CNN’s Van Jones was visibly upset by the news that actor Jussie Smollett allegedly staged a hate crime as a way to get paid more money in his role on the hit TV show “Empire.”
Jones began by describing Smollett’s importance as an openly gay black actor and how it has opened up more minds in the black community about LGBT issues.
“I don’t think people understand how important he has been in the black community,” Jones said. “‘Empire’ as a show — to have him as a beloved character, I think, did a great deal to knock back homophobia in the black community.”
Jones emphasized that we still need to hear Smollett’s side of events, but he warned that there would be hell to pay if the Chicago Police Department’s accusations were true.
“Whatever he is going through to do what he did has hurt the cause against racism and the cause against homophobia,” he said. “He owes those same young black gay men in that interview, he owes them not just an apology but a lifetime of atonement. Because this ain’t nothing to play with, and if he was playing with it, shame on him.”
Watch the video below.