How Philando Castile Made Me Cry Over A Lizard
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Politics and Activism

How Philando Castile Made Me Cry Over A Lizard

All lives don't matter, but they should

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How Philando Castile Made Me Cry Over A Lizard
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My boyfriend accidentally killed a lizard on Friday, and I cried about it. I have to admit that, normally, I don’t really care about lizards that much.

Lizards are the kind of animals that were born into an unlucky species, the kind most people don’t empathize with or care about. You don’t see most animal rights advocates petitioning too zealously for the rights of lizards. There are no sad commercials with Sarah McLachlan’s voice crooning mournfully as the camera focuses on sad lizard eyes gazing at you with pain and sorrow. Most people don’t have enough time and empathy to allocate for animals like lizards.

It was a tiny baby lizard that accidentally lost his way and scurried into our room in the darkness. I yelled to my boyfriend, “Look! A baby lizard just ran into our room!” I was excited to catch it because it was so adorable, and the first thing I told my boyfriend was to be careful not to step on him. Still, I was a little scared of it, which was a bit silly because he was so small and so vulnerable in comparison to us. We had much more power and potential to harm him than he had to harm us.

My boyfriend went to the kitchen cupboard and took out two plastic cups. We went to the bathroom where we had seen the little guy scamper underneath the door. I turned on the bathroom light, stood outside, and again reminded my boyfriend, “Careful not to squish him!”

After a few moments of scuffling around, I heard my boyfriend exclaim, “Ah! I got him!” I pushed open the bathroom door and peered into one of the two plastic cups that my boyfriend was holding. I only caught a glimpse of him before my boyfriend quickly drew the cup away from me and stared intently into it. His brow furrowed. “Aw, I think I accidentally crushed one of his legs,” he frowned.

It turned out that he had crushed more than just the leg, because when I looked into the cup again, the poor little lizard had stopped moving altogether. A wave of compassion crashed over me, and my expression must have given away my profound disappointment because my boyfriend looked up at me and immediately tried to comfort me. “Aw, babe. Don’t be like that. It was an accident,” he said.

“I know,” I replied. I walked out of the bathroom and sat down on the bed, dumbfounded. Suddenly, tears began to stream down my face. I knew that it was quite possible for us to hurt him, but I hadn’t anticipated feeling this kind of sadness for a lizard.

My boyfriend said, “C’mon, baby. It’s just a lizard.” My stomach churned a little as I heard the flush of the toilet.

My boyfriend appeared from the bathroom and looked at me sympathetically. He sat down next to me on the bed and put his arms around me as I muffled my cries with his chest. “Babyyyy,” he cooed. “This isn’t just over a lizard, is it?”

I told him that I had seen too much death for one day.

That day, I learned that a black man named Philando Castile was shot four times and killed by a police officer after being pulled over for a broken tail light. In horror, I watched the video of him bleeding to death, as tears welled in my eyes. Once the video ended, I tried to restrain myself from bawling in a mall full of strangers who would probably wonder what my problem was. I stopped myself from crying then, and I stopped myself from crying the day before that, as I watched the video of another black man, Alton Sterling, bleeding to death after being shot by another group of our nation’s public servants.

As a black person, sometimes I feel like that baby lizard. We weren’t born as the kind of humans that many other humans choose to empathize with. I cried because I felt that at least one person should care about him at least one time in his short life.

Of course, I got over it, and I told myself that crying over the death of a lizard was ridiculous. Because to most people, lizards don’t matter. I’m not a f***ing lizard.

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