When the story broke of the hate crime in Chicago, I vouched for Jussie Smollett. The chances of an attack on someone’s body due to their racial and sexual identities did not surprise me. I wrote an article for The Good Men Project in defense of Smollett.
Online and in text messages, I had conversations about racism and homophobia in America. I was not the only one attempting to advocate on behalf of Smollett. Men who I follow on Instagram, including Michael Eric Dyson, Talib Kweli, and Black Thought also posted video or images to lend their support for the actor and singer.
On Thursday afternoon, the Chicago police announced the arrest of Jussie Smollett on a felony charge of filing a false police report. Reports indicate that he paid two Nigerian brothers $3500 to stage the attack. The alleged motive is that Smollett orchestrated the crime in protest of his salary for staring on the television show, Empire.
I looked up Smollett’s salary. According to one resource, he receives between $65,000 and $100,000 per episode. No, he is not getting compensated as much as costars Taraji P. Henson or Terrence Howard, but $65,000 per episode is not bad. I don’t think I would mind that paycheck!
If indeed Smollett pulled this hoax, I cannot justify the reported motive. To exploit racial and sexual orientation politics, for money brings his character as a human being into question.
None of us are perfect. I am not placing judgment on Smollett. But it is important that we live lives full of integrity.
If convicted, Smollett’s career will suffer. I believe studio houses will disassociate themselves with him due to concerns about his honesty. We’ve seen the careers of countless celebrities end for similar and worse crimes.
If tried and found guilty, it will take a tremendous amount of effort to repair his image. He will need to participate in community service projects. Multiple television and other public appearances to explain his actions will be mandatory.
Jussie Smollett will not have to answer to me, but if provided with the opportunity to talk with him, I would begin with one question. Why, Jussie, why?
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