Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-12-08



VIEWS Will Smollett's hoax affect public perception of hate crimes?
by Rev. Irene Monroe

This article shared 559 times since Mon Dec 13, 2021
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett was recently found guilty on five of the six counts of felony disorderly conduct for concocting an elaborate racist and homophobic assault against himself. Each Class 4 felony count can land Jussie in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Smollett's fan base, needless to say, is flummoxed. So, too, are many Americans, given how difficult it is to get justice for innocent Black men.

Smollett's hoax exploited Black trauma. Smollett testified that his assailants were white because one purportedly shouted "MAGA country"—a take on then-President Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again"—and both men allegedly put a noose around his neck.

Smollett initially received a groundswell of support, especially from Black Americans.

The investigation, however, disclosed the falsehood: Smollett knew the two men, who are Nigerian-Americans: brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo. One of the brothers appeared on the show Empire with Smollett. The rope to make the noose was bought at a nearby hardware store. The bruises on Smollett's face and body were self-inflicted. Smollett paid the two men $3,500 to stage the attack "to generate sympathetic media coverage."

Chicago police chief Eddie Johnson asked during a press conference in 2019: "Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make a false accusation?"

On Empire, Smollett played the gay character Jamal Lyon. In real life, Smollett is gay, too. How will Smollett's hoax affect public perception of hate crimes, significantly impacting people of color in the LGBTQ+ communities?

"Jussie has essentially set back the progression of both [Black] folk and the LGBTQ community all while playing right into the hands of MAGA," one online comment stated.

Trump called Smollett a "con man." On Fox News Channel's The Ingraham Angle, Trump took offense to Smollett's MAGA lie.

"He said MAGA country tried to hang him, that MAGA country was bad. And if somebody—if he were a Republican, if he were on the other side—he'd be in jail for 25 years for hate crimes."

Smollett's hoax dredges up the country's horrors of lynching and gay-bashing. Three hate crime incidents came to my mind immediately: Emmett Till, James Byrd and Matthew Shepard. Till was lynched in Money, Mississippi, in 1955; and James Byrd in Jasper, Texas, in 1998. Byrd's killing was called a "lynching-by-dragging." Shepard was gay-bashed to death in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998. In 2009, President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

From the onset, Smollett was an unreliable narrator of his attack. Nonetheless, Smollett is still seen as innocent in the eyes of many African Americans after the verdict. Despite the many inconsistencies and gaping holes in Smollett's story, communities of people of color have every reason not to trust the police findings, especially in Chicago, where Smollett's purported hate crime took place. In 2014, Chicago police covered up the shooting of Laquan McDonald. McDonald, 17, was fatally shot by a white Chicago police 16 times. The cop reported his life was in danger because McDonald was packing a small knife with a blade. However, when the police dash-cam video was released, McDonald was seen walking away when shot. These ongoing abuses by law enforcement in Black and Latinx communities are why Smollett was immediately given the benefit of the doubt.

Regrettably, Smollett's hoax may affect public perception of hate crimes—but shouldn't. We have seen a rash of white people calling the cops on Blacks. For example, when "Karens" call cops on Black people for "being Black" while sitting at Starbucks or bird-watching in Central Park, each case is handled individually, although the police might have suspicion for the true nature of the call.

I hope Smollett will fully grasp the magnitude of both his lie and crime one day. His actions dishonor Black activist Ida B. Wells' anti-lynching campaign that took afoot in the 1890s, and the National Lynching Memorial remembering the lives of men and women who were victims. In 2021, the Senate still has not passed legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime.

The belief that Smollett's actions make it bad for people of color and LGBTQs to come forth in the future with their reports of hate crimes and be believed buys too easily into the notion that "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch." Such a belief, in and of itself, is biased.

Smollett may well have suckered us all in the beginning with his hoax. However, not taking each report of a hate crime seriously would be a crime, too.

This article shared 559 times since Mon Dec 13, 2021
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Gay News

VIEWPOINT: FDA must lift discriminatory blood-donor policy 2022-01-26
- With the nation's blood supply at its lowest point in a decade, and the American Red Cross declaring its first-ever national blood crisis earlier this month, it is time for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT Who is my neighbor? 2022-01-20
- The notion of functioning as a Good Samaritan is one that transcends any particular faith tradition. The idea of humans treating humans in a humane way sounds so simple, yet history and modernity are replete with ...

Gay News

Failure to enact Freedom to Vote is a blow to vulnerable groups 2022-01-20
-- From a press release - From Kierra Johnson, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund: "The failure to enact the Freedom to Vote, John R. Lewis Act is a profound blow to our Democracy. The inability to ensure ...

Gay News

VIEWS Trans women passing the torch 2022-01-19
- I am writing this letter to the editor to compliment Windy City Times on its recent article "Passing the torch: How generations of trans women approach activism, advocacy," by Max Lubbers. The article highlights how the ...

Gay News

Two join races for state office, Personal PAC comments on threats to reproductive rights 2022-01-18
-- From a Personal PAC press release - Chicago, IL — Today, following the news that anti-choice extremists Richard Irvin and Avery Bourne would run as Republicans for governor and Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, Personal PAC President and CEO Terry Cosgrove released the following ...

Gay News

VIEWS Hoarders 2022-01-10
- One TV program that I alternately love and hate is Hoarders. The producers send a team of psychologists, organizers and laborers into a person's home and they all work (and argue) about cleaning the place up ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT For LGBTQ community, the movement behind Jan. 6 is an existential threat 2022-01-08
- The stakes could not be higher. The LGBTQ movement has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams in democratic societies worldwide. Where we have had access to freedom of speech and assembly, remarkable advances have followed. This is ...

Gay News

LETTER Continue the dialogue on racism 2022-01-08
- I am writing this letter to the editor about the article that appeared on the Windy City Times website titled "A look at Northalsted/Boystown bars since 2020 town hall on racism," written by Cris Villalonga-Vivoni. Also, ...

Gay News

LETTER Remembering Archbishop Tutu 2021-12-28
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away in Cape Town, South Africa, on Dec. 26 at the age of 90. In 1984, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts to bring about a peaceful transition to a society with ...

Gay News

VIEWS Remembering our sister-friend bell hooks 2021-12-16
- bell hooks died on Dec. 15, 2021, at 69, in Kentucky. As a Black Appalachian, bell hooks was inarguably one of the nation's prominent feminist scholars and authors, and a friend to everyone she met. Last ...

Gay News

SAVOR Sweetwater Tavern & Grille 2021-12-04
- The popular Loop spot Sweetwater Tavern & Grille—which specializes in contemporary U.S. cuisine, and which is part of the Bottleneck Management stable of restaurants—has a lot going for it. First, there are the views of the ...

Gay News

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Thanksgiving is a time to reflect 2021-11-24
- Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for a God that created us and loves us. The sins of racism, sexism, ageism and classicism are neoclassic examples of how we have fallen short. We have come ...

Gay News

VIEWS Young people need to listen to LGBTQ elders' intergenerational experiences 2021-11-20
- For one of my first Windy City Times assignments, I was lucky enough to spend nearly three hours interviewing longtime LGBTQ+-rights activist Michael O'Connor. As queer individuals living in Chicago in 2021, we had plenty in ...

Gay News

VIEWS Reporting on queers of color needs to investigate absence as much as presence 2021-11-19
- Earlier this month, I pitched a Windy City Times article that sought to explore how role playing games (RPGs), such as Dungeons & Dragons, enable queer people of color (QPOC) to explore their gender and sexuality ...

Gay News

VIEWS In defense of the word 'lesbian' 2021-11-19
- When I decided to come out to my mom, I wanted to wait until I could say the word "lesbian" out loud. But as I sat her down, I tripped over the long string of letters. "Mom, I'm gay," I blurted ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.