In an exclusive interview with ESSENCE Magazine, actor and R&B singer Jussie Smollett broke his silence following the homophobic and racist attack that he endured in Chicago earlier this week.
“Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” Smollett told ESSENCE. “My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly, I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words. ”
The Empire star, who plays character Jamal Lyon, was beaten by two assailants, had bleach poured on him, and had a noose placed around his neck, after leaving a Subway restaurant in the Windy City on Tuesday.
Yesterday, the “I Wanna Love You” singer’s sister, actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell released an official statement from the Smollett family on her Instagram account. “Because there’s a light in him that cannot be dimmed, because we are a family of joyful warriors, we will not let this get the best of us. Although this is a picture from happier times, this is the spirit to which we chose to move forward…they will not steal, our joy,” she wrote above the family’s statement.
“In the early hours of Tuesday morning, our beloved son and brother, Jussie, was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack. We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime. Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice. Our family thanks everyone for their prayers and the huge amount of love he has received. We are thankful to our village for your immense support during this trying time. We are so grateful that God saw him through this cowardly attack alive. Jussie is a warrior whose light cannot be dimmed,” the family stated.
“We want people to understand these targeted hate crimes are happening to our sisters, brothers and our gender non-conforming siblings, many who reside within the intersection of multiple identities, on a monthly, weekly, and sometimes even daily basis all across our country. Oftentimes ending fatally, these are inhumane acts of domestic terrorism and they should be treated as such. They will continue to occur until we hold each other accountable. Make no mistake, words matter. Hateful words lead to hateful actions. Radical love is the only solution, but passivity will be our downfall. We, as a family, will continue to work for love, equity and justice until it reigns supreme in our nation and all over the world.
With love & gratitude, The Smollett Family”
Yesterday, President Donald Trump also had something to say regarding the attack. He described the hate crime as “horrible,” and told reporters at the White House, “It doesn’t get worse, as far as I’m concerned.”
Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth.