Two years ago today, America learned of the most egregious race-based attack in the sad history of our nation: the beating of Jussie Smollett.
In the early morning hours of January 29, 2019,* world-famous actor and singer Jussie Smollett was assaulted in Chicago’s upscale Streeterville neighborhood by two white men wearing MAGA hats. Which still makes sense, two years later. The men recognized Smollett from his role on the 2015-2020 FOX drama Empire, known to be popular among white nationalists. The two racists (and fans of black primetime soaps) beat up Smollett, doused him in bleach or some other caustic chemical, and tied a rope around his neck. It seemed like they went to a lot of effort to criticize the storylines on their favorite show, and it’s unclear why they were carrying the bleach and rope they used to punish the actor they stumbled upon in the middle of the night, but that’s just how insidious racial supremacy can be. You know how those white folks are!
The reaction among our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters was swift and condemnatory. The brightest lights in American media, culture, and politics joined together to make sure everybody saw them excoriate the racists who obviously committed this crime.
Many of the Democrats’ leading presidential candidates weighed in:
.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.
This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
This is a sickening and outrageous attack, and horribly, it's the latest of too many hate crimes against LGBTQ people and people of color. We are all responsible for condemning this behavior and every person who enables or normalizes it. Praying for Jussie and his family. https://t.co/eylvxhLT0u
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 29, 2019
The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I'm glad he's safe.
To those in Congress who don't feel the urgency to pass our Anti-Lynching bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime– I urge you to pay attention. https://t.co/EwXFxl5f2m
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 29, 2019
And so did Hollywood. Just listen to this harsh condemnation from noted
actress actor Ellen Elliot Page:
Still, Smollett had his doubters. A lot of people didn’t want to believe his story, no matter how much it confirmed their biases or how good it would’ve felt to go along with the crowd. As Smollett told a sympathetic and unskeptical Robin Roberts:
“I mean, who says, ‘f***** ‘Empire’ n*****, this is MAGA country,’ ties a noose around your neck and pours bleach on you? And this is just a friendly fight?… It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more. And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now… I will never be the man that this did not happen to. I am forever changed.”
Jussie will never be the man that this did not happen to, indeed. For the rest of his days, this will always have happened to him. He is innocent and blameless, and anybody who believes otherwise is clearly a racist.
The saddest part is that we may never know who really did this. Sure, there was an attempt to frame a couple of Smollett’s friends for the crime, and there was supposedly evidence that he paid the two Nigerian-American brothers $3,500. As if that somehow means he wanted them to do it. Yeah, right! And okay, yes, there are records of the two men buying the rope at a local hardware store. But that just proves how deep the rabbit hole of American whiteness goes! What, you think those racist cops wouldn’t frame a couple of black guys for a crime that was obviously committed by Nazis?
No, let me correct myself. That’s not the saddest part. The saddest part is that white America has learned nothing from it. This was a perfect opportunity for Caucasians across the land to take a good scolding for what they clearly and obviously did to a proud black man. They could’ve just shut up and allowed themselves to be chastised by Kamala and the rest. But once again, for the trillionth time, the whites have passed up a chance to be educated.
This goes out to Jussie Smollett’s real attackers, and I know you’re reading this: I hope you’re proud of yourselves. You ruined the life of a good and honest man, and you prematurely ended the run of one of our greatest TV series ever. It was mighty white of ya.
(Hat tip: Richard Harambe)
*I’ll always remember that day because I was scheduled for jury duty here in my hometown of Indianapolis, but I got out of it because the whole city government shut down that week due to the extreme cold. That’s why I was so confused that Smollett would be walking the streets of Chicago at 2 in the morning during the worst cold snap since the ’80s. It was like 20 below zero. But that just proves how much Jussie Smollett loves Subway sandwiches. They should hire him as their new spokesman! Is he really any worse than their last one?