Some people just want to hold onto the belief that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett really was the victim of a horrendous hate crime.
Actress and musician Queen Latifah appears to still believe Smollett, despite him being charged for allegedly filing a false police report. In an interview for Yahoo News’ “Through Her Eyes” program, Latifah said bluntly, “until somebody can show me some proof otherwise, I’m going with him.”
Latifah at first scoffed at the questions, saying she was “not about to discuss Jussie Smollett,” before stating that she required more proof that he was guilty.
“The guy I’ve seen has always been someone who cares about people, who cares about others, who’s very kind and who’s always been cool and sweet and that’s just the guy I know,” Latifah continued. “So, until I can see some definitive proof, which I haven’t seen yet, then, you know, I gotta go with him until I see otherwise.”
Latifah was then asked by host Zain about the racial dynamic involved in the Smollett case. The actress responded that the case started with Smollett’s accusation that two “white guys” wearing “Make America Great Again” hats attacked him, but that now she doesn’t know what to make of the situation.
“I hope, you know, everything works out in the end and, you know, everyone basically comes out unscathed,” she said.
One can respect Latifah’s hesitance to believing her friend orchestrated a hoax, but at some point the evidence has to be accepted.
Latifah said she had not seen any definitive proof that Smollett made the accusation up, but all the evidence points in that direction.
Smollett initially said two white men wearing MAGA hats physically assaulted him while yelling racial and homophobic epithets at him. They allegedly tied a “noose” around his neck and poured a chemical on him that smelled like bleach. They also allegedly yelled, “This is MAGA country.” He said the whole attack happened in Chicago at around 2 a.m. while he was returning to his friend’s apartment from a Subway restaurant.
The accusation on its face strained credulity. One would have to believe that two white men knew enough about the show “Empire” to be able to recognize Smollett and troll through the streets of Chicago during a polar vortex carrying rope and bleach hoping to recognize him or someone else to attack. It also requires the belief that at least two people in Chicago believe the city is a bastion of support for President Donald Trump (narrator: It’s not).
But the evidence against Smollett is even more damning. The two men who bought the rope and the red hats (they were not MAGA hats) and carried out the attacks were of Nigerian descent, not white. They were former associates of Smollett and told police the “Empire” actor paid them for the attack. They even produced a check for $3,500 from Smollett they say was money to pay them for staging the attack.
It’s possible, if one really wants to believe Smollett at this point, that the two former associates decided to attack Smollett for some reason after he paid them $3,500 for a “5 week Nutrition/Workout program,” as he wrote in the memo line of the check. That, too, strains credulity as nothing was stolen from Smollett during the alleged attack.
Perhaps this means Latifah believes in the presumption of innocence no matter the evidence or early reporting. That’s a healthy skepticism, but it seems unlikely in this case.