Jussie Smollett’s hateful hate crime claim

Amanda Pyle, R2 News Editor

On Jan. 29, openly gay Hollywood actor Jussie Smollett filed a police report claiming he was the victim of a hate-crime attack. Soon after this news broke, people from across the country unleashed their support for Smollett and began to talk about the epidemic of hate crimes against minorities in America.

On Feb. 21 however, the story changed. Smollett was arrested and charged for allegedly filing a false police report that claimed he was attacked by two men.

Suspicions of the falsified report first arose when he refused to share his phone records from the alleged evening with the police, which would have proved that he was on the phone with his manager when the two men attacked him. Later, the two perpetrators were identified as  Nigerian brothers and brought in for questioning where it was revealed that at least one of them worked on the TV show Empire with Smollett.

According to the Chicago Police Department, Smollett sent himself a letter containing racist remarks and then later paid the men $3,500 to carry out the attack against him. The brothers went on to verify that they were in fact paid that money to stage the fake attack against Smollett.

If Smollett is found guilty of lying about this attack, it would be disheartening for this country. The purpose of his lying is still unclear, however, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson believes it correlates to Smollett’s unhappiness with his salary on Empire.

Johnson said in a news conference on Feb. 14, “This announcement today recognizes that Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”

By filing this false claim, Smollett used his race and sexuality to take advantage of the epidemic of hate crimes in this country. By doing this, he is demeaning the true horror of the violence that minorities face on a daily basis. The fact that Smollett would lie about having bleach thrown on him and a noose hung around his neck, in order to further his career, is despicable.

Hate crimes are not a topic celebrities can—or should—capitalize on to try and further their careers. This sad excuse of an attempt at a publicity stunt undermines the true severity of genuine hate crimes.  Hate crimes in America have increased by 17 percent between 2016 and 2017, with 7,175 reports about crimes based on race, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, and disability happening in 2017, according to recent data released by the FBI.

This disgusting incident must not take away from the very real, endemic violence that people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and other minority communities encounter every single day, and Americans must continue to strive towards fostering a more loving and accepting society.