Anyone that’s rocked with my blog from the beginning knows how much I love Empire, considering that the very first blog post I published was about the show. One of the things I loved about Empire is that it introduced me to Jussie Smollett aka Jamal Lyon. Jamal instantly became my favorite character on the show, and I looked forward to seeing him each week (still do, to be honest). So when I heard that Jussie was the victim of a hate crime in late Jan., I was horrified. I was especially horrified when I saw the threatening note that Jussie received before his attack:
NOTE: THE FOLLOWING IMAGE IS EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE. IT IS NOT INTENDED FOR WORK OR TO BE VIEWED AROUND CHILDREN.
We’ve all heard the story at this point: first Jussie received the hate letter, and sometime later, he was accosted by two men after leaving a Subway restaurant at 2:00 AM in Chicago. The men poured some type of chemical substance on Jussie that was believed to be bleach, wrapped a noose around his neck and before leaving they shouted, “This is MAGA country!” In all honesty, news of the attack brought me back to when Matthew Shepard was attacked by a gang of homophobic men back in 1998, and subsequently killed. That same day, I rushed to my blog and started writing about how my heart went going out to Jussie, and how I no longer recognized the world I lived in. However, in the midst of writing the article, something gave me pause, and it wasn’t just my aggravating ass sinuses. I decided to fall back for a few days.
When I first saw that picture of Jussie in the hospital, I noted that although his face appeared to be swollen, he only had one scratch under his eye. That was a minimal injury for a man that was attacked by two other men. In spite of that, I still continued to give Jussie the benefit of the doubt, thinking that he may have had other injuries that weren’t caught on camera. Then I saw other people—namely Trump supporters at this point—doubting the story, asking what the heck was Jussie doing out at 2:00 AM, and why would dudes wearing MAGA hats be waiting around in sub-zero temperatures with bleach and a noose? Although some of the other commentary they provided—which I’ll gladly omit from this post—irritated me, I had to admit to myself that they brought up some very valid points. Then, the police made it known that there was no video at all of the attack, despite the incident occurring in a well surveilled area. That started to cause the African-American and LGBTQ community to have doubts as well.
As the tide started to turn on Jussie, more and more inconsistencies began to come to light, such as Jussie initially refusing to turn over his phone records to the police, and then when he finally did, the information was redacted. Then there was the fact that he returned to his hotel room with the noose still wrapped around his neck and that the bleach that was poured on Jussie didn’t freeze, despite it being under 0ºF outside (according to multiple websites on Google, bleach freezes anywhere from 27ºF to 15ºF). I still tried to give Jussie the benefit of the doubt, remembering that he never did anything ratchet or had any real type of drama before all this, and there was no reason for him to create a lie about being assaulted.
Despite that fact, more and more people began to question Jussie’s word, and I was starting to have some doubts myself. There were just too many aspects of this case that weren’t adding up. On top of everything else, it was revealed that Jussie had a past brush with the law back in 2007. He was arrested for a DUI and claimed to be his brother—he even signed his brother’s name on the arrest warrant (R. Kelly, anyone?)! Then the ultimate happened. The actual assailants were arrested. It turns out they weren’t Caucasian racists that were all about making America great again. They were big, buff Nigerian brothers that knew Jussie personally. It turns out one of the brothers worked as an extra on Empire during the second season. To add insult to injury, the men freely admitted that Jussie hired them to attack him, paying them $3,500.00 each. When the cops raided their apartment, the evidence was damning, turning up ropes, bleach and ski masks. If that’s not bad enough, a surveillance video from a store was later brought to light, showing the brothers purchasing MAGA hats, ski masks and rope (I guess they decided not to wear the hats at the last minute).
After this last bit of news came to light, Jussie was indicted by a grand jury and officially made a suspect in his own “attack.” He surrendered himself to Chicago police and if found guilty, he could face up to 3 years in jail. Naturally, the internet found his doggone mugshot and posted it at the speed of damn light. He’s since posted his $10,000.00 bond.
This case makes me angry for many reasons. As I said previously, I wholeheartedly believed Jussie’s story at first. I mean, who would lie about being attacked? Even with the fact that the police weren’t contacted right away and his baffling story about a 2:00 AM Subway run, I still believed what he said could be true. To be honest, weirder things have happened. I hail from South Carolina, where Susan Smith drove her car into a lake to drown her two young children because…reasons. Oh yeah, and she tried to pin the blame on a black man before she was ultimately busted. When I was 12, I remember hearing the tale of Lorena Bobbit, who was so fed up with her husband’s abuse that she waited until the dead of night to slice his dick off. John Bobbit’s junk was later reattached. Just recently, in Jacksonville, FL, a man shot a woman he paid $5.00 and a can of Pringles to because the services he paid for weren’t up to his standards. Dude, you paid five bucks and a can of chips. So yeah, a man (a bachelor at that) going out late at night in colder than cold Chicago for food and getting attacked on the way back home isn’t that farfetched to me. A lot of other people didn’t think so either, seeing the outpouring of support Jussie received when the story first broke.
Now it’s come to light that this was all orchestrated. The letter was created to bring attention, and when it didn’t create the spark that was intended, Jussie allegedly decided to go bigger and better. Now all of us that were supporting him feel like damn fools. A good many Trump supporters have decided to come out of the woodwork to either holler out “See how the left is,” “I told you so,” or to swear up and down that the Make America Great Again slogan isn’t related to anything racist, and this whole thing was a conspiracy that was cooked up the evil, dirty ass Democrats.
What’s even worse is that now when a man or woman is attacked in this country for being black, gay, or both, when it’s reported the authorities and general public will look at it with a degree of skepticism, possibly going as far as to treat the real victim as a suspect.
I don’t know what the hell Jussie was thinking with this stunt. If he thought the cops were too stupid to figure out what he was doing, he was dead wrong. Creating this attack to gain attention worked, but now he’s getting attention he may not have wanted. His name has now pretty much become synonymous with “liar,” and he’s getting drug by his pretty hair by Black Twitter. Here’s just a few of the memes:
Fox released a statement saying that Jussie was not going to be written off Empire (a rumor was going around saying this attack was staged because Jussie was cut from the show), but the possibility of him being fired from the show later has increased, no doubt. Fox has already released a statement saying that he won’t be featured on the last two episodes of the season. If they cut Jamal from the show, I really don’t know if I’ll continue watching it, considering that he was always my favorite character. Hell, even if he’s not officially written off, he’ll have a mighty hard time filming the series if he’s convicted and ends up in prison. If Jussie gets off or ends up serving a lighter sentence like probation or community service, his career is dead in the water at this point anyway. People will never forgive him for this ruse, and if they—by some miracle—do, they damn sure won’t forget it.
Being completely honest, there’s still a small part of me that hopes that this is all a conspiracy and Jussie was telling the truth all along. If that were the case, I’d happily put my foot in mouth and retract my statement. But common sense and mounting evidence continue to refute that small hope. It’s just been reported that the police recovered text messages between Jussie and one of the brothers, and have an actual check for $3,500.00 in their possession. *Sigh*
I still love Jamal Lyon, and there’s a small part of me that still loves Jussie Smollett as well…but I have to give him a serious side eye for his shenanigans.
—Written by Nadiya
So what do y’all think about this whole Jussie Smollett situation? Do you think he’s innocent or guilty? Do you believe there’s enough evidence to convict him? Do you think this crime has serious repercussions for black and/or gay people? Are you still a fan of his after this? Will you tune into Empire when it returns to TV? Let me know in the comments section!