Stop Saying The Leslie Jones Attack Was Because Of A Film: It Was A Hate Crime

25 August 2016, 13:30 | Updated: 8 May 2017, 17:09

Leslie Jones asset
Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

It's not about 'Ghostbusters' anymore. Leslie Jones has been systematically targeted.

Leslie Jones is a wonderful woman who none of us deserve.  

For the second time in as many months, the Ghostbusters star has had her privacy and dignity violated by people whose fear of a black woman's success far outweighs any lesson they've ever learned about human decency. At first we were able to dismiss these attacks against Leslie as nerd boys angry that she starred in a reboot of a cult classic. But it's no longer that. 

Yesterday (August 24, 2016), Leslie Jones became the target of a cyber attack that culminated in racist images, her ID, Passport, and personal photos from her iCloud being posted on her website. Leslie's peers and friends have rallied around her in the wake of this attack. Ghostbusters director Paul Feig tweeted his own outrage. 

This absolute contempt for black women who have achieved success isn't new and it certainly isn't rare. 

Normani Kordei has not been on Twitter since early August because of the racist abuse she dealt with on the platform as the only black group member of Fifth Harmony. Even our dear leader Mrs. Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter isn't safe from the anti-black, anti-female rhetoric that disparages her body, her politics, her child, and her marriage.

In the 17 years since Serena Williams won her first first U.S. Open, her body and femininity have relentlessly scrutinized by the internet, her peers, and even professional commentators. Even the Olympics USA gymnastics events, which were an awesome display of black female excellence, could not escape the usual and predictable "offhand" commentary about race

Even while fictional Olivia Popes and Annalise Keatings are revered and loved, IRL black female success still feels like something to be ridiculed and attacked rather than celebrated. 

When we talk about these Leslie Jones attacks, let's call them what they are. Let's not lie and delude ourselves into thinking that this is all happening because she starred in a film. We need to be honest if we're ever going to actually tackle this.

This is happening to Leslie Jones because she is black, a woman, and has dared to exist in a traditionally white space (comedy). This is happening because black female success is so scary and magical that people don't understand what to make of a woman comfortable and proud of her achievements. This is happening to Leslie Jones because we haven't moved past the idea that black women are less than and not equal to the Bill Murrays and Dan Aykroyds of the world. 

The troublesome narrative of the "strong black woman" has long dehumanized us, to the point where Leslie Jones can suffer these attacks and it's just another day's news. But her strength and ability to rise above doesn't preclude her from the sadness that comes along with being the target of a hate crime.