WASHINGTON, DC This morning, news broke that the charges against Jussie Smollett for allegedly orchestrating a hate crime have been dropped. In response to the news David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ), released the following statement:
"While many have taken it upon themselves to stand as judge and jury by rushing to dismiss brother Jussie Smollett's allegations of a hate crime, it is important to remember that Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving people people experience acts of hatred and bias more than other groups of people. While there are still details about the case that we may never know, it is an important reminder that we should never rush to judgement, especially people in power.
"Through his current role on Empire, Jussie Smollett has been leveraging his personal and professional platforms to ensure that Black LGBTQ and same gender loving people are seen and heard. His work and his life make it possible for Black, queer people to take up space, to be seen. I am thankful for brother Jussie, I continue to stand with brother Jussie and all he will continue to do work for those of us too often neglected and ignored.
"For Black LGBTQ and same gender loving people, the attack and the ensuing treatment by the media and local law enforcement, is a sad reminder that none of us not even famous entertainers are safe from the ugly vestiges of white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and homophobia.
"This tragic incident should be a reminder that privilege, whether it be education, wealth, or fame, does not protect.
"In 2017 alone, over 1,200 hate crimes were reported based on bias against someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. Since then, the violence has only escalated. We saw a 17 percent increase in these hate crimes from 2016 to 2017, and the FBI reports a 16 percent increase in anti-Black hate crimes during the same period.
"In fact, hate crimes against every racial and ethnic category counted increases in 2017. Trump has escalated the violence with racist rhetoric and destructive policies designed to divide and keep some of us locked out of access to opportunity. The clearest consequences of these deleterious actions are evident in these examples of vitriol, violence, even death, especially Black Trans women who face insurmountable challenges to living full, happy, and healthy lives.
"As we engage in the human rights work of advocating for fundamental protections of Black lives, we must ensure we're holding space for and ensuring protections for those of us with intersectional identities.
"Let's work better together to combat the ignorance, hatred, and violence Black LGBTQ people face, and hold our elected officials accountable to condemning hate openly and to passing transformative policies like the Equality Act, which would extend civil rights protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity and protect our access to housing, to jobs, to public spaces and services.
"We need all hands on deck. There are no lay people in the work of ensuring that we can all live without fear of being hurt, harmed, or killed simply as a result of who we are and how we show up in the world."
From a National Black Justice Coalition press release
The National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ) is America's leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving ( LGBTQ/SGL ) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.
See related coverage at www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Reports-Prosecutors-drop-Smollett-charges/65702.html .