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Shaun King (and Gryffin!)
Today I’m home with the boys and we’re watching The Lion King as I type. I’m watching-notwatching because I sat through it last week with Gryffin when he was home sick from school. We’re only about 20 minutes in and as
we the boys watched the first scene with Scar, Gryffin asked me suddenly,
“Mama, why does Scar have a black mane? Why is his mane different from all the other lions?”
I had never noticed it before he asked. And I considered launching into a discussion about socializing and how/why we’ve come to associate dark things with evil/bad/scary but decided to save it for later this afternoon when he and his brother are less distracted. It’s hard to hold their attention when you’re competing with “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.”
But we’ll definitely be discussing why Mufasa, the benevolent and much-beloved king is portrayed with a lighter body and a ginger mane while his cold, evil, despised brother is depicted with darker fur and a black mane. Especially in light of what I read on Shaun King’s timeline this morning.
2015 is not what we thought it was. The deadliest hate crime against Black folk in the past 75 years happened THIS YEAR in Charleston.
More unarmed Black folk have been killed by police THIS YEAR than were lynched in any year since 1923.
Never, in the history of modern America, have we seen Black students in elementary, middle, and high school handcuffed and assaulted by police IN SCHOOL like we have seen this year.
Black students, who pay tuition are leaving the University of Missouri campus right now because of active death threats against their lives.
If you EVER wondered who you would be or what you would do if you lived during the Civil Rights Movement, stop. You are living in that time, RIGHT NOW.
I’m aware that a conversation about Mufasa and Scar seems like splitting hairs. I do. But it’s also how socializing works. It’s subtle. No big thing. Just a coincidence, right? I get it.
But when I consider the repetition principle, which tells us that if something happens often enough, we will eventually be persuaded, and I realize how often these seemingly inconsequential scenes play out in our movies, our books, the billboards as we go over the bridge, the magazines that arrive in the mail, and countless places and spaces we don’t even notice, I know that I have to talk about it with my kids. I have to point out the ways that they are being socialized by our media, our culture, and even something as innocuous as our movie choice about the lions at Pride Rock. Just as I eagerly point out the blazing leaves in September and the sunrise in the morning, I have to help them see what they might otherwise miss.