After a woman was injured after crossing a barrier to take a selfie with a jaguar at an Arizona zoo, The Root negotiated an exclusive one-on-one interview with the jaguar.
Michael Harriot: Hi, how are you? I want to thank you for taking some time out of your schedule to do this interview. What would you like to be called?
Jaguar: I am M’yteatchu, princess of the great forest, mother of panthers, punisher of line-crossers, breaker of chains, destroyer of Beckies.
But lately, everyone has been calling me Cat Turner.
MH: M’yteacthu is a beautiful name. How did you wind up in a zoo?
CT: Well, I was stolen from the motherland years ago when the white man came and enslaved us. I’ve been held in captivity since then, trying to set my people free.
MH: So tell me about the attack from your perspective. What was it like to ...
CT: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Attack? What “attack”?
First of all, I was chilling at home when some white lady broke in. What would you do if someone came into your house with a weapon? This is a clear case of Stand Your Ground! She was armed and attacking me!
MH: She had a weapon? All the news reports say she was unarmed. All she had was a camera.
CT: It may look like a camera to you, but you have to look at it from my perspective. I could only see that she was reaching for something black and shiny and I had to make a split second decision. How was I supposed to know that it was an iPhone? I’m a jaguar, not a firearms expert.
Plus, You don’t know how it is on this side of the thin blue line.
MH: Thin blue line?
CT: Yes. The zookeepers painted a bunch of lines in front of my cage.
MH: Oh, you mean the words: “Danger! Do Not Cross.” Those are words. And that color is red, not blue.
CT: Well, part of this anti-jaguar, human supremacist system is that they keep us down by giving us an inferior education. The schools here are terrible, so I never claimed to be very good at reading or knowing my colors. Maybe I struggle with literacy because, again ...
I’m. A. Jaguar.
MH: So when you saw the woman, what was the first thing you thought?
CT: I feared for my life.
You have to understand the environment I grew up in. I’m from the West Side of Wakanda, so I was raised to defend my borders from Caucasians. I was literally born into the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Even when I talk to my other homeboys around here—the lions, tigers and bears (please don’t say it) all have terrible stories about what happened when they let white people get too close. I see it on the news every day.
MH: You watch TV?
CT: Yes, they give us basic cable here. I mostly watch Animal Planet, the History Channel and the NFL Network.
MH: Wow, that’s a really diverse list of viewing.
CT: Not really. They all show the same thing—animals trying to kill other animals.
MH: Oh. So what happened next?
CT: Well, first I looked around to see if this was some kind of joke. I’ve heard that white women often overstep their boundaries, but I didn’t know they did it literally. I was raised to not allow anyone to disrespect my cathood like that. I thought: “You must not know who the fuck I am!” Then I yelled “Brooklyyynnn!” and pounced on her ass.
MH: Wait ... I thought you said you were from Wakanda. Why did you yell “Brooklyn?”
CT: “Wakanda” has too many syllables.
Also, when I was at the Bronx Zoo, dudes used to scream that all the time when they punched someone for stepping on their Timberlands. I just assumed it means “watch out motherfucker.” My English isn’t very good. I may have neglected to mention it but:
I’m. A. Jaguar.
MH: Did you feel bad about injuring her?
CT: No, it felt great. I haven’t hunted in such a long time, it felt good to get some cardio in. They say pouncing is great for the glutes. It was really exciting. Besides, what did she think was going to happen? I wanted to show “those people” what happens in real life when you fuck with jaguars.
MH: Who specifically do you mean by “those people?”
CT: I mean “people.”
I wasn’t even trying to kill her, I just wanted to make sure she wasn’t trying to colonize my cage. I’ve heard what happen when “those people” move into your neighborhood. First, they destroy the property value and then violence starts. They tear down the forest. They kill the vegetation. They start wars.
We jaguars usually bite the throat, but I was literally trying to disarm her. I couldn’t get it out of the socket though, so I left her alone. She should be glad that I don’t really eat white meat like that. She wasn’t really seasoned right, either. She tasted like asparagus and spin class.
MH: So what happened afterward?
CT: Well, all the leopards and lions have been trying to holla at me since it happened, but I told them I have a man. I got a lot of street cred. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored Panthers (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund has agreed to represent me if I’m charged with a crime. We are also considering filing defamation lawsuits against the people who say I “attacked” someone.
The mainstream media portrays us like we only commit jaguar-on-jaguar violence, but the truth is, when you see those National Geographic documentaries of big cat fights, those are mostly taken on nature preserves where they have kept us segregated for years. And when they see us in their neighborhoods, they call the police on us.
That’s why you never see a jaguar in Starbucks or cooking out at Oakland parks. They love to watch us run, jump or fight, but when was the last time you saw a group of leopards just chilling at Applebee’s? Everyone loves kitten videos and Winnie-the-Pooh sidekicks shucking and jiving, but they fear a real Tigger. They want us all dead or locked up behind bars.
So everyone seems to understand my main reason for doing it.
MH: What was your main reason? Freedom? Revolution? Liberty?
CT: No, dummy, it’s because I’m a jaguar!
MH: Oh, right. So what’s next for you?
CT: Mostly the same stuff. You know, chilling out. Doing some periodic pouncing. Trying to bite the hand that feeds me. I’m teaching a cage-defense class on Thursdays. Maybe start a chapter of Black Cat Lives Matter.
I’m also considering a televised interview with Gayle King. After that R. Kelly interview, she’s probably the only person who can keep their composure around me.
MH: Well it was nice talking to you M’yteatchu. Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
CT: Yes, I’d like to send a shout out to my cousin Killmonger, who inspired me to do this. This was for all my people who have been wronged by a white woman, from Emmett Till to Amy Klobuchar’s Senate staff.
To my white people, before you cross the next boundary, remember what Nat Turner said: “Many of them are filled with fury and the unctuous coating of flattery which surrounds and encases that fury is but a form of self-preservation.”
MH: Was he talking about Jaguars?
CT: Not quite.