I’m still questioning the notion of our so-called post-racial society after hearing about a white businessman who confronted a prominent Chicago judge – a 79-year-old Black woman, called her “Rosa Parks,” spit on her, and then slapped her in the face.
This is an unconscionable act. It’s racist and disrespectful, yes, but it also speaks to a deliberate disregard for human decency – and a reckless disregard for Black women. I am outraged, but sadly, I’m not surprised. While there are many sincere, well-intentioned white folks in America – some of whom I consider friends – there are far too many bigots who are taking us backward in time when it was commonplace to disrespect and murder Blacks without fear of repercussions.
The victim was Cook County Judge Arnette Hubbard, an esteemed African-American jurist and the first female president of the National Bar Association and Cook County Bar Association. The perpetrator was David C. Nicosia, 55, (pictured) a white businessman, who became enraged because Hubbard was smoking a cigarette outside the Daley Center and apparently the smoke was bothering him.
So instead of just walking away, Nicosia argues with Hubbard and within minutes, he attacks her. “Rosa Parks, move,” Nicosia shouted at Hubbard. He then spit on her. And as Hubbard called out for help, Nicosia slapped her in the face with an open hand. Imagine if Hubbard had been your mother, or grandmother, or sister, or aunt? How would you react? Nicosia is also ignorant.
He called Hubbard “Rosa Parks” as if that was an insult. I suspect Nicosia doesn’t know much about Rosa Parks or black history and that Rosa Parks was the only black reference Nicosia could draw on during his racist outburst.
Nicosia felt it was completely appropriate to assault and disrespect Hubbard because she was Black. This is not just my interpretation of the situation, because Nicosia was arrested and charged with four counts of aggravated battery — and a hate crime. I hope Nicosia gets the maximum jail time allowed under the law.
There are 23 hate groups in Illinois. Since 2000, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups has increased by 56 percent. I’m not suggesting that Nicosia is associated with a hate group, but I am saying that hate groups are part of an insidious and racist culture that gives people like Nicosia a license to assault black people with impunity. Black people like Hubbard.
“She’s an icon in our community,” Delores Robinson, past president of the Cook County Bar Association, told The Chicago Tribune. Robinson added that Hubbard was a former commissioner on the Cook County Board of Elections and also served as an international election observer in Haiti and South Africa and has been an outspoken advocate on civil rights and women’s issues.
Hubbard, who was born in Arkansas, graduated from Southern Illinois University and John Marshall Law School and began her legal career in 1969 working on civil rights cases, according to online biographies. She was appointed to the bench in 1997.
“People of good common sense and decency, people of good hearts should be outraged by this,” Robinson said. Add my name to the list of outraged citizens. What do you think?