Jussie Smollet was attacked on the 29th of January 2019 by two men at 2 a.m. They yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him and declared that it’s a MAGA country, beat him and also tied a noose around his neck while dousing him with some fluid. Following the event, notable celebrities like Viola Davis, John Legend, Taraji P. Henson, to name a few, even took to social media to express love for the actor and condemned the racist incident.
Fast forwarding to February 2019, three weeks into the month, the actor was charged with staging the racist and homophobic attack, and to make matters even more inflammatory, the Judge presiding the case tacked up a $100,000 bail, demanded his passport and forbade him from speaking to the two arrested “criminals”.
Now, see, here’s where things get interesting. Soon after his confession, celebrities removed those supportive tweets and Instagram posts, and Empire (FOX TV) even decided to write off his character, not wanting to associate with an individual who acted so deviously because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted a career a boost – the crooked way.
The Jussie Smollet debacle is actually an eye opener to the racial politics, the racial narrative and the insane power of social media. Sure it was a hoax, sure he must have been unhappy with his salary and wanted some sympathetic votes in his corner, yes, maybe it does valorize victimhood – but do you see how the discourse of society is getting darker as days go by?
In 2018, the FBI reported an increase in hate crimes for a third consecutive year, with black people making up half of the racial victim profiles. And besides this, another unsettling matter has been brought to light, thanks to Professor Wilfred Riley of the Kentucky State University; the political science academician highlights how in the past four years, around 400 hoax crimes were reported and given more attention to than the real ones.
The bottom line? In a world as large, complex and crazy as ours, no single narrative of crime, hate or violence will contain the whole truth, and neither will it entirely be at fault. Definitely food for thought, am I right?