Disclaimer: I’ve written this with the understanding that this is America and Jussie Smollett still enjoys the presumption of innocence until convicted in a court of law. These are simply my thoughts in the court of public opinion based on the evidence that has been revealed thus far.
Jussie Smollett, co-star of the hit FOX TV show “Empire” has dominated national news since reporting that he was attacked by 2 masked white men dawning red hats shouting “This is MAGA country” along with racial and homophobic slurs in the wee hours of one of the coldest nights in Chicago’s history – January 29, 2019.
Jussie is an openly gay black man.
To add insult to injury, the perpetrators allegedly doused Smollett in bleach and tied a noose around his neck. Jussie self-reported the incident to police and checked himself into Northwestern Memorial Hospital for treatment of his minor injuries allegedly sustained durin the assault. A timeline of what has transpired since can be found here.
I’ve met Jussie and we’ve occupied the same space more than once over the years. I am an HIV/AIDS advocate and he’s been a trusted and faithful ambassador to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic, long before he was on anyone’s TV.
When news of his alleged assault broke, these were my initial comments shared on Facebook:
“Smh. It’s 0 degrees outside and people still have energy to be hateful and violent?!? What a world. Prayers to the good brother and forever HIV advocate Jussie Smollett.”
Since then I’ve only posted updates, and as the story began to shift from Jussie being a victim to possibly orchestrating his own attack, I began to express my disappointment ‘IF’ these leaked reports were true, but I was still holding out hope that they weren’t.
Now that my worst fears appear (he’s only been charged at this point) to have been confirmed, let me say this:
- His story never added up (ever), but I believe victims and knowing Jussie and what he has historically stood for I gave him the benefit of doubt.
- We can hold Jussie accountable and still be allies to the causes he champions and the marginalized identities he represents.
- Hate crimes against people of color and LGBTQIA+ are at an all time high in the era of MAGA; that fact doesn’t change because of one man’s possible abuse of that fact.
- The Chicago Police Department (CPD) is corrupt, especially when it comes to black men; yes. But this corruption usually rears its ugly head when CPD is implicated in the crime. CPD didnt gain anything by falsifying information in this case where police were not involved in the attack. Sometimes people are just in the wrong. This will be on Jussie and Jussie alone if he is found guilty.
- CPD (and police everywhere) should keep this same energy when white people call 911 and file false reports on unsuspecting black people just existing while black.
- CPD should also dedicate these same resources (more than 20 detectives) to solving the more than 80% of unsolved murders in Chicago.
- Not to play armchair shrink, but if Jussie’s injuries allegedly sustained during the attack were instead self-inflicted as is being reported, Jussie needs a psych evaluation.
- Even if those reports are unfounded (see 7), Jussie still might need a psych eval just because…
- If the evidence against Jussie is too much to mount a successful defense, he’ll probably plead down to a lesser misdemeanor charge and get probation, but he’s going to have to pay some restitution to the City of Chicago.
- White celebrities do stupid stuff like this all the time (see Ryan Lochte) and we celebrate them years later at the Oscars like it never happened. We also don’t jail them. Jussie is black and queer; he won’t enjoy that same kind of grace, but I hope he gets right with himself and comes back stronger than ever.