Nia Wilson had big dreams.
Like a lot of teenagers, the 18-year-old loved to rap and sing. Wilson hoped to become a lawyer and start her own cosmetics brand one day. But unfortunately, those aspirations were tragically put to an end.
On July 22, 2018, when Wilson and her two sisters were stepping out of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train in Oakland, California, she was stabbed to death by a white man.
Her death caused an uproar across the nation. While police have not decided whether or not this was a racially motivated killing, concerns about white supremacy and white privilege have been brought to public attention. In her statement offering condolences to Wilson’s family, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf made a note about the “tragic and deeply racist history” in the United States. From mass protests in Oakland to social media posts, celebrities and ordinary people alike have been expressing their fears and frustrations with racism.
One of those celebrities to honor Wilson is Anne Hathaway.
In a compelling Instagram post, Hathaway nailed the importance of checking white privilege.
As a white celebrity, it’s valuable for someone with her influence to speak against the violence women of color have to fear every single day.
“White people — including me, including you — must take into the marrow of our privileged bones the truth that ALL black people fear for their lives DAILY in America and have done so for GENERATIONS,” Hathaway wrote in the post she uploaded on July 25. “White people DO NOT have equivalence for this fear of violence.”
The murder of Nia Wilson- may she rest in the power and peace she was denied here- is unspeakable AND MUST NOT be met with silence. She is not a hash tag; she was a black woman and she was murdered in cold blood by a white man. White people- including me, including you- must take into the marrow of our privileged bones the truth that ALL black people fear for their lives DAILY in America and have done so for GENERATIONS. White people DO NOT have equivalence for this fear of violence. Given those givens, we must ask our (white)selves- how “decent” are we really? Not in our intent, but in our actions? In our lack of action? Peace and prayers and JUSTICE for Nia and the Wilson family xx Note: the comments for this post are closed. #blacklivesmatter #antiracist #noexcuse #sayhername #earntherighttosayhername
But as Hathaway pointed out, white people must do more than just “acknowledge” their privileges.
“Given those givens, we must ask our (white)selves — how “decent” are we really? Not in our intent, but in our actions? In our lack of action?”
Hathaway’s observation about the violence women of color often face is accurate — and a horrific reality.
On July 7, a white man spat on and pushed a Korean woman toward a train in Brooklyn. According to a Facebook post accompanying the video footage of the incident, the unidentified white man told the woman to “get the fuck out of my country.”
In May 2017, another white person started screaming anti-Muslim epithets at a teenage girl and her friend while riding a commuter train in Portland, Oregon. The man ended up stabbing three men, killing two, for defending the girls.
The Commission on Human Rights released a June 2018 report that revealed 1 in 4 Muslim women said they were pushed on the subway platform while wearing their headscarf. One of these examples include an incident in December 2016 when a Muslim woman was pushed down the stairs in a NYC subway and called a terrorist.
Although it may seem like a simple social media post, it’s crucial for other celebrities to join Hathaway in their public criticisms of white privilege.
The issues women of color often face rarely make headlines, but celebrity entertainment news does. With her millions of followers, Hathaway has made the point to tell her community that we could no longer choose to ignore racial violence when it occurs.
Rather than divert our attention way from it, it’s time for us to confront racism head on.