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Jussie Smollett of 'Empire' Was Attacked In A Hate Crime

By Mieka Strawhorn | TV | January 29, 2019 |

By Mieka Strawhorn | TV | January 29, 2019 |


jussiesmollett2.jpg

You’ve probably already heard that today (and as it seems, most days), America hosted another vicious and brazen hate crime. In Chicago, two homophobic racists attacked Jussie Smollett early Tuesday morning. Jussie is an actor, activist, and singer. On the TV show Empire, Jussie’s character is gay. Jussie himself is gay (he came out on Ellen). Jussie is also black. Last week, a letter was sent to Jussie at Fox Studios (Empire’s home) that reportedly contained “threatening language” (euphemisms will be the death of us). Other sources were more explicit, reporting that the letter had “you will die black fag” glued on it in cut-out letters, and it was laced with a white powdery substance (believed to be crushed up Tylenol). It may have had MAGA scrawled across the envelope where the return address should be (a detail worthy of O. Henry). Jussie’s a prominent, out, gay, black man in America, and this letter’s existence is sadly unsurprising. Marginally surprising, however, is that the letter came to life, like a clay golem animated by audacity’s kiss, and attacked Jussie on the streets of Chicago.

The details of the attack are horrific. His assailants put a noose around his neck. An unknown chemical substance was poured on him (some reports have stated it was bleach). He was called a f*ggot. He was called a n*gger. The necessity of those two asterisks prove the power of those words. And as powerful as they are here, not even fully rendered, they are exponentially more powerful when said in anger. And more powerful still when accompanied by physical violence, as they so often are, here in America.

Jussie was beaten by two white men wearing ski masks. Jussie fought back. He reported that his attackers shouted “this is MAGA country” during the ordeal. Jussie was treated for a fractured rib and released from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Police (and the FBI) are investigating this as a “possible” hate crime, more commonly known as Tuesday Morning in America. This is who we are.

The bile keeps rising in my throat and my stomach has been clenched in rage all day. I’m going to take a quick break and let some of Jussie’s friends and fellow human beings speak (or in Jenifer Lewis’s case, sing) for a minute.

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I wrote this months ago. Unfortunately, it’s still as relevant as ever. This is for you, Jussie. ❤️ #ThatsEnough #JussieSmollett #SuperBowl #TakeAKnee #EndHate #Love #JeniferLewis #TheMotherOfBlackHollywood #InTheseStreets

A post shared by Jenifer Lewis (@jeniferlewisforreal) on

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I feel like I shouldn’t have to send out reminders that homophobia & racism are cowardly acts. But yet here we are in Maga Hell. I’m at a loss for words at all of this. Stunned that I’m still surprised this can still happen and keeps happening (and has never stopped happening). I’m trying hard to not make this “thoughts and prayers” meaningless like most posts about things of this nature. I wrote 10 paragraphs and erased em all & turned off the comments. Really angry about this fuckery.

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I’m angry and I’m so past exhausted. Jussie constantly radiates warmth and positivity everywhere he goes. I pray that he recovers while feeling that same warmth and positivity from all those that care about him. To the coward ass bigots who attacked this man, you fucked up in a major way. See you soon.

A post shared by Kid Fury (@kidfury) on

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I stand with you @jussiesmollett. We all do. This is America. Unfortunately.

A post shared by Lena Waithe (@lenawaithe) on

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THIS HATE CRIME against our brother @jussiesmollett is proof that no matter how famous you may be it still does not protect you from vicious racist homophobes !! AND It is still a risk daily to be a BLACK , OUT , and PROUD human being . I am sending so much love to you Jussie . Praying for your healing . Thank you for being such an inspiration to me & soooooo mannnnny people . Thank you for inspiring us to walk in our truth . Thank you for choosing freedom over fear . I will continue to walk BOLD , BLACK , & PROUD in your honor always . 🖤🌈 With love from your bi/pan/free ass mothafucka sis This pic is of me thanking him for sending flowers after the RS article (which gave me great anxiety btw). What a kind kind kind soul .

A post shared by Janelle Monáe (@janellemonae) on

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We got this @jussiesmollett 🌈👊🏾👊🏾

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I don’t need to tell you that the spin around this story has already been ugly. And until there is video proof showing the attack going down exactly as reported, we’ll all be seeing the range of lines that start with “but what about…” or “let’s not jump to any conclusions…”, or “until we have all the facts…”, or “something just doesn’t add up…”, and a never-ending stream of “well what was he wearing/doing there/saying/expecting…”. But here’s all I need to know about it: Jussie, an openly gay black man in America, was attacked by hooded racist homophobes. And it happens every day.



Mieka is a staff contributor. You can follow her on Twitter.


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