Let’s talk about Jussie Smollett and the mess that is the reporting of the racist and homophobic attack in January.
When reports of the attack happened with Smollett ending up in hospital, many celebrities and the LGBTQI+ community showed their support for the Empire actor on social media.
As the weeks went on, however, the story took a turn for the weird after the Chicago police department started investigating the incident. Unnamed sources claimed the attack was staged.
Another source claimed that Smollett sent himself the letter that said: “You will die black f*g”. The FBI later stated that they couldn’t confirm nor deny that he sent it to himself, but the Chicago police claimed that Smollett staged the attack to up his Empire fee.
It hits close to home, being a queer person of colour myself. As the news developed I grew more and more frustrated with the carelessness with which misinformation was being distributed. When it comes to hate crimes, black people in America are always targeted, not to mention homophobia on top of that.
The thing that people don’t understand about reckless reporting is that it gives victim-blamers more ammo. It gives those victim-blamers more reason to discredit hate crime victims.
Whether Smollett is lying or telling the truth at this stage should not be the main concern. He is rich, famous and attractive and can use these attributes to shield him for the most part from daily harassment faced by normal QPOC (queer people of colour).
Trans women especially come off the worst and there are stories daily about a different trans woman being killed in hate crime-related attacks.
It’s also quite suspicious that the Chicago police processed Smollett’s case so quickly while they dragged their feet when it came to R. Kelly, who was only recently arrested in Chicago for 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, some involving minors.
I believe this is to be a clear indication of underlining homophobia and the fact they are unable to stop information from leaking to the public is alarming.
I really hope that Smollett is not lying and is telling the truth, purely so that people who have been looking for an example of people lying about racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic attacks can’t point to this scenario, since it will only make it harder for these disenfranchised victims to come forward without being ridiculed by those who think they are not telling the truth.