A few weeks ago, a group of white teenagers piled into a couple of cars and drove from Brandon, MS to Jackson, MS with one mission: to find the first Black person they could and kill him.
After pulling off of I-20 on the first exit in the city, they saw James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old auto plant worker and savagely beat him. After he stumbled out of the hotel parking lot they found him in, the teens ran Anderson over with their pickup truck, killing him instantly. While all of this happened a few weeks ago, the incident has reached national prominence in the last day or so after it surveillance footage of the attack hit CNN.
The scenes are chilling.
Even more disturbing for me is the fact that the murder happened across the street from my church and five minutes away from where I grew up in West Jackson. And once again, my hometown is looked at as the city where Jim Crow still exists and we pick cotton off of every street corner before trying to run away from a lynching.
I hate that James Anderson lost his life, especially in the manner he did. And I hate it more that all of this happened in Jackson. It’s easier for the country to see this happen in Mississippi. Things like this are supposed to happen in Jackson. Ninety high school kids are supposed get shot in the southside of Chicago. But it’s an epidemic when a dozen or so die in a cozy Colorado town.
When a hate crime occurs in a state like Mississippi, it’s easy for the country to compartmentalize it as just another instance of that good ol’ Haley Barbour racism. But what do we call it when a kid gets killed by police in California or shot by cops in Chicago?
What happened to Anderson wasn’t a Southern problem. It was an overall societal problem. The kids were only 18, which means there is a new generation of racism that is manifesting itself in teenagers. Contrary to popular opinion, this isn’t par for the course in any state.
Watch the throne. Watch the stocks. Watch whatever. But don’t look at the video of hate crime in America and choose not to watch it closely.