Jussie Smollett and Presumptive Guilt


Jussie Smollett

It looks like the Jussie Smollett assault may be a hoax. But everyone already knew this, right? Or did they? There’s an American tendency and major racial dynamic at play in this highly contentious matter and I think it could unify all Americans in the common cause of eliminating it. Black men are all too familiar with the American cultural tendency called the “presumption of guilt.” Jussie made a claim and both sides of America’s political spectrum, were unified in presuming guilt. However, they were not unified in who they felt was guilty. Liberals subconsciously assumed violent MAGAs assaulted a black homosexual. But MAGAs automatically assumed Jussie was guilty of lying. Perhaps it was to protect their ideology but it’s more likely a cross between that and the widely practiced American theme of presuming black people are mischievous and lack credibility.

Should the public have automatically been incredulous? Someone known and trusted claimed they were wronged. The public only had his character and words to consider however, we can’t factor out racism when it comes to the MAGA movement. Given Donald Trump’s words and past deeds, from the Central Park 5 to the Fair Housing Lawsuit that revealed evidence he refused to rent to black tenants, it is not unfair to consider that racism underpinned MAGAs’ incredulity towards Jussie’s claim. Boy did they hit the jackpot on this one! Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are now applying Jussie’s alleged misdeed retroactively, using it to cast doubt on everything from Hillary Clinton’s Uranium One deal to Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown’s death.

This brand of incredulity doesn’t work in favor of the brothas. I’ve been one of the black men immediately detained and lined up on a curb for a white person sitting behind a police car’s tinted glass to identify when they claimed assault. Police never doubted them, rather they reacted just like the liberal public did in Jussie’s claim. In my experience, the question for police wasn’t if the white person was telling the truth, rather it was which one of us black men did it. Police automatically assumed we were violent people and it is not unfair to believe, given that Trump has publicly promised to pay legal fees for those who use violence in his favor, that MAGAs can be violent. In Jussie’s case, the liberal public didn’t question his claim of violence and immediately began figuring out which Donald Trump supporters did it. This is virtually the same behavior. So maybe America as a whole can get something positive out of this.

It would be great to eliminate presumption of guilt as a whole. The words, “innocent until proven guilty” are merely a mislabeling of reality because an accusation is enough to bring guilt to anyone’s public image. I’ve been handcuffed and questioned or walked past crowds by police, virtually putting me on display as a criminal numerous times and I’m sure those who observed didn’t question my guilt. The overwhelming majority of those incidents, I was let go without charge or later beat the case. In fact, now that I think about it, the two times I have been charged with a crime there were no people to witness the arrests, which means I’ve never been sighted legitimately detained by police. In my book, To Pimp a Nation, I speak of “Obstructive Generalization,” where people that oppose your views generalize to avoid a specific point. The most common is “police shoot everybody” when the per-capita rate for black people is tremendously higher than whites. Since the Jussie matter, I’ve created new term called, “constructive generalization” where we apply a principle generally for a general solution that helps both sides of opposing views. Presumptive guilt obviously factors into public opinion and each side conveniently only raises the issue when they’re negatively affected. Let’s eliminate Presumptive guilt for the brothas in the hood and for MAGAs by emphasizing that the same public opinion injustice Jussie’s claim imposed on the MAGA movement is status quo for black men. There’s nothing constructive about forsaking details and forming opinions based on subconscious notions so let’s all use our heads more and eliminate all presumptive guilt.


A little comic relief:

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