The Jussie Smollett Scandal

Naomi Boodhoo, Staff Writer

Jussie Smollett, a lead actor on the show, “Empire,” was indicted on March 8 with sixteen felony charges due to his orchestration of a hate crime victimizing himself.

Smollett filed a report to police on January 29 where he posited that he was attacked by two men in Chicago while coming back from a sandwich shop at two in the morning. Allegedly, the attackers beat Smollett and poured bleach on him, while fastening a noose around his neck, all while calling racial and homophobic slurs, and declaring, “This is MAGA country.” He was met with intense support for his supposed “experience,” until upon further police investigation of the incident, authorities began to indicate that his attackers were actually Nigerian brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who were colleagues of Smollett on the show “Empire,” and who were planning to return to Nigeria.

It later came out that a menacing letter had been sent to the “Empire” studio addressed to Smollett, containing an unknown white powder–which later was reviewed to be aspirin–on January 22, a week before the alleged attack occurred.

While this letter, various cameras, and multiple testimonies were reviewed by police, Smollett took a public stand by appearing on televised interviews, dismissing skeptics by praising how brave those victimized by hate crimes are, and expressing his political and social views as well. In the meantime, evidence began to point toward the fallacies of this event, and the thought that Smollett himself had played a part in orchestrating it. A security camera had captured the Osundairo brothers purchasing the rope at a store, which led to hypotheses that Smollett had paid them to assist him in faking his attack.

News outlets and the general population began to turn on Smollett; the initially most sympathetic individuals felt betrayed by this news. Smollett turned himself into police on February 21, though he was later released after posting his bail. These actions have led to his indictment on March 8, 2019, where he is currently pleading not guilty to sixteen criminal charges.

Why would anyone formulate their own attack? America is in a state of shock and confusion. However, it is hypothesized that Smollett used it to gain national attention toward his show, “Empire,” his music, and the shows he is playing. Clearly, the intentions were selfish no matter what drove him to take such an inconsiderate, irreversible, and radical action.

This scandal has had some serious repercussions, however. The show Smollett has been working on, has written him out of the next two seasons they were planning to film, but their ratings have already fallen drastically with the negative connotations. But more seriously, this incident will harden the toil of victims who actually suffer a legitimate hate crime–they will find themselves faced with doubts and criticism due to the selfish actions Smollett executed in order to garner attention and publicity.