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WHAT’S RACIST TODAY: Zookeeping

A Washington Post article this week highlighted the prejudices experienced by zookeepers of color.

WHAT HAPPENED

The feature story, published Monday, emphasized the “unicorn status” of non-white zookeepers and how they are “misunderstood within their profession and their culture.”

Two black zookeepers recounted being mistaken for janitors and otherwise feeling stereotyped because of their race.

  • “I have never experienced, myself, direct, overt racism,” said Craig Saffoe, the curator of large carnivores at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in D.C. “I had a lot of White people helping me, pushing me along.”
  • “But, according to the article, Saffoe recently “realized all the times he felt alone, when he was not taken seriously and mistaken for a janitor.”

THE REACTION

A menagerie of Twitter commentators responded to the article with  skepticism.

  • “Wait so zookeeping is roughly as white as the overall US adult population? That’s the story here?” asked Matthew Yglesias, a progressive cofounder of Vox, referring to the article’s claim that the zoopkeeping field is about 74 percent white, much like America.
  • “Zookeeping isn’t common in any community,” noted Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire.
  • “What does race have to do with zookeeping?” wondered Leonydus Johnson, a black conservative commentator. “What is wrong with you?”

SAME ENERGY

Axios reported in August: “A national reckoning has drawn attention to the discrimination some people of color face during a run in the mountains or a walk on a trail. The outdoors can be deadly due to bigotry, not just wildlife, lurking in the woods.”

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