[Update 3/9/19] See Post: Justice and the Innocence of MAGA Love: What Does Jussie Smollett’s Indictment Prove?
Recently, two MAGA-loving men with racist and homophobic motives brutally attacked actor Jussie Smollett. This hate crime has nothing to do with making the United States of America great for the first time, the second time, again, or ever.
According to the Chicago Tribune,
Smollett told police he had just left a Subway when two men in dark clothes approached and yelled the slurs. Smollett told police he was hit and a chemical — maybe bleach — was poured on him. They put a rope around his neck and yelled, “This is MAGA country,’’ he told detectives. The initials stand for Make America Great Again, a Trump campaign slogan.
This hate crime has nothing to do with love of country, God, or love at all.
Love does not require hate-filled attacks and murders. Fear does.
If you believe that “greatness” requires a superiority because of class, race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or religion, then you have committed yourself to a poverty of mind, body, and spirit. You shrink your view of the world and limit your vision for the unlimited possibilities of expanding it.
What happened to Smollett continues to remind us that as long as oppression exists anywhere in the individual, cultural, and institutional domains, we have an illusion of meritocracy.
Certain Republicans become distraught whenever a Black celebrity speaks out against oppressive structures and behaviors. These individuals fail to recognize that a lot of us Black people with sophisticated social, political, economic, historical, and cultural awareness understand that celebrity and upward class mobility does not shelter us or remove us from the harshness of living in a racist society or world. These blinded souls do not realize that some of us, Black people do not disconnect ourselves from the experiences of other Black people because of a change in material or social status.
Smollett’s sense of connection is evident in his statement to Essence, when he says:
As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident, but I need a moment to process,” he concluded. “Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me.
All of these realities are valid. If we open our eyes, we can see how our shared and varied experiences connect us as humanity.
A Challenge for Republicans
As long as Republicans do not address the blatant and subtle homophobia and racism within their own party, hate crimes will continue.
If you are a Republican, you might believe these hate crimes are wrong. The more insidious message that “Others” do not belong might be evident without you ever saying a homophobic or racist slur or attacking LGBTQIA people of any race.
If you are a White Republican, you might not physically attack a gay Black man, but if you attend a church that teaches a loving God mass-murders of gay people to make the world great, you pave the way for such things. It is one of the reasons why I walked away from such madness. I could no longer accept or tolerate the teaching that a loving God required me to hate.
Perhaps more churches need to change their religious iconography to reflect the true state of their beliefs:
Exchange the image of White Jesus on a cross with a hanging Black man, and we have the ultimate sacrifice for White Christian privilege.
Exchange the cross for one on fire, and we have the religion that helped America be great with creating, hate, terror, and fear.
Exchange the cross for a noose, and we have the Godless spirituality that restricting the flow of love in this country and arguably, parts of the world.
The attack against a gay Black man is an attack on God. I contend it is an attack on all of us. When you attack any LGBTQIA person the same applies.
If you are a Republican, and you have intentionally crafted a life void of meaningful relationships with Black people, you might be on par with people who use racial slurs. Consider examining your motives. And that one Black person, colleague, church member, who you rarely spend extensive time with, do not count.
If your policies seek to maintain White supremacy instead of remedying the socioeconomic disparities created by centuries of racist policies and cultural practices, you actively place nooses on Black people.
If your policies prevent impinges on the liberties of people because they are LGBTQIA, you supply the rope for the nooses that your so called “extreme” followers use.
Those who read my writings know that I have challenged liberal, progressive, and Democrat politics and perspectives. Therefore, if you feel compelled to come to me with a “But the Democrats, ” argument, save it.
Today is not the day for focusing on both Democrat and Republican parties.
Today is the day for you to sit with your own hate. Today is the day for you to look at the hate you promote in the world whether passively or directly.
Today is the day for you to look at how you rationalize away the glaring signs of sickness in your party.
Today is the day for you to look at yourself and your politics.
I have. I do. You can, too.
You are not a political affiliation. You are human.
Instead of clutching your pearls with shock and dismay at what happened to Jussie Smollett, grab a mirror and look into it.