Tagwa Shammet, Contributing Writer
[Editor’s note: This story was written and published prior to the surfacing of reports that Jussie Smollett may have paid the two men to attack him.]
A black queer man was walking down the streets of Chicago — suddenly, two white men jumped out and attacked him, yelling homophobic and racial slurs. They threw an unknown chemical onto his skin, beat him and put a rope around his neck, forming a noose.
It sounds like a scene right out of the Jim Crow era or the Stonewall riots. But this wasn’t a moment out of a history textbook; this happened last week, and the attackers wore “Make America Great Again” gear.
Jussie Smollett, famously known for his role as Jamal Lyon in the TV drama “Empire,” was brutally attacked by two white men the morning of Jan. 29. We all know what a rope around a black man’s neck symbolizes — their motives couldn’t have been more transparent. The attackers tried to physically and mentally harm Smollett in every way possible.
The Chicago Police Department said it will investigate the incident as a “possible hate crime.” But this isn’t a “possible” hate crime — it is a hate crime. Let’s stop sugar-coating situations that make us uncomfortable. It’s no secret that Smollett is a bisexual black man. Chicago police should not try to cover up something that is right in front of our faces. Enough is enough. Call things out for what they are. These MAGA-loving white men targeted and beat Smollett for being himself.
Hate crimes increased by 17 percent in 2017, according to the FBI. It’s no coincidence that the year one of the most offensive men in our country, Donald Trump, takes over the nation’s most powerful position, hate crimes rise.
Smollett’s attackers fully degraded him. He was just another victim of Trump’s America. Almost every minority group in the U.S. has been directly or indirectly affected by the Trump administration. We’ve seen it all — obnoxiously-loud MAGA paraphernalia, blatant disrespect and slurs from emboldened Trump supporters, the very president himself labeling white supremacists “very fine people” and black NFL activists “sons of bitches,” and the compromising of thousands of federal workers’ jobs for a ridiculously racist wall. Donald Trump has done nothing but shatter American unity.
The U.S. has never been more polarized. Democrats and Republicans are more divided ideologically today than they have been in the last two decades, according to an article published by Pew Research Center.
After Trump won the 2016 election, the safety of minority groups has been compromised. I’m a black Muslim female. Donald Trump and his supporters hate everything about me, just like they hate everything about Jussie Smollett.
We have endured this pain for centuries; minority pain has existed for as long as America has. It’s time for us to be seen as humans rather than minorities struggling to gain equality. My social media timelines are flooded by defaced minorities crying out for justice with the same concern that plagued society in the 1960s — it exhausts me.
Trump built an entire campaign on hatred. He wants to build a wall between us and our NATO ally, Mexico, under the false pretense that all Mexicans are criminals. He instigated a “travel ban” to prevent Muslims from coming to the U.S. — the original ban would have included people from my own home country, Sudan. We are talking about a man who says men can claim women by their genitals; a man who mocked someone with disabilities.
The effects of his hatred are taking their full form in the form of violence against people like Smollett. I love this country. I am privileged beyond belief to be here, but I don’t need to be accused of being a guest here every time I walk down the streets. Marginalized Americans are reminded constantly that under Trump, they are not safe. It seems that anyone who isn’t a straight, white, cisgender Christian male is paying a tax as the victims of Trump’s America.
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