Who Gets to be Angry? On Jussie Smollett, Tamla Horsford, + Shaliyah Toombs

Who Gets to be Angry? On Jussie Smollett, Tamla Horsford, + Shaliyah Toombs February 24, 2019

First, let’s start with this: the only people who really get to be pissed at Jussie Smollett are the people who cared when they thought he was telling the truth. The other only people who get to be pissed at Jussie Smollett are the members of the marginalized communities he represents. Period.

If you’re not sure who I’m talking about, Jussie Smollett is an actor who is Black and gay, and recently posted that he’d been hospitalized after being attacked by two men yelling racist and homophobic epitaphs. More recently, it’s come to light that the police believe he orchestrated the whole event, paying the two men to attack him because he was displeased with his salary on the show, Empire.

As soon as news of the attack initially hit social media, the response was quick and passionate. Supporters understandably offered words of encouragement and condemned the attacks. Personally, after hearing that yet another Black member of the LGBTQ community had been attacked, changed my Facebook profile to Jussie’s image temporarily. I did this — and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed for doing it — because I hope for a world in which these kinds of incidents are not so freaking believable.

As soon as the story broke that Jussie had fabricated the entire event, my social media feeds blew up again — but with a different group of people. These people were outraged — OUTRAGED I tell you — over Jussie’s lie.

Now, I’m not saying that what he did isn’t a toilet-worthy pile of crap of epic proportions. What he did was horrible on a number of levels, not the least of which is the fact that he has now offered fodder to all the people who love to write off members of the Black and/or LGBTQ community when they are victims of crimes.

But what I find just as disturbing is how quickly all those people who couldn’t be bothered to type a single sad emoji in support of Jussie when they thought he’d been hurt were suddenly cursing and screaming and calling him all sorts of names, and insisting that he be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Excuse me, but holy misplaced rage, Batman.

Yes, I get what Jussie did was disgusting. But if you couldn’t be bothered to be bothered when you thought he’d been the victim of a hate crime, then you don’t get to be bothered now.

And save the whole, “Oh, but I had a feeling.” You didn’t have a feeling. You just didn’t care.

Just like you don’t really care about Tamla Horsford, the woman who was found dead at an adult slumber party. She died in November, but we’re only just hearing about the case now because, first of all, a dead black woman is not considered an important news story. Not even when that woman was a mom of five who was the only black woman at a party, had multiple bruises all over her body, when 911 wasn’t called until 2 hours after her body was found, in a town that, just about 30 years ago, was all white and desperately wanted to stay that way. Go ahead and Google Forsyth, Ga. (For a more in depth look at Tamla’s story, check out my friend Dr. Sam Kline’s piece here.)

I’m just wondering here if the news had decided Tamla’s case was worthy of the news, would you be enraged about it? I mean, we were certainly enraged when Chris Watts killed his beautiful pregnant wife and two daughters. Elizabeth Smart? Laci Peterson? Natalie Holloway?

I’m not saying these stories aren’t important or that these women don’t matter. I’m saying that we seem to only care about a very certain kind of person when it comes to our rage quotient.

Speaking of rage — here’s one that will get you for sure. A beautiful young mom, eight-months pregnant was strangled to death, her body driven around in the back of a pick up truck for three days before the owner of the pick up truck, who had been there when she died, told police.

Wonder why you never heard about this case? One guess.

Google: Shaliyah Toombs.


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