The dismissal of criminal charges against Jussie Smollett last week has split much of Black Hollywood and beyond.
The Empire star pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct charges last month after Chicago police accused him of lying about being the victim of a hate crime and filing a false police report in connection to the alleged January 29 attack.
The charges were dropped last week in a controversial move by the prosecutor’s office. Many are still unclear of what happened; especially since the case was sealed by a judge.
And nowhere was this confusion on display more than at the 2019 NAACP Image Awards held Sunday in Los Angeles, an event during which comedian Chris Rock took aim at Smollett.
“They said no Jussie Smollett jokes,” the comedian said of the actor who was absent. “I know. What a waste of light skin, you know? …What the hell was he thinking?”
Later in the show, Black-ish actress Yara Shahidi took the stage and made it known that she supported the Empire actor: “I stand with Jussie.”
Here are other celebrities who are also standing with Smollett:
Taraji P. Henson
“I’m happy that the truth has finally been set free, because I knew it all along,” Smollett’s Empire co-star said of prosecutors’ decision in an interview with USA Today. “We’re all happy for him, and thank God the truth prevailed.”
The director shared one of her previous tweets about the case that reads, “Despite the inconsistencies, I can’t blindly believe Chicago PD. The department that covered up shooting Laquan McDonald over a dozen times? That operated an off-site torture facility? That one? I’ll wait. Whatever the outcome, this won’t stop me from believing others. It can’t.”
“We are friends. As his friend, I’m just there for him. That’s all I know what to do,” Orange is the New Black star Danielle Brooks told Vanity Fair. “He’s got a whole team of people helping him and telling him what to do, and he has a whole family that loves him, and are directing him. For me and everyone else, all we can do is support him.”
She added: “I think we need to stay by his side no matter what. That’s the biggest thing. I can’t imagine what he’s gone through either way,” she said. “So we just need to support him in any way we can out of love. He needs to be loved right now. There’s a lot of hateful things being said about him, and we need to love him.”
“I hope he wins,” Black-ish Anthony Anderson also told USA Today. “I’m happy for him that the system worked for him in his favor because the system isn’t always fair, especially for people of color. So I’m glad it worked out for him.”
“It’s not my place or any other person’s place to judge him or what not, but I’m glad the he’s nominated,” the Black-ish star concluded. “I hope he wins because I’d be interested to hear his speech.”
“Being queer and Black is like having a target on your back every time you walk out the door,” Lena Waithe said in support of Smollett, “I don’t really believe