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The whitewashing of Jussie Smollett

Was he guilty? Or just a jackass? 

March 27, 2019

5:01 AM

27 March 2019

5:01 AM

Justice is blind. But, as it turns out, she’s not unwilling to negotiate. If it buys her some silence, she’ll play ball.

Yesterday, Jussie Smollett was exonerated by the District Attorney for the state of Chicago. Like Trump, the celebrity victim has been cleared of all charges, though not cleared of wrongdoing. Whatever that means. Dead or alive? It’s Schrödinger’s cat.

No one knows what to say exactly because the truth may be too damaging. After all, who knows what happens when you jail a young black gay celebrity? How much abuse would he endure? And if they do kill him, what will happen to our prison system? How much will all of this cost? Oh Jesus, make it go away!

Or that’s what I figure happened. Closed doors won’t answer. But let’s say he didn’t fake that hate crime against himself, like the police said he did. Smollett goes to trial and evidence is presented that clears his name. He would be a superstar! Wagnerian music would announce his entrance on private planes in international airports. His social media saga of victim to villain to conquering hero would surely make the rounds of all the daily talk shows all around the world. What a coup! Why on earth would a celebrity who seems so impassioned about social justice deny himself his day in court? Especially when he continues to claim his innocence?

‘Whatever. I’m sure the death threats were an issue,’ wrote a pithy friend on Facebook. And then a fight broke out between me and a black gay guy, who said I was privileged and therefore couldn’t understand, so I in turn called him pathetic. We were on opposite sides of an ideological battle whose outcome was dictated by fiat. Right or wrong, neither of us were the wiser. As a white woman, I clearly had no value in this debate so I might as well shut up about it and listen to him call the DA of Chicago an idiot and say how the Chicago police department lies on a daily basis. I reminded him that the DA was the idiot who let his boy go, so he decided to un-friend me.

Minorities are against the wall for this fallen hero. I get it. It’s complicated. Catch-22. Rock and a hard place type stuff. After all, the actions of one jackass are not characteristic of a community’s strength or political need, so it does nothing for minorities to demand an explanation in what is clearly ‘a whitewashing’, to borrow a phrase. But I remember earlier when Smollett was first found to be a moron, guilty of staging his own hate crime, and a talented activist friend of mine recounted the time when Smollett came to visit the LGBTQ+ community center he works for, took a selfie with some kids and vanished. He sounded odious and it seemed to beleaguer my friend who was working so hard for so long on so little and whose warrior status was a fraction of this self-interested poseur’s. I asked him about it after all this, but he wouldn’t comment either way. How could he? When heroes turn out to be liars, what is there left to say?

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