Early on Jan. 29, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was attacked in what the Chicago Police Department is calling a “potential racially charged hate crime.”
The two alleged attackers reportedly yelled racist and homophobic slurs at Smollett, an openly gay black man, and poured an unknown chemical substance on him, according to Chicago Police. The alleged attackers were reported to put a rope around Smollett’s neck.
The investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.
Unfortunately, what happened to Smollett is not new. If we’re being real, what happened to him is nothing but the physical manifestation of all the subtle “jokes” and comments people make to “other” black gay people. They’re more common than one would think.
Those posts on Twitter asking “What would you do if your kid was gay?” Those comments from your aunties and uncles about kids nowadays being “confused.” Those “no homos” your friends like to sprinkle in after every sentence.
For whatever reason, there is this unbelievably loud chunk of America constantly hell-bent on implying that we are somehow less-than. I will truly never understand it.
Along with the numerous challenges black people face on the daily, add being queer to the equation and it’s a double whammy.
Being black and gay is as terrifying as it is liberating. Both communities are resilient, and I love being part of them. Unfortunately, the special concoction of racism and homophobia that comes with it is daunting.
I’m talking about those of us who are scared to go to school, walk down the street or even go home because of the constant threat of violence hanging over us. Daily activities that, frankly, a lot of straight and white people take for granted. We don’t just get “faggot” thrown at us. We get the noose, like Jussie did.
If they are just jokes, why are 48.8 percent of hate crimes because of anti-black prejudice? Why are 58.2 percent of them because of anti-gay bias? Why did 2017 have the biggest jump in hate crimes since 9/11?
In numerous instances this year alone, the term “no homo” has been said around me and other …
Nobody wants to answer these questions.
Later that week, according to a Chicago Police Department incident report, Smollett reportedly was hesitant to report this to police. And he’s not the only one.
A Bureau of Justice Statistics report on hate crimes in America found that more than half of hate crime victimizations were not reported to police between 2011 and 2015.
This is the same country that has discriminated against gay and black people since its inception. There are still five states where minorities are not guaranteed protection under the law from assaults fueled by prejudice. Even then the laws only protect certain minorities.
Thoughts and ideologies can turn into real-world behaviors. It’s very possible to perpetuate violence without actually ever lifting a finger. There’s a lot of people who fit that bill, but all that means is there’s more work to be done.
Sure, nobody can change what they’ve said and done in the past, but they certainly can change the future.
Listen to what we say instead of silencing us. Reevaluate your choices and what you say or allow others to say about my community. Because whether you realize it or not, it is hurting us.