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Van Jones on Jussie Smollett: Level of Betrayal Is Deep, ‘Shame on Him’

PAM KEY

Thursday on CNN’s “At This Hour,” network contributor Van Jones criticized actor Jussie Smollett for allegedly staging a hate crime.

Jones said, “I mean, this is the fall of an icon. I don’t think people understand how important he has been in the black community, ‘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. The fact that he has been celebrated. You see homophobia in the black community through his eyes on the show. This is a Jackie Robinson against homophobia in the black community, an icon, a beloved icon. Now you have the fall of an icon at a time when we need icons and heroes and people to stand up. The level of betrayal if this is true is so deep. You can see it in your voice and your face. It’s almost hard to get the words out because of how beloved he has been and how hurt we were when we thought he had been hurt.”

He added, “I want to just say that we still don’t know everything. And I don’t want to see us rush to judgment on this side and that side, condemn this and that. That is the thing we have talked about is that we are in the cycle where everybody has an instant complete opinion every 15 seconds. I don’t want to do that. What I do want to say is that whatever he is going through to do what he did has hurt the cause against racism and the cause against homophobia if it’s true. If there is any way that they can be redeemed, I hope it can be. 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.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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