtle animus towards blacks, as reflected in countless public and private encounters in our nation, I’m resolved not to be like that which I disdain – bigotry in religious garments.

Without the love of Jesus Christ in my heart, I could not assert non-hatred. Whites have given and continue to give blacks every reason to do just that – hate them. Hate white for their skin as a response to whites hating blacks for the latter’s skin.

And America should be grateful that the love of God fills the heart of so many blacks. As our nation is already up to its cultural neck in hatred.


Deonne Dickerson, I pray you can find peace and forgiveness in your heart for what appears to be character assassination by a misguided media. Know that, without exception, everyone has checkers in their past. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I simply encourage you to continue making positive strides on your journey.


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Kenneth D Price

Senior Managing Member at The BayLou Group, LLC
Co-Founder Kenneth D. Price is committed to promoting constructive conversations on pressing topics of our times. His corporate, small business, faith-based and community involvements enable Mr. Price to consider topics through multiple lenses. As a husband and father, Mr. Price is devoted to strong families. Most of all, his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the foundation of his worldview, recommendations, and general aspirations for mankind.
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