Jussie Smollett

Reading the stories about the recent attack on Jussie Smollett in Chicago made me curious to learn more about the actor, singer, director, and photographer. I learned he stars in the television series “Empire“, which I haven’t seen, yet.

Looking on YouTube for more about Jussie and “Empire“, the first video I found was the following, of the “Empire” cast performing “Chasing the Sky”, that was written by Jussie and James David Washington. I love the title, and what a beautiful performance!

Chasing The Sky

Chasing the Sky

Open your eyes to what you love to hate
You’re up in the sky but you ain’t flying straight
Where do I go when I can’t go home?
Cause you sold it, and you lost yourself in you are just no more
Take every piece, every piece of me
Whatever you need, my mind is changing
And I can’t hide no, but you know where I’ll be
Mother
I know
I said I didn’t need it, I said I wasn’t built for it
But now that I can see it, damn right I really made it for this
Chasing the sky, trying to fly
And now I see
Just why you had to be so hard for me
You’ll hear my roar then fill your legacy
Here to the sky, no choice but to fly, so high, so high, so high
Blood is supposed to be thicker than water is
Nowadays we can’t even stomach the thought of it
It’s like we can’t even get along, who right and who in the wrong?
Too busy pointing fingers like it’s politics
I tell you shut up, you tell me be quiet, too much dysfunction
Cut up like we at a riot, kicking and punching
Ain’t nobody here to mediate it
And you would think that we wasn’t even related
Why are we even throwing blows in the first place?
We fight at cook outs, picnics and birthdays
I tried to give the benefit but in the worst case
You keep on talking smack, you end up with a hurt face
And we tried everything, it’s time for plan B
If Bloods and Crips can reconcile, why can’t we?
I guess I’m ratchet like my mama and my poppa
I’m chasing the sky and I ain’t talking ’bout the vodka, let’s fly
Far from a perfect man
The fights and the lies, I guess you never understand
A mother and father who wanted for you much more than
Life is a slight of hand, if you hate it today
I’ve a lot for you, if there’s one thing that it’s true
Going all alone, I can’t even trust all the people here inside my home
And if you were my brother, then never let it get so wrong
That you turn your back on what we were
Turn your back on me, on your family, no
I know
I said I didn’t need it, I said I wasn’t built for it
But now that I can see it, damn right I really made it for this
Chasing the sky, trying to fly
And now I see
Just why you had to be so hard for me
You’ll hear my roar then fill your legacy
Here to the sky, no choice but to fly, so high, so high, so high

Songwriters: James David Washington / Jussie Smollett
Chasing the Sky lyrics © Reservoir Media Music, BMG Platinum Songs, Fox Film Music Corp., Fox Film Music Corporation, Project Green Music Pub

I learned Jussie came out as gay during a televised interview with Ellen DeGeneres in March 2015. I’m always impressed and grateful when public figures take the chance to do that.

In a 2016 interview with Out magazine, Smollett clarified his sexual orientation by stating “If I had to label myself, I would label myself as a gay man.” However, he stated his belief that openness to love is more important than gender, revealing that “If I fall in love down the road with a woman, I’m going to love that woman.”[22] As a boy, Jussie Smollett had some romantic interest in girls.[23] When Smollett’s gay character Jamal Lyon from Empire engaged in a heterosexual tryst with a female character, Smollett defended the plot development by stating that he and Empire creator Lee Daniels were trying to create a conversation about sexual fluidity in the gay community. Daniels has stated that “Jussie and I both share the same feeling that, yes, even though we are gay, we’re sexual human beings. And we do occasionally want to sleep with a woman.” Daniels stated that “We’re showing life on Empire“, in that both he and Smollett were incorporating their own sexual fluidity as gay men into Empire.[24]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jussie_Smollett

Today’s article in USA Today discusses the use of the “noose” placed around Jussie’s neck during the attack.

Search the word “noose” in Google News and 18 pages of returns appear, most describing recent instances where the ominous and iconic hangman’s knotted rope was used to incite fear. The stories have largely remained local news.
That changed Tuesday when assailants in Chicago allegedly attacked “Empire” star Jussie Smollett, yelling racist and homophobic slurs, punching him in the face, pouring bleach on him and wrapping a rope around his neck.
Just as in the less-reported incidents, that rope carried with it a chilling and violent message, hearkening back to more than a hundred years of murder and intimidation as lynching was used to keep African-Americans from claiming their civil rights and even basic human freedoms after the end of slavery in the United States.
The symbolism of the noose has continued to be used by racists, though for a time it became less common. That appears to be changing, with an increase in racist and xenophobic attacks by people who appear emboldened since the election of President Donald Trump, say civil rights groups.
In Smollett’s case, the attackers allegedly yelled, “This is MAGA country,” an allusion to Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/01/31/attack-empire-star-jussie-smollett-shows-rise-lynching-symbolism/2719869002/

We have a lot of work to do to help stop words and acts of intolerance. A President who relishes verbally attacking and denigrating those who aren’t like him has fueled movement in the wrong direction. The “MAGA” hats seem disturbingly similar to the “Brown Shirts” of Hitler’s Germany.

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