Mr. Caughman was a 66-year-old man living in a hotel-turned-shelter in NYC. He collected cans for a living, touted himself as a good business man, and wanted to visit California someday. He loved this country and took pride in it. All this, gleaned from his twitter, hit me deep in my heart. This was a man who liked seeing movies, collecting autographs, and just spending time with people (especially celebrities he met on the street). Please read more about his life here. He is worth it and we have a responsibility to know who he was. This man, who was described by those who knew him as gracious and respectful, was brutally murdered by a white supremacist with a terrifying agenda.
James Jackson, a 28-year-old white man from Baltimore, stabbed Mr. Caughman with a sword as part of his mission to murder as many black people as possible. He plunged the sword into Caughman’s body as Caughman reportedly begged for an explanation as to why this was happening to him. Jackson would later tell police that he has hated black men all his life, especially those who date white women; this hatred inspired what he hoped would be a killing spree. This act of terrorism is a direct result of what DJT has emboldened in this country. As a matter of fact, he has encouraged it. The underbelly of bigotry and racism has moved into the mainstream and Caughman’s life was stolen as a result.
This is the exact kind of thing that reaffirms for me those feelings of disappointment and fear I felt just after the election. It rekindles that fire of desperation in my belly as I wonder how I am going to protect my little brothers. It exacerbates that raw anger I have towards people who made a choice that has resulted in so much hate, and now, murder. I truly believe that the rhetoric from Trump and other white nationalists is what has resulted in Caughman’s death and the plethora of other hate crimes that have been happening all over the nation. I truly believe that if you chose to cosign this, whether actively or passively, then you are personally responsible. I look at photos of Jackson, I look at the hatred in his eyes, and I realize that this is who 63 million people chose to lock arms with. I don’t care that they say they’re not like him… because I don’t believe that not being like him is enough. You have to stand AGAINST him. And by standing with Trump, you stood with all the James Jacksons of the world. There’s no getting away from that.
Timothy Caughman could have been my grandfather, walking home late one night. Timothy Caughman could have been my daddy walking to dinner with his girlfriend. Timothy Caughman could have been my brothers or uncles or cousins. And like Timothy Caughman, the nation would ignore them. The nation would choose to call them criminals, rather than a victim of an act of radical right white terrorism. The president would neglect to mention his name, all while remembering white Americans lost in other attacks around the globe.
I am disgusted. I am terrified. I am fuming and ready for a fight. Trump needs to acknowledge Caughman. Trump needs to acknowledge his role in the continuously burgeoning movement against people of color that has found new solace under his administration. I know that he won’t. I know that his followers will still try and claim innocence when it comes to the blood on their hands. But we cannot let them do this in comfort. We must continuously call them out for what they are. We must continuously have the hard conversations and push them to see what their choice has done to people of color. We must be loud and we must be consistent.
I remember protesting at the inauguration and listening to his supporters beg the cops to help them find a place where they would be free from our words. That’s what I want their daily existence to be like. Caughman deserves justice. And every James Jackson across this nation needs to know that he doesn’t belong here. This country is not his. And we are going to put up one hell of a fight if this shit keeps up.