Hate killed Nia Wilson

When White Men Kill Black Women, It’s Not “Random,” It’s a Hate Crime

Ezinne Ukoha
Jul 24, 2018 · 7 min read

Nia Wilson is dead. She was 18-years-old. She was traveling with her older sister Letifah on the BART train system in Oakland, from Concord, on Sunday night, and when they disembarked at the MacArthur station with intentions to make a transfer — they were blindsided by a White guy with a knife.

27-year-old John Lee Cowell, had been riding on the exact same train as the sisters and it appears that once he made his exit — his next move was to attack two innocent Black women with puncture wounds to the neck — that left Nia bleeding and dying in her sister’s arms. Letifah was also seriously wounded, but Nia’s fate was worse.

She died at the bloody scene, a victim of a hate crime.

As always, the media takes its cues from law enforcement, who describe the tragically vicious attack as “random.”

But there’s nothing ever random about a career criminal whose Whiteness has afforded him more than enough chances to freely beef up his resume of brutality — until he finally hits the vulnerably challenged — who don’t have the law on their side.

The police are hesitant to label this a hate crime because Cowell apparently has no proven affiliations with White supremacist groups, and while he’s accrued an impressive array of violent offenses — including terrorizing a Kaiser hospital in Richmond, VA — charges of battery and armed robbery — there’s still the need to give this convicted felon — the benefit of the doubt.

This is how Black lives don’t matter in Trump’s America.

There’s no doubt that if a Black man had slit the throats of two White women in an unprovoked attack in a public setting — there would be a resounding tendency to acknowledge the glaring evidence of the likelihood that the crime was racially motivated.

The perpetrator would be demonized with a scathing rap sheet assigned to his demonic mugshot. The references to his criminal past would be staged in ways that present a reject of society who had every reason to rely on his disposition of hate towards women — particularly White women.

It wouldn’t take almost 24 hours to apprehend the suspect because when it comes to violence against White women in America, the system shows no mercy and that translates into an active and very energetic hunt for those who dare to perform the unfathomable.

We already know that Black woman are considered disposable, and as a result our access to a fair trial can’t be executed in our favor — at least not in the same way that benefits our White counterparts.

We can’t survive being pulled over for a traffic violation because if the White cop prefers to interpret our directness as aggression — we can expect to be lawlessly thrown out of our vehicles, pummeled to the ground, and then swiftly commuted to a cold, hard cell.

We can’t demand to be treated with the respect that should be afforded law abiding citizens, who every now and then, have complaints that should be received by management with common courtesy. Instead, when a Black woman complains about the service at a local Waffle House, the cops are asked to intervene as if her presence is alarming enough to warrant the militia.

The ongoing crisis of missing Black girls and women — particularly in the Washington D.C. area has gone largely unnoticed for obvious reasons.

When it comes to the plight of Black women in America — there’s no level of urgency that greets our calamity. Nothing is too inconceivable or even grotesque enough to incite national attention towards the systemic brutality that consistently befalls us.

We can watch a marathon of viral videos that depict the stories of our immense suffering at every turn, and yet there’s hardly any support from so-called White feminists or the newly-minted organizations that claim to serve in the best interests of victims of abuse, who desperately need a lifeline.

What happened to Nia Wilson is absolutely terrifying and as protesters gather to honor the memory of the beautiful girl who deserved to live a long fulfilling life, but ended up the victim of being a Black woman in a country that specializes in devaluing her dignity and grace — the playbook of atrocities just keeps expanding to welcome another hashtag to the fold.

It’s incredulous that whenever crimes are committed in methods that prove beyond a doubt that the reasoning behind it is maliciously embedded in the core principles of bigotry — those who are appointed to uphold the decree of justice — prefer to be stagnant in their approach by downplaying the irrefutable.

It’s grossly negligent and extremely reckless to undermine the quality of an investigation by minimizing the heaviness of something that doesn’t need the dramatics of Sherlock Holmes to figure out.

The White man that attacked to two young Black women with a knife and then casually walked away after wiping the blade clean from dripping blood — chose his victims for a reason. It’s not a fucking random twist of events that needs to be overly exorcised for the real meaning behind the crazy incident. His checkered past may provide some light into his chaotically volatile state of mind, but at the end of the day, two Black women were chosen for a knife battle that they didn’t have a chance in hell of winning.

It was a hate crime, pure and simple — and suggesting otherwise is a dangerous reality that we can’t entertain because more lives are at stake — including mine.

As a Black woman trapped in this god-forsaken society of domestic terrorism that features freely roaming White people — who either want the cops to do the dirty work of removing me from their view — or they take matters into their own hands with bomb packages, box cutters or guns — I’m literally scared beyond words to walk around on any given day.

After Sandra Bland’s life was taken away from her for reasons that will never quite add up — driving is also a risk. And after watching with tears brimming, as Chikesia Clemons was physically assaulted by White cops, who used unnecessary roughness that bordered on indecent exposure as they wrestled the clothes off her tiny body — it became clear to me that Black women virtually have no rights in the eyes of the law.

Anybody can fuck with us and it’s deemed as a justifiable solution to situations that are only escalated by the mandated aggressiveness of law enforcement — who are able to get away with physically harming unarmed Black women.

Let’s be very clear that when White cops punch innocent Black women in eateries or on the side of a road — it’s a hate crime. When Black girls are violently pushed to the ground and stumped on until they’re out of breath on a hot summer day — that’s a hate crime. When missing Black girls and women don’t make headline news, and law enforcement and mainstream media only pay attention to White girls and women — as it pertains to kidnapping and murder — that’s biased reporting based on selective investigations that can ultimately be categorized as a hate crime.

And when a White man chooses his victims carefully — from a train car filled with commuters of all races — we can’t pretend that his murderous rage wasn’t definitely racially-inclined.

As a Black woman in Trump’s America, where the president himself hails the efforts of White supremacists by publicly condemning the population of non-Whites who he accuses of driving the White culture to potential extinction — it’s terrifying to carry the burden of fear each time I step outside to take a breath.

Whenever a White male approaches, there’s a tension that envelops me as I wonder if I will feel the swipe of a blade across the side of my template. Or maybe he prefers to just shove me into incoming traffic for the full effect. There’s also the possibility that a passing car could pump out a spray of bullets that will hit me in the head or chest, and force me to release the bag of groceries that was supposed to be dinner with my parents.

Domestic terrorism isn’t a myth.

President Trump likes to hype up the rhetoric of how Muslims can’t be allowed into the country because of the danger they pose to White Americans. He’s selling the script of hate that his supporters love to hear — and his words carry the venom that is encouraging the rapid rise of hate crimes across the country.

In Trump’s America, White people have been granted permission to behave badly at the expense of Black people who now have to be wary of their actions and how it could affect the mood swings of their over-zealous adversaries.

And Black women are now vulnerable to the clear and present danger in the form of White men who have been able evade the clutches of the law through the audacity of their privilege — and are now passing extra time on the streets — wielding their license to kill.

Nia Wilson died because she was a Black woman in Trump’s America, and yet we’re supposed to believe that her murder was a “random” occurrence that could’ve happened to anybody — she and her sister just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Bullshit.

Justice needs to be served with a swiftness — and the best place to start is to dispense with the pleasantries and illogical jargon. We need to give Black women the respect we’ve earned — by handling this national crisis with the sense of urgency that it demands.

It’s time for a call to action across the board — and for me this latest tragedy is personal for obvious reasons. This could be my fate — and I will be damned if a White man callously takes my life and the resultant of the investigation is regulated to the file of “randoms.”

If hate kills me or anyone that I love — that’s a crime. Period.

Ezinne Ukoha

Written by

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say, so bear with me. https://medium.com/membership

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