Thursday, February 28, 2019

YouTuber Austin Fletcher took to the walkways of UCLA to ask the students at one of the most diverse student bodies in the country what they thought of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s claim that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime that Chicago police now say was an elaborate hoax initiated and paid for by Smollett.

Smollett is in legal trouble after weeks of police investigations into the alleged attack by two men wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and wandering the frigid streets of Chicago during a polar vortex in the wee hours of the morning. As Smollett made his rounds on social and traditional media to talk about what he claimed happened, Chicago police detectives began work on investigating the attack in order to bring the perpetrators to justice. And that’s where Smollett’s real problems started as police have since announced they found evidence that Smollett planned the attack.

Fletcher asks several students what they think about Smollett’s “fake hate crime.”

Students weigh in

Several said they think Smollett was trying to bring light to real problems of violence against LGBT and black people in America so his actions were somewhat admirable.

One female student argued that since there are white people who made up accusations against people of color in the past, why is Smollett’s hoax such a big deal?

Smollett in no small way diminished those who are actual victims of attacks like the one he manufactured. Smollett will forever be the face of an elaborate sexuality and race-baiting hoax. And the next national story about someone being attacked over similar issues is now more likely to get brushed off because Jussie Smollett’s lies will be top of mind.

One student even argued that America is in a race war, but offered no evidence to back up the claim. Another said Smollett’s “message was good but the execution was bad.”

Again, if Jussie Smollett is aware of injustices happening in his community, then the right and appropriate action would be for him to put his celebrity behind the victims of these injustices, not make up his own fake experience of violence.

One student distilled the issue in one phrase, “it’s the wrong way to get attention,” he says. Surely, Jussie Smollett must agree, especially now that he’s spent some time in jail and faces trial and possible prison time for allegedly trying to fake a hate crime for attention.

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