Off The Beat w/ Marc Lacy: Jussie Smollett & The Landscape For Hate Crime Awareness

Photo Credit: Variety

Now that we’ve witnessed the hubbub surrounding the Jussie Smollett case in Chicago,
mass uncertainty is now permeating through the hate crime awareness and prevention
universe. First and foremost, I cannot place Mr. Smollett in Heaven or hell. So, this is
no attempt to judge him, per se. However, anything that anyone reads on the internet
can come off as judgmental; especially if the verbiage is not necessarily “uplifting” the
subject.

Secondly, everyone is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. However,
we all know with the prevalence of social media, court has pretty much already been
held. One thing’s for certain, hate crimes are horrible, atrocious, and all perpetrators need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. However, should one stage a hate crime, to me, it seems like a slap in the face to true victims and their families after having dealt with the serious torment and sometimes permanent scarring from the real deal.

I’m not sure what happened in Smollett’s case. But I do know the so-called “post-
crime” actions from him and the other participants/assailants were not normal. Of course, anytime these abnormalities occur to the extent to which they have in this case,
many an eyebrow will be raised out of suspicion.
So why would the Smollett case be used to cast doubt on certain alleged hate crimes going forward? Well, I’ll tell you why.

Nowadays, it’s nothing for something to go viral, whether its content is factual or not. The fact that it went viral seems to hold more merit than the level of integrity contained within. With the hyper-paced news cycle, people are more apt to believe something that gets played over and over again because there’s an underlying notion that “there must be some truth to it.” So, all it would take is another real and unfortunate story of a hate crime to hit the airwaves and people will instantly reply with a Smollett meme…thus delegitimizing the accusation.

Of course, if this is the case, the subject stands to get no love in the court of public opinion. And even if they win their case, they will ask themselves if a victory in court is worth receiving hate and getting trolled. Folks will make comparisons to the boy who cried wolf. The rule of law is still valid, however, “death by social media” can have more of a
significant impact.

What will happen in communities like Atlanta and San Francisco (with a large
LGBTQ population) when/if unfortunate hate crimes are reported? What will happen in communities like Detroit, Birmingham, and Washington D.C. (with a large African-
American population) when/if awful hate crimes are reported? Trust, it’s not just limited to the aforementioned cities, lifestyles, and race. Will it take just one doubter responding to a tweet that can potentially remove all of the wind from the sail?

Also, what if true hate-crime perpetrators/plotters get newfound energy to commit these heinous acts because they realize a video or tweet from a conspiracy theorist is getting more attention now than ever before due to the Smollett incident? We are living in an era now in which people can question hard facts with hard “what-aboutisms” and it be
legit…for some reason.

All one has to do is cast doubt for a long enough period of time,
and somebody is going to be sold on the fact that what they are seeing with their own eyes, is not being seen…with their own eyes. This is why the whole Smollett ordeal,
regardless of the outcome, is being used as a weapon for doubters.
How do we mitigate the new energy from hate crime doubters? In my humble opinion, regardless of the age of spin, there is no substitute for truth and facts.

Yes, politics and social media have been tainted with the “I’m going to believe what I want to believe” attitude. However, the law is the law. I think the perception is more powerful now as it has a strong ally in social media content. However, there are enough good and conscious people out there who will not stand for a lie to have life, regardless of the direction from whence it may come.

If you are God-fearing and believe in “good,” then now’s your perfect opportunity to use your faith, for “good.” Each and every individual has to take it upon themselves to be an ambassador for truth, regardless of pressure from those who don’t want to believe it. We have to be willing to admonish those (even in our own corner) who do not want to recognize the truth. If your foundation stands on goodness, you are not going to stand for anything opposite of it. Even if nobody around you is acknowledging the truth, YOU HAVE TO REPRESENT IT AS IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDED ON IT. With that said, it is my prayer that victims of hate and all crimes get proper justice…and that people will stay away from any form of misrepresentation of hate crimes.

Catch up with Marc on Instagram.

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