In Depth

Anne Hathaway attacks culture of ‘white privilege’ after death of Nia Wilson

Actor posts picture of black teenager on Instagram and condemns ‘inaction’ of white Americans

Anne Hathaway has criticised ‘white privilege’ in an Instagram post about the death of black teenager Nia Wilson.

In the post, the actress urges white people to ask “how ‘decent’ are we really?” after the black teenager was stabbed along with her sister on a train in Oakland, California.

A suspect, John Lee Cowell, “was arrested in connection with the attack”, says The Guardian.

Officials said it was “unclear” if the incident was racially motivated, but before the arrest, “the murder sparked protests and activism in real life and social media, as people feared that police would once again neglect the murder of a black person in America”, says Vox.

Hathaway wrote on Instagram: “[Wilson’s death] is unspeakable and must not be met with silence … She was a black woman and she was murdered in cold blood by a white man.

“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.

“We must ask our (white)selves - how ‘decent’ are we really? Not in our intent, but in our actions? In our lack of action?”

The comments were posted alongside an image of Wilson, who was returning home from a family event when she was attacked.

“It basically happened at the snap of the fingers, at the drop of the pin,” police chief Carlos Rojas said at a news conference on Monday.

He added that it was “the most vicious” assault he had seen in his three-decade career.

“It's more reminiscent of a prison-yard assault,” Rojas said. “They do their attack so quickly that before anybody can really react, the person takes off running.”

In a statement on Monday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf “raised the subject of race in response to the killing”, says the BBC.

Schaaf said that although the attacker’s motivation is not yet known, “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”.

By using her platform to bring attention to the murder, says Vox, Hathaway “is helping address the problem many activists are focused on: that homicides with black victims often are neglected by the police and US society as a whole”.

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