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Jussie Smollett of Empire attacked, community groups respond
2019-01-29

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From the National Black Justice Coalition:

WASHINGTON, DC— This morning, news broke that Tuesday night, Jussie Smollett, a cast member of 'Empire,' was brutally attacked in an apparent hate crime. In response to the news David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ), released the following statement:

"We are deeply saddened, disheartened and devastated that an attack steeped in racist and homophobic hatred could happen to anyone. But we are not surprised. This attack is a sad reminder that none of us — not even our famous entertainers — are safe from the ugly vistages of white supremacy, anti-Blackness and homophobia.

"The violence against the most marginalized members of our community is nothing new. Trump has escalated the violence with racist rhetoric and destructive policies that are 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.

"Black LGBTQ and same-gender-loving people, especially Black Trans women, face insurmountable challenges to living full lives. As we engage in the human rights work of advocating for protections of Black lives we must ensure we're holding space for and ensuring protections for those of us with intersectional identities. If nothing else, these hateful demonstration of policies and practices designed to destroy our communities should be a reminder that if they come for some of us in the morning they will come for the rest of us at night. In this moment in history we must all work better together to combat the ignorance, hatred and violence Black LGBTQ people face, and we need our governments and our elected officials to start condemning it openly and to fight back with transformative policy too.

"Access to affordable and quality healthcare cannot wait. Protected access to affordable and safe housing cannot wait. Proactive policy and cultural competency cannot to prevent these moments of hate cannot wait. We need our law enforcement and elected officials to get to work to ensure all of us are safe no matter who we are, who we love, or how we live."

From the New York City Anti-Violence Project ( AVP ):

"While details are still developing, the hate violence Jussie Smollett experienced is reflective of what we see in our national data on hate violence, in our clients in New York City as well as the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) across the nation. LGBTQ people living at multiple intersections of oppression, such as racism and homophobia, experience compounded violence. This reality is what informs us to do our work holistically. Jussie is not alone. Gay Black men are some of the most vulnerable to violence in the LGBTQ community and this must continue to be addressed. Our work focuses to end and disrupt systemic violence that thousands of LGBTQ survivors face, while also working to support survivors in the aftermath of violence. Our deepest thoughts and commitment to this work is with Jussie and all survivors.

If you're experiencing anti-LGBTQ hate violence in the Chicago area, reach out to local NCAVP partner Center on Halsted Anti-Violence Project at ( 773 ) 472-6469, Ext. 474. For incidents across the nation, find your local NCAVP partner at avp.org/ncavp"

From Affinity Community Services, Chicago

[Added Jan. 30, 2019]

Dear Affinity Family,

We, at Affinity, are sending love and strength to Jussie Smollett and his family. We also send our best wishes for a full recovery. This brutal attack strikes at the very core of our fight as Black LGBTQ+ people. Many of us are all too familiar with being targeted and being survivors of violence for being who we are.

When the actions of leaders in this country are steeped in white supremacy, racism and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments, their silence and lack of action make their priorities crystal clear.

We are heartbroken and infuriated. For years, Affinity has served on the Hate Crimes Coalition convened by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. Incidents like this are under reported and disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ people of color. Affinity is committed to fight for the safety, protection, and voice of our communities.

In solidarity,

Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive Director

Anna DeShawn, President, Board of Directors

Aisha N. Davis, Esq., Vice President, Board of Directors

Jas Thurmond, Treasurer, Board of Directors

Jessica Peters, Secretary, Board of Directors

Jovan Watkins, Board Director


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