To some, the circus is a getaway, an escape.
I’ve seen women attend the show with dresses, heels and their best hairstyle.
I’ve seen men running into the circus tent as if someone told them there’s a million dollars inside of it.
For a lot of people, the circus reminds them of their childhood, their innocence…
Now imagine someone telling you that you’ve been supporting years and years of animal abuse.
Deep down inside you’ve always found it kind of weird that they were able to get elephants, tigers and camels in your small city and perform these abnormal and painful looking tricks… but you just push that thought to the back of your mind and enjoy the show (or do like I used to do and just get numb and zone out when the animals would come out).
Remembering all that’s been stated above has helped me get over a lot of angry backlash and negativity that I’ve encountered.
With all this being considered I want to state this...
Supporting my acting career and not my animal activism is an oxymoron.
The animals are the reason why I decided to follow my dreams of becoming a well known actress. My acting career gives me a platform to spread awareness about animal advocacy. The two simply cannot be disconnected.
I think about the animals in the circus more often than not... A few days ago I logged onto my Facebook and shared a thought that circulates through my mind frequently:
Shortly after posting, a woman, much older than me, commented under my status. She was the mother of a son who performed for the circus and she was also a friend of my family. I was on set hence why it took me so long to see the exchange.
Her comment read “Girl...not everyone feels guilty after going to the circus. When my son was a circus performer, he had an amazing relationship with some of the animals on tour with him. They were a big family. Animals included”
I then saw that my dad commented underneath her comment and said, “This response reminds of a white person who excuses racism because they have a Black friend. The larger picture is that circus animals have been and are being abused. I pray that Love Atiya does not respond to your response.”
She then replied “Whatever” and I guess she realized how ineffective that was so she commented, “Everyone doesn't share the same view. And that's ok. People don't need to be continuously criminalizes because of that.”
I inboxed her a day later (I’ll post that below) but FIRST I want to show you her reply.
After reading her reply I knew that I HAD to write this blog.
2017 seems to be the year of four things.
1. Learning How to go with the flow
2. Seeing that the negative will very rarely be able to accept or comprehend the positive or their truth, no matter how it is phrased.
In the word of Jack Nicholson “You can’t handle the truth”! And that’s okay.
3. Realizing that common sense and compassion does not always penetrate ignorance. It is not always my job/responsibility to help the ignorant become educated.
4. Teaching adults how to be adults and how to support generations below and above them without negative criticism.
Earlier this month I got attacked by a whole bunch of twitter tolls (stay tuned for a YouTube video about that) but once I realized that these people didn’t know me, it became more disappointing and less hurtful. Disappointing because it showed me that there are simply negative people on this earth who have time to spread that nasty energy for no good reason.
The thing that shocked me more than them, were the family members and friends who have tried to fracture my spirit over the years.
I had to block a blood relative from my Facebook because she was spewing negativity towards me and my animal activism.
Although I’m sure her angst was related to things that had nothing to do with me, she decided to take it out on me. After I realized how stupid going back and fourth with my own cousin was, I blocked her.
I’ve learned the worst karma anyone could have, is not having me in their life. I cannot imagine living without me.
Now with this most recent person, she’s known me since I was young and has been someone who supported my family for a while. I think the part that aggravated me the most about her comment is that she commented at all. I never understood why people thought they could ever tell me what to do, if I want to criminalize people who support animal abuse, I feel like I can do that. J
Although my post was geared to the people who KNOW about the abuse that happens in the circus and still attend, even after witnessing how hard I advocate against the circus.
The most ironic part is in 2014; five young men who worked for the Universoul circus harassed me while I was protesting outside of the show.
So it was ironic to me that she said her son was a circus performer. I also wonder if she knew that they have little sleeping tents in the back of their big top tent. But hey, I guess that’s just a part of the carnie lifestyle.
A lot of animal activists point of view for the Universoul circus has been “Universoul circus has an array of wonderful willing human performers, enough to carry the entire show. Why do you still feel the need to have animal acts? The humans provide enough entertainment and diversity.” But some people are so stuck in their beliefs that we want to shut down the entire circus.
Are the human performers not entertaining enough for circus goers?
And don’t use the “my kids need to see wild animals” because a circus tent is not an elephants actual habitat.
Also, Universoul has misinformed you and your children into believing that their elephants are African elephants. They’re Asian elephants.
Anyways I want to show you how I handled this situation. I didn’t reply after she said she was not going to read it. That statement was proof that she was willing to remain in her ignorance on this subject and that’s okay. Not everyone has to see the light, not everyone is ready.
My inbox (before her reply):
Hope all is well. I just read your correspondence with my father in my comments section and I thought it'd be a good idea to inbox you my thoughts.
I saw you mention that your son was a circus performer. Well in 2014 at the age of 19 I organized my very first protest against the Universoul circus. I stood out there for days on end. Some days my parents came, some days my friends came, my grandmother even came out to protest!
One day I was protesting alone and five young black man who worked for the circus approached me, taunted me, yelled disrespectful things at me and then walked away laughing. It would be a shame if your son was included in that group of young men.
Throughout that week a lot of other male performers and workers taunted me. I even have videos! A lot of them claimed the animals are treated well and they get to feed them peanuts. But they're inside when the music is playing loud. They can't hear the elephants screaming, while getting beat with a bullhook (feel free to Google the tool) behind the scenes like I can (I have several videos of this too). I had grown women cursing me out and my father bared witness to how cruel people can be towards someone who is simply standing up for what they believe in.
As a child, I was lucky enough to learn my purpose in life and that's to speak up for animals.
I am so grateful to my parents for instilling the courage in me to express my beliefs. There are billions of people in this world and I want my world to be filled with people who support my thoughts in being compassionate to others. Why settle and share my energy with people who don't support me?
As an adult who has supported my family for a while, I am so disappointed that you would approach me the way you did, especially considering I was speaking on something that I am the most passionate about. Not many young people feel free to speak on things they're passionate about because of fear of ridicule. Luckily my parents raised me to be very strong minded and strong hearted.
I've attached a YouTube video I created featuring some of my peers a few years back regarding the truth behind the circus. I hope that one day you and your family are inspired to be as passionate as I am and have the courage to take action towards a positive cause.
Thank you for reading and I hope this sparked an extra bit of compassion in your heart.
After she responded saying she wasn’t going to read what I wrote, my mom tagged her in a video that I posted about a circus lion that hadn't felt the earth until he was rescued by a sanctuary. She tried to share a lesson of supporting young people. I'm unsure if she was able to learn and accept the lessons she was supposed to from this situation but I know that I learned sooooo many.
She was a great lesson/test in practicing amnesty and forgiveness. (which I am working ACTIVELY on believe me)
Moral of the story,
Some people are not ready to see the light but you must always remain your brightest light regardless.
I’m also learning how to feel compassion for people who choose to live in ignorant bliss. It’s so scary, tiring and requires a lot of courage to be knowledgeable, passionate and aware of what’s really going on. Not everyone wants to know the truth….and not everyone has to, in order for a difference to be made :)
For more information on the picture below google "How To Break A Baby Elephant In The Circus"or Click this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXMYQyFuYps