by Jonah Sachs ’20
On February 20, actor Justin “Jussie” Smollett, a gay, black Chicago resident was convicted of staging a hate crime against himself outside of his apartment nearly a month prior. Meticulously orchestrated, Smollett single-handedly soiled the credibility of minority citizens everywhere. In a “boy who cried wolf” scenario, many abused minorities are fearful for the future and their reliance on law enforcement and the general public everywhere. If no one believes them in their plea for justice, how will wrongs be corrected?
According to Smollett’s attorney, “Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement.” In actuality, however, it is now believed by law enforcement that the two men initially arrested for the attack, Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, were paid $3,500 to fake the incident. In a sudden turn of events, Smollett went from immediate victim to sneaky perpetrator. After a lengthy investigation, Smollett had received sixteen counts of felony.
Every year, over 7,000 hate crimes occur in the United States occur, and that number is on the rise. Encompassing race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender, this number does not include lawful discrimination and slurs thrown out at the combined minorities in the country. In one quick bit of acting on Smollett’s part, that number could be questioned by those who do not believe that discrimination and intolerance are persuasive enough. The actor’s actions, according to many members of the LGBTQI+ community, have soiled their image as reputable and trustworthy citizens. If one man can lie to police, who’s to say others wouldn’t try as well? Scared of what’s to come, many citizens fear the potential lack of support from law enforcement in the near future.
The icing on the cake for this sad story of hate comes from the Cook County State Attorney, who, after a lengthy trial, let Smollett off, scott-free. Many citizens are outraged with the privileges acquired by wealthy and influential people, and it seems that in a country built on the American dream, those who have succeeded are favored, leaving the less fortunate to take the fall. Smollett has soiled the good name of minority citizens everywhere, making accusations once seen as easily irrefutable and trustworthy into false statements for attention and compensation.