The NAACP Image Awards were held this weekend in LA. Sites like TMZ were making a big deal about how Jussie Smollett was nominated for an Image Award (the nominations came out before the likely-staged “attack”) and how Jussie flew from Chicago to LA to attend the awards. Jussie never showed up at the show, which means he either backed out at the last minute, or he was never planning on attending in the first place (and he just wanted to get out of Chicago). In any case, Jussie didn’t win the Image Award for supporting TV actor, and he didn’t show up at the non-televised Friday event nor did he come to the televised Saturday night event.
The host of the Image Awards was actually Anthony Anderson, who seemed to avoid talking about Jussie on-stage (I’m just going from reporting). Anderson did speak about Jussie ahead of the show, telling Variety that he hoped Jussie would attend and that “I’m happy for him that the system worked for him in his favor because the system isn’t always fair, especially for people of color.” It seems like the producers of the Image Awards told Anderson and others not to make jokes about the Jussie situation, but Chris Rock – who was a presenter – decided to go off-script.
— TV One (@tvonetv) March 31, 2019
Rock said: “They said no Jussie Smollett jokes. I know. What a waste of light skin. You know what I could do with that light skin? That curly hair? My career would be out of here. F—ing running Hollywood. What the hell was he thinking? From now on, you’re Jessie from now on. You don’t even get the ‘U’ no more. That ‘U’ was respect. You don’t get no respect from me.”
I mean… I’m not African-American. I’m not going to police what Rock says or how the African-American community feels about the entire Jussie Smollett debacle. I suspect that many black people feel the same way as non-black people: that it’s a complicated situation, that Jussie probably had a hand in staging the assault, but that the police completely overstepped and f–ked up the investigation. All in all, I didn’t think Chris Rock was even going hard after Jussie – those jokes were pretty mild considering all of the jokes that could have been made, you know? But people still had feelings about all of it, especially given that Rock appeared in a 2011 video – which went viral a few months ago – where he laughed when Ricky Gervais and Louis CK were using the n-word. So, yeah, people brought that up too:
Chris Rock lets white folk use the n-word in his presence if you’re wondering where he draws lines https://t.co/hqXJAeUGx3
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) March 31, 2019
Remember when Chris Rock let white men say the N word in his presence and he laughed? https://t.co/aH7jM93MFs
— valerie complex (@ValerieComplex) March 31, 2019
There’s always a lot of talk about Cancel Culture and when people should be canceled and who deserves to be ignored. I still maintain that none of this is my fight or my place to chime in, nor is it the fight of any white or brown person. All of this is part of an internal conversation in the black community. It’s about the n-word, it’s about Jussie Smollett, it’s about a lot of things.
Photos courtesy of Getty.