• Tyierra R. Henderson

Don’t Dare Blame Jussie Smollett When You Don’t Believe Hate-Crime Victims

Updated: Jan 29


Recently, Chicago police released their investigative videos, over 70 hours of film, of the allegedly staged racial and homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett. The Empire star claimed that he was the target in a vicious hate crime in Streeterville, Chicago on January 29th, 2019. With it being in the late hours, there were no witnesses to the two men who supposedly physically attacked him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs. They then threw a liquid, suspected to be bleach, on Smollett and worst placed a noose around his neck.


Police bodycam video show officers inside Jussie’s apartment with the rope still around is neck. After the police asked if he wanted to remove the rope and he did, the actor request that the bodycams be turned off. Since, the dramatic footage, evidence came to light pointing to the attack possibly being completely orchestrated by Jussie himself to include a check written out to his supposed attackers! What were you thinking Jussie?


Currently, all charges against Smollett have been dropped in exchange for forfeiture of his $10,000 bond and community service. However, an investigation is now open on how it was so easy for the Cook County State Attorney, Kim Foxx, to drop all charges against Smollett.


Now, months later, dirt is still being kicked up about the story, and people are still worried that Jussie’s lies may cause irreversible harm to the Black and LGBTQ+ communities. There is even evidence that he walked right by his attackers before the infamous events. I, like so many others apart of both communities, wanted to believe what had happen to Jussie. We wanted to believe the self-proclaimed “gay Tupac” really did have to endure the dark consequences of being homosexual and African- American in the US today. But there were too many disconnects.


I personally wanted to believe him and tried to persuade myself to trust that two MAGA hate wearing goons were walking around Chicago in 10-degree weather at two in the morning with bleach and a noose waiting for a black actor on a primarily black TV show that they (as being obvious racists and homophobic people) easily recognized by show title and real name even though he was in thick outerwear because of the weather and he keeping on the rope until the police asked if he wanted to remove it. I wanted to believe him. We all did.


Now, fear is in the air that genuine victims will have it even harder from those who dismiss prejudice in America as “just another Jussie Smollett case.” Here is the secret that we can’t forget. Anyone who is willing to dismiss someone’s experience with sexual and racial preconception to it probably being a fake for views and likes, does not need Smollett as the scapegoat. They’ve always thought that way.


None of us really know what happened to Smollett or why he would say and do what he did and of course we should not excuse it by any means. However, no one should use this one account as an excuse to dismiss all malicious hate crimes. Believing those of black or LGBTQ+ communities less in the name of Smollett is the opposite of what our country needs to do. More often than you would believe, people aren’t trusted in cases that include them being attacked and tormented because of their race or sexual preferences.


We focused so much on Jessie’s case but forgot that real cases like the fatal shooting of a 23-year-old transgender woman in May of 2019 occurred. Muhlaysia Booker seen on a video being beaten in front of a crowd of people just a month before. Or do we want stories like the death of 17-year-old transgender Gwen Araujo to continuously get pushed aside and go unpunished because we THINK the victim is a liar like Jussie? Who remembers their stories or even their names?


Now, we may fear that the lies of one gay black man will be used as that account of why hate crimes in our community continue to be overlooked! I think Smollett has become an overall distraction to the facts that no matter your race, gender, or sexual preferences the truth and pains someone endures will now be questionable. I’d hope that instead we would put ourselves in the victims shoes before trying to point out their lies.