Everyone should read Anne Hathaway’s tribute to murdered teen Nia Wilson

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Kayleigh Dray
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Anne Hathaway

We need “justice”, insists the Ocean’s Eight star, not “peace and prayers”.

It was a Sunday like any other: Nia Wilson and her sister, Lahtifa, were changing at a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station in Oakland, California on 22 July when a white man suddenly approached them.

With seemingly no provocation, he stabbed Nia in the neck, and wounded Lahtifa. Nia was pronounced dead at the scene.

The murder has sparked protests across America, as many expressed fears that police would, once again, neglect to respond to the death of a black person at the hands of a white man. However, law enforcement officials have since arrested John Lee Cowell, a 27-year-old with a lengthy criminal record and a history of mental health issues, for the murder.

Anne Hathaway, though, feels that more needs to be done.

Taking to Instagram, she wrote: “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.”

Addressing the social media conversation around Wilson’s death, the Ocean’s Eight actress continued: “She is not a hashtag; she was a black woman and she was murdered in cold blood by a white man.”

Most importantly, though, Hathaway has implored her followers to acknowledge their ‘white privilege’ – and do their part in addressing the issue, too.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Hathway finished her post with the hashtags: ‘#blacklivesmatter #antiracist #noexcuse #sayhername #earntherighttosayhername’; and noted that she had turned off the comments on the post.

The police working on the case have since said that they do not have any evidence that Cowell’s crime was racially motivated.

“We don’t take anything off the table,” BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas said at a press conference. “While we don’t have any facts that suggest he is connected with any white supremacist group, we are going to explore all types of possibilities and options.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf added: “Although investigators currently have no evidence to conclude that this tragedy was racially motivated or that the suspect was affiliated with any hate groups, the fact that his victims were both young African-American women stirs deep pain and palpable fear in all of us who acknowledge the reality that our country still suffers from a tragic and deeply racist history.”

For Nia’s family, though, the fact that Nia and her sister did nothing to provoke Cowell speaks volumes. Indeed, Malika Harris – one of Nia’s sister’s – has stated that the fatal attack should absolutely be classified as a hate crime., no questions asked.

“They are trying to say that he was sick and crazy,” she said, according to the New York Times. “It was an act of racism.”

We can only hope that Hathaway’s decision to shine a spotlight on Wilson’s murder (her post has already received over 300,000 likes on Instagram) will help to spark an important conversation around white privilege.

And, in doing so, that it will go some way towards putting an end to modern society’s silence around the death of black people in America. 

Image: Getty


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.