In 2015, the Charleston church shooting was a hate crime against the black community that killed nine people.
Just two years later, in 2016, the Pulse nightclub shooting, a hate crime against the LGBTQ+ community, killed 49 people.
To this day, racism and homophobia are two issues that are still very much alive and more common than we think.
On Jan 29, news broke that Empire actor, Jussie Smollett, was the victim of a heinous, homophobic and racially motivated hate crime. With a noose around his neck and bleach poured on his skin, Smollett claimed to be beaten and called slurs. The details of the crime were so dark and disturbing that it seemed like everyone was showing their love and support for the actor.
As the weeks have gone by, there have been twists and turns in the case that prove Smollett staged this hate crime to further his acting career.
Smollett was arrested for falsifying a police report on Feb. 20. On Mar. 8, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts by a grand jury.
This revelation has been a shock to many and has, rightfully so, ignited outrage.
What Jussie did is despicable and there is no way to excuse his behavior. But what has resulted from this is more conservatives and liberals attacking each other.
One search on twitter and you can see each side taking this case and using it to make the other look bad.
Can everyone just put their political affiliations aside and think about the real victims here?
The fact of the matter is, the only victims that suffer from this hoax are queer people of color.
As horrible as it is, hate crimes happen. None of them have gotten nearly as much coverage as Smollett’s “attack” did. This hoax gives people the opportunity to discredit other victims and survivors of hate crimes.
People are going to use this incident as an example to justify their victim blaming.
It is important to note why we were all so quick to believe Smollett. With the current political climate, the idea that someone was a victim of a hate crime is not a far fetched idea. We live in such a hateful time where people are more open than they have been in recent years to share their discriminatory opinions.
In 2017, the FBI released statistics that showed hate crimes have gone up 17%. Their analysis showed that the LGBTQ+ community is the most targeted group for hate crimes and the black community come in second.
What Smollett did was take advantage of a very realistic fear.
In the era where the #MeToo movement encourages all of us to believe in victims, what Smollett did was reverse the progress that has been made.
We need to remember that queer people of color have to live life not knowing if they are going to face discrimination, or be attacked simply for existing.
It is more important than ever to support these marginalized groups. One lie does not represent the entire community. As allies, it is our duty to not let their decades of struggle and fight be discredited.
Smollett’s hate crime was a hoax, but the violence these communities face is not.