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On Jussie Smollett and the True Cost of His Deceit

Robert Franklin

Posted on February 21, 2019 15:39

1 user

Jussie Smollett's having lied about being attack could have some serious ramifications.

I, like many, seethed over the report that Empire actor Jussie Smollett was attacked in Chicago. I, like many, had their confidence in Smollett's version of events waver as more information came out in the aftermath. I, like many, have ultimately had to eat crow regarding this particular incident, and it is largely because I, like many, jumped the gun, clinging to the idea that President Trump's America is both indebted to and perpetuating a rise in white supremacy and a normalization of bigotry, to which actor Jussie Smollett, a black man who is also openly gay, fell victim on a cold January night in Chicago.

Now, I, like many, seethe over the reports that Jussie Smollett lied about the attack. I, like many, are disgusted over the revelation that he paid two associates $3,500 to stage it, even providing them the money to buy the rope they put around his neck. I, like many, are genuinely concerned over this incident not because of Smollett's welfare -- let the law handle it -- but because Smollett's misrepresentation and exploitation of the violence routinely administered to Black and LGBTQ communities will have a reverb effect through both and will be used as a matrix from which the justice system and other bad actors at the heart of future hate crimes can diminish their heinousness, or worse, write them off.

Hate is a hard enough thing to discuss in the United States without celebrities on hit TV shows exploiting it in anticipation of contract disputes. Americans hate discussing hate. We have a pathological issue with confronting situations where race, gender, biological sex, sexuality, or religion may play a central role. With Smollett's arrest and the revelation that he faked the whole thing -- over money, no less -- these difficult, but necessary, conversations just became unnecessarily more difficult to have.

It'll be easier for mouthpieces like Ben Shapiro, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Jordan Peterson to designate reactions to these kinds of crimes -- when they legitimately occur -- "outrage culture," diminishing the necessity of the outrage and further, diminishing the influence race, religion, and sex may have in certain crimes. It'll be easier to not believe victims than it already is. There's real potential here that Jussie Smollett's actions may have done serious harm to actual victims in maligned communities nationwide.

That's the real outrage here.

The hope now is that the damage inflicted on these communities by Smollett's reckless, deleterious actions isn't irreparable, because despite Jussie Smollett, men and women and children in Black and LGBTQ communities nationwide regularly face violence, prejudice, and undeserving hate. They're subjects of assumptions allowed to run amok between generational boundaries, recipients of the ire of majority groups because of their differences, and routinely subject to being in situations where a person's ignorance assumes a leadership role, managing the situation in such a way that it may end quickly and violently.

These men, women, and children are already without enough allies. Jussie Smollett may have just cost them more.

Robert Franklin

Posted on February 21, 2019 15:39

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Stars support Empire actor Jussie Smollet after he was the victim of a suspected hate crime.

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