On Wednesday, Anthony Anderson, host of the NAACP Image Awards, said he wanted Empire star Jussie Smollett to win, despite the controversy over Smollett’s hate hoax. Smollett was nominated for an award in February, but at least one black leadership group has called for the NAACP to rescind the nomination following the hate hoax. As of Thursday night, the nomination has not been rescinded, to the consternation of many.
“I think what he did was bad for the culture. I don’t know what the penalty should be, but being honored for it is the worst. The NCAAP is way out of wack with this but they reflect a culture hell bent on tit for tat and revenge instead of actual justice and human rights,” Naithan Jones, a market development officer for a Silicon Valley firm, told PJ Media.
Jones insisted that the continued nomination is “an admission by certain parts of the culture that justice isn’t the goal, petty revenge is.” He went on to ask, “How is that a win? Revenge and pettiness are destructive forces not regenerative. But people are fairly stupid and refuse to think for themselves days. Much easier to indulge impulse.”
The NAACP did not respond to PJ Media’s request for comment in response to such criticism.
Hey @NAACPImageAward, @NAACP, @DerrickNAACP, how would you respond to critics who say that nominating Jussie Smollett for an award after Rahm Emanuel said his exoneration was a "whitewash of justice" is a grievous mistake on the NAACP's part?
— Tyler O'Neil (@Tyler2ONeil) March 28, 2019
In fact, the NAACP has not tweeted about Smollett since January 30.
The @NAACP tweeted about Jussie Smollett seven times on January 29 and 30. There has been nothing since. The NAACP put out a statement on its website January 29: "NAACP STATEMENT ON RACIST AND HOMOPHOBIC ATTACK ON JUSSIE SMOLLETT". There is nothing since.https://t.co/qxBmT6gH4E pic.twitter.com/71xBrtIVFq
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) March 29, 2019
As for Anderson, the awards host, he told Variety he hoped to see Smollett at the awards show on March 30. He added, “I hope he wins. I’m happy for him that the system worked for him in his favor because the system isn’t always fair, especially for people of color.”
“So I’m glad it worked out for him,” the host continued. “It’s not my place or any other person’s place to judge him or what not, but I’m glad the he’s nominated…I hope he wins because I’d be interested to hear his speech.”
Smollett continues to claim that on January 29, masked white attackers wearing MAGA hats had screamed, “This is MAGA country!” before seizing him, putting a noose around his neck, and pouring an unknown bleach-scented liquid on him.
Last month, police announced that they had turned against Smollett upon discovering evidence that suggested the Empire actor had paid Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo and his brother Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo to attack him. Unearthed evidence included receipts showing the brothers buying the rope used in the attack and a check Smollett gave them.
After police turned on Smollett, prosecutors charged him with 16 felony counts. Mysteriously on Tuesday, the prosecutors dropped all 16 counts. Smollett and his attorneys insisted he had been telling the truth from the beginning, but the police and even Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not buy it. Emanuel called the dropping of the charges a “whitewash of justice.”
The local police union called on the DOJ to investigate State’s AttorneyKim Foxx, whose office was behind the decision to drop the charges. On Thursday morning, President Trump announced a federal investigation into the Smollett case.
Earlier this month, Project 21, a prominent black leadership network, called for the NAACP to rescind the Image Award nomination. He had been nominated for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.” This is his fourth consecutive nomination for the award, and he won that award in 2017, along with three different music-related Image Awards for his work on Empire.
“Everyone has a reason to be disappointed with Jussie Smollett right now, and these accumulated reasons justify the NAACP taking swift and appropriate action to remove him from consideration for its Image Award,” Project 21 co-chairman Council Nedd II said in a statement on March 18.
“Smollett is charged with perpetrating a hate crime hoax that wasted valuable police resources and stoked racial tensions nationwide. It hurt our nation’s ability to heal its racial wounds and made the NAACP’s civil rights goals harder to achieve” Nedd II continued. “The NAACP needs to make it clear that his behavior is not OK by removing him from contention for an Image Award.”
The NAACP needs to explain itself, as does Anthony Anderson. Smollett may have been exonerated in a miscarriage of justice, but the NAACP and the Image Awards host should not honor him after what he has done. In this context, such a nomination — and the expressed hope that Smollett would win an award — cannot be separated from the hate hoax scandal.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.