Phillip Morris, Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 26, 2007
Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa had a problem with juvenile elephants attacking endangered white rhinos several years ago. The attacks were unprovoked. A number of rhinos were sexually assaulted; some were killed.
Managers of the reserve initially could not fathom a reason for the attacks. Elephants and rhinos are not natural enemies. But on closer inspection, a problem was identified.
The practice of culling herds by killing off senior elephants, and moving juvenile males onto smaller reserves, proved disruptive to social structures. It caused many young males to mature without parental guidance, and to go into the sexually active and often aggressive musth period prematurely.
The young males became disruptive and dangerously aggressive. There were no older males to tame them, to challenge them, to show them the way.
The reinstitution of older, bull elephants into the herds solved the problem. The older males put the juveniles in their place. The natural order of things was restored.
Black men can take lessons from the elephant. They must save a race seemingly bent on extermination. They must rein in the fraction of young men who promulgate public misery.
It’s our problem.
In her book “Tar Baby,” Nobel laureate Toni Morrison says, “The black woman is both a ship and safe harbor.”
But the mother ship is sinking. The harbor is crumbling.
Black captains must step forward now and re-establish order.