In response to the May 25 killing of George Floyd and the ensuing conversation about racially-driven police brutality and structural racism in the United States, Justice Smith has delivered a timely message to his followers. The actor, known for his work in films such as Pokemon: Detective Pikachu and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, uploaded an impactful statement alongside a video from a New Orleans protest. Justice Smith's Instagram coming out as queer is as powerful as it is essential.
The 24-year-old actor posted to his Instagram account on Friday, June 5. The video shows a peaceful protest in New Orleans, Louisiana, alongside a lengthy statement from Smith, revealing that he identifies as queer and is dating Queen Sugar actor Nicholas Ashe. "@nckash and I protested today in New Orleans. We chanted ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’ ‘Black Queer Lives Matter’ ‘All Black Lives Matter,’" he began. "As a black queer man myself, I was disappointed to see certain people eager to say Black Lives Matter, but hold their tongue when Trans/Queer was added."
Smith, who also shared affectionate photos of himself and Ashe alongside the protest video, continued, "I want to reiterate this sentiment: if your revolution does not include Black Queer voices, it is anti-black. If your revolution is okay with letting black trans people like #TonyMcDade slip through the cracks in order to solely liberate black cishet men, it is anti-black," he said. Tony McDade was a Black trans man who was killed by the police in Tallahassee, Florida on Wednesday, May 27.
"You are trying to push yourself through the door of a system designed against you, and then shut the door behind you. It is in our conditioning to get as close to whiteness, straightness, maleness as we can because that’s where the power is," Smith said.
Continuing on, Smith told his followers, "If we appeal to it, maybe it’ll give us a slice. But the revolution is not about appeal. It is about demanding what should have been given to us from the beginning. What should have been given to black, queer, and trans individuals from the beginning. Which is the right to exist."
The right to exist, he said, includes both living and prospering in public with no worry, fear, or threat of persecution or violence because of identity or race. "There is so much tragedy on the timeline these last couple of days so I added some photos of me and Nic to show some #blackboyjoy #blacklove #blackqueerlove. You’ve been my rock and guiding light through all of this and I love you so much," he wrote, revealing his relationship publicly for the first time. He finished by writing, "I know that on the other side of this is change, though the fight is far from over."
Smith's passionate case for intersectionality should be a great reminder for many that the Black Lives Matter movement must be inclusive the LGBTQ community. Smith is just one of the many celebrities taking a stand with Black Lives Matter to fight for racial justice and lift their voices for a nationwide anti-racism movement.