Editorials

What About Jessica?

By Richard B. Muhammad - Editor | Last updated: Jun 28, 2016 - 9:19:05 PM

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Jessica Hampton Photos: Facebook.com
Murder is a horrible thing but some killings are so gruesome, so wanton that they elicit a special brand of shock, horror, pain and dismay. The brutal and public killing of a young mother on a Chicago subway train is an infuriating horror story.

In broad daylight, Jessica Hampton was stabbed and had her throat cut as people watched. Some videotaped and took photos of the murder of this young Black woman, perhaps as she was assaulted, and posted pictures of her body as it lost life or was losing life.

She leaves behind a young daughter and a city and community that should be completely disgusted with itself and beyond ashamed. No one moved to help this young woman as she was allegedly killed by Arthur S. Jones, a Black male, who some of the victim’s family members didn’t know and an aunt told the media was a man the young woman dated briefly.

Whatever the case, Jessica is gone. You won’t see Jessica again on this earth and you will never see her again in the sweet by and by. She isn’t coming back and you aren’t going to float up in the sky with her. That’s a fairy tale.

And what are we going to do about it?

What are we as Black people in Chicago going to do about this murder? Hang our heads, suck our teeth, pile teddy bears and balloons on the ground, wear memorial t-shirts? Is that all?

Is that all Jessica deserves, to be a footnote and a tale told about how bad life in the city is these days?

She doesn’t rate more than that? She doesn’t rate an explosion of outrage and activity? A massive outpouring of anger and grief that spurs action? Nothing?

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Are we going to allow her death to be in vain and what about her daughter, her family, those who knew and loved her? Is their pain simply to be forgotten?

A 29-year-old Black man has been charged with first-degree murder, according to Chicago Police and he is held without bail. Media reports say the two people were talking or arguing and the man asked the woman if she would have his child. She said no and the fatal assault began.

Did the cell phone cameras begin recording the stabbing, or were they already rolling to capture the argument in hope of a World Star Hip Hop moment—a moment of Black bestiality caught on video and blasted all over the infamous website for the world to see?

In search of Likes and page views, the focus was on the unfolding drama not the reality of a young woman whose life was in danger. A sick voyeuristic, self-hating, self-loathing, fame-seeking, frightened response took hold June 16 and no one did anything. “I didn’t know her,” “I didn’t know him,” “I thought they were together,” “I was scared,” “I was confused,” “It’s just crazy out here.” Recite a litany of a million excuses and spread a million photos online, but nothing will bring Jessica back.

This is how low Black America has fallen. Can we go any lower? Probably. Every time it appears that the bottom has been hit, a new bottom seems to be found and a new tragedy is reported.

“My sister was a beautiful, gifted young lady,” her sister Loreal told one news outlet. “She did not deserve to go the way she did.”

According to NBC 5 in Chicago, passenger Andrea Patterson said she was seated near the victim and her accused murderer. “ ‘A couple of gentlemen were trying to help her but he still had a knife in his hand so nobody wanted to run up,’ Patterson said,” reported NBC 5.

“ ‘After she fell she went to get up and she started crawling to the door for help, and he grabbed her again by the face and pushed her back and cut her throat,’ the victim’s aunt, Delores Frazier said,” according to the Fox News affiliate in Chicago. Another family member said, “He’s obsessed with her, that’s what it really was … He was really obsessed with her. He wanted her. She didn’t want him.”

Her aunt added, “All the people on that train could have done something. One knife and all those people just standing there taking videos. They could have stopped that.”

But no one did.

That’s the problem—no one did anything. They recorded some things and shared some things but did nothing.

This is a day for action and a day to decide: Do we want life or death? Certainly Jessica wanted life. And her life, snatched so cruelly and callously, leaves us with a dilemma: Is it time to act yet? Is it time to come together? Is it time to stand, clean up and go forward?

Or are we waiting for tragedy to strike close to us directly? We are already under the shadow of death, is its icy and final touch the only thing we will respond to?

We are in the valley of decision and if we don’t choose life—we will be condemned to death. The choice is yours, mine and ours.

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