Actress Taraji P. Henson compared Jussie Smollett’s fake hate crime sentence to the lynching of Emmett Till in a celebrity-endorsed plea for early release.
Henson, who co-starred with Smollett on the Fox show “Empire,” took to Instagram in a display of hashtag activism to make her case. Rather than argue on the merits of innocence or guilt, Henson claims Smollett is facing excessive punishment.
“I am not here to debate you on his innocence,” Henson wrote, “but we can agree that the punishment does not fit the crime.”
Henson then proceeded to compare the sentence of 150 days in jail to the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955. “Till was brutally beat and ultimately murdered because of a lie,” Henson said, “and none of the people involved with his demise spent one day in jail, even after Carolyn Bryant admitted that her claims were false.”
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Henson went on to state that “No one was hurt or killed during Jussies’s ordeal” and that his supposed inability to obtain employment since the 2019 hoax has been punishment enough.
“He can’t get a job,” Henson wrote. “No one in Hollywood will hire him and again as an artist who loves to create, that is prison.”
The levels of irony here are astounding, starting with the race-baiting argument that Smollett, who faked a crime against himself at great expense to the city of Chicago for investigation and legal fees, is somehow akin to the failure of the justice system to convict Till’s murderers before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Henson had come to Smollett’s defense in the days following the hoax in a letter requesting his return to work on the show. Henson wrote then, with co-star Terrence Howard, “It’s clearer every day that the extreme political climate in our country has only made our system of justice and the court of public opinion more unjust.”
The only extreme in the case of Smollett has been the cries of racism from those defending him for faking a hate crime, as Henson continues to do. Till was a legitimate victim. Smollett tried to make himself a victim, arguably for publicity’s sake.
Henson has jumped to claims of racism in the past including a 2015 incident where she accused the Glendale Police Department of profiling her son Marcel Johnson.
Johnson had been pulled over the year prior and Henson said it was entirely because of his race, stating, “My child has been racially profiled,” before accusing the police of “illegally” searching his car. The dashcam video was released proving the officer was entirely civil with Johnson and actually let him off for the moving violation before citing him for marijuana possession without a prescription.
In her public apology, Henson said, “Sometimes as human WE overreact without gathering all of the facts.” She apparently has yet to learn that lesson since she has continued to react to developments in Smollett’s case without consideration of all the details. The same can be said for celebrities like Gabrielle Union and Leslie Jordan who liked Henson’s post.
Smollett has reportedly been moved to the psychiatric ward of the Cook County Jail, presumably because of his outburst upon sentencing where he repeatedly declared, “I am not suicidal.” It is also possible the move was carried out to separate the high profile inmate from the general population.
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