STATEMENT ON HATE CRIME EXPERIENCED BY ACTOR AND SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVIST JUSSIE SMOLLETT

 

January 30, 2019 (New York, NY)--Early yesterday morning in Chicago, Jussie Smollett was brutally attacked in a hate crime. Jussie is a talented actor and singer, a social activist and a long-time supporter of Justice League NYC, who was attacked for simply being a gay black man. We are heartbroken that this happened to our brother Jussie. He joined us in 2015 on our March2Justice - a 250-mile march from New York City to Washington, DC to bring awareness to victims of police brutality. He was with us as we presented three pieces of police accountability and criminal justice reform legislation to members of Congress. Over the years since, he has been a constant supporter of our work, and he is a kind and loving person to know.

While our community members have always lived in fear, it is rising at alarming rates, as bold and vicious attacks increase under the Trump Administration's open endorsement of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and hatred. This horrifying attack on both race and sexuality is just one example of how dangerous being queer and black is in America.

Homophobia is created by toxic concepts of masculinity, which is deeply embedded in our society regardless of political affiliation. Racism is also a product of the white supremacy and anti-blackness which exists throughout our society. Queer people of color, especially black trans women and femme-expressive gay men, experience heightened levels of violence. We have a duty to challenge that violence wherever it exists, including within our own social spaces. Everyone should be able to go about in public without fear of violence.

Justice League NYC member Brea Baker shared her personal reaction to the news: "As a bisexual black woman, hearing of Jussie's attack was beyond traumatizing. I went down a rabbit hole of all the anxiety I've suppressed. All the times I told my partner no to holding my hand or kissing me in public. All the times we've pretended to be best friends and not lovers. All the times I was accidentally outed. All the times men hypersexualized our relationship or, worse, claimed it was because I hadn't met the right man and threatened to 'fix' me. Queer black people (and especially queer black men) live with this every day. Almost every space we're in threatens some part of who we are. But like our ancestors, we are deliberate and afraid of nothing. We have nothing to lose but our chains," said Baker.

Justice League NYC sends our collective love to Jussie as he recovers physically and begins to go through a healing process. We are committed to fighting for a world where each person is safe, regardless of their sexuality or gender expression, race, background, ability, or status.