Why We All Need To Stop Reacting To Things Too Quickly

In the past couple weeks, there has been a media frenzy around Empire actor Jussie Smollett. On January 29th, Jussie was allegedly walking down the street at around 2:00 AM when he was attacked by two men. Smollett claimed the men poured bleach on him, yelled homophobic and racist comments at him, then proceeded to put a noose around his neck. With some news outlets reporting that the attackers screamed “MAGA country” at Smollett, which seemed to emphasize the political and racial divide in the U.S.

 

Outrage poured out after the attack, with celebrities and politicians alike commenting on the horrible nature of the crime. John Legend, Margaret Cho, Empire co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong all tweeted condemning the attack. When I heard about the attack I was concerned and disappointed that we still live in a world where hate crimes, similar to those inflicted during the Jim Crow era, were still occurring. I, like others, felt empathy for Jussie because no one should have to go through such a horrible attack.

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However, soon after there was speculation that the whole attack was staged by Smollett, news outlets claimed that Jussie had paid two of his former Empire co-stars to carry out the attack on him. This seemed like there was a tug-of-war between claims that the attack was staged and claims that Jussie was a being victimized.. In a time where “fake news” is abundant, it was hard for me to tell which side of the story was true. I resorted to ignoring all other media sources and only read the reports put out by the Chicago Police Department handling the case. Singer Cardi B was quick to put out a video condemning Jussie for allegedly orchestrating the attack, however, there was still not sufficient evidence at this time to prove that this allegation was true.

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We as people have the tendency to react to things without proper fact-checking. This has been prevalent recently with stories like the video of the teenage boy confronting an elderly Native American man. There was outrage towards the teen, however, it was soon revealed that the whole news story was misconstrued. It is in our nature as humans to seek out information that supports our ideas and views, while ignoring information that challenges our beliefs. With news stories coming out at a rapid rate, thanks to the internet, it is easy to trust that news sources are going to be factual. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, which is why it is even more important that we take the reliability and credibility of news outlets in consideration before we react too quickly. In the case of Jussie Smollett, I wanted to believe that he really was telling the truth about the attack, but it was announced he was arrested early morning in connection to the  January 29th attack. Chicago Police Superintendent, Eddie Johnson denounced Smollett’s actions. While it is still unclear whether the allegations against Smollett are true, anyone willing to exploit the racial divide in this country for their own benefit further discredit any future hate crimes committed.