Jussie Smollett and the Rise of Hate Crimes in America

On January 29th, Empire actor Jussie Smollett made national headlines. Not because of his singing and acting talents, but he was attacked in what the media is calling an “alleged” hate crime.

Jussie was leaving a fast food restaurant in Chicago at 2 a.m. when two men caught his attention by saying “Empire fa—t n—er.” As they beat him, they also yelled “MAGA country.” A noose was put around his neck and an unknown chemical substance was poured on him. It was also reported that eight days before the attack, Fox Studios in Chicago received a letter that was meant for Jussie reading, “You will die black f-g.”

Even though there is still an investigation going on to catch the perpetrators, the media attention has continued to die down.

[Related: A Black Woman Was Physically Attacked At McDonald’s Her Coworkers Sat And Did Nothing]

This is something that needs to be talked about constantly. Not just because it happened to Jussie but because this is happening to racial minorities, religious minorities and members of the LGBTQ+ community every day.

I think people are shocked by Jussie’s attack in particular because we see celebrities as these untouchable forces. And when things like this happen to them, we’re almost in a state of disbelief. So much disbelief, that people are questioning whether Jussie made up to the whole thing. Trump supporters seeing it as a conspiracy from the left and others saying that it might not have been a hate crime.

jussie smollett hate crime
Photo: Jussie Smollett / Instagram

And who are the people who think Jussie is making the whole thing up? MAGA supporters. The minute the story broke, Trump supporters were up in arms, saying that it was just a ploy to make them look bad. I wish I could say that I’m surprised, but I’m not. What bothers me most about their mentality is that they love to play the “innocent until proven guilty” game, unless you’re a person of color. Instead of getting mad and feeling attacked that MAGA supporters committed this crime, they should take responsibility. Understand that there are racist Trump supporters who can do things like this. If a terrorist attack is committed by someone who is Muslim, they expect the entire Muslim community to step forwards and condemn it. In fact, when a crime is done by any person of color, we’re expected to come out of the wood works, so why can’t they do the same?  I know looking at factual statistics isn’t exactly their favorite past time, but the rise in hate crimes in this country, can’t be denied

A black, gay man was called homophobic and racial slurs. He was beaten and had a noose put around his neck, and for some reason, police are still calling it an “alleged” hate crime. Jussie was attacked because of the way he looks and because of who he loves. That is exactly what a hate crime is.

This was an attack on the black community and the gay community. Those of us who have been against Trump from the beginning always knew that things like this were bound to happen but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying. Trump and those around him do nothing but spew hate. He is by no means the most intelligent person, but I think he’s smart enough to realize that words have power.

His followers idolize him, almost like they’re in a cult. His words give them the power to think it’s okay to verbally and physically harass people.

As a woman, I have always walked on eggshells. But as a black woman, ever since Trump became president, I’m even more cautious of my surroundings. Whenever attacks like this happen, I grow increasingly uneasy. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t worry about my father, my brother, and my friends. It is an anxiety that I would not wish on anybody.

It is not enough that when Trump was asked about what happened to Jussie, he said was “horrible” and that “it can’t get any worse.”

This happened because of him and the hate that he has stirred up from his campaign and presidency. (As of 2018, hate crimes have risen by 12% and that number continues to grow).

And other hate crimes have happened and will continue to happen until he finally condemns them. Sadly, I don’ think that’s ever going to come to fruition.

Jussie has since been released from the hospital, but I’m sure he has a long way to go; both physically and mentally.

It’s not enough to sit and just say that these things are horrible. We need to get up and do something because I am genuinely terrified about our future as a country.


5 People On What Gay Conversion Therapy is Like

Alysia Stevenson
Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she's not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.