On Tuesday evening, Kevin Hart joined the ranks of celebrities who are sending love and prayers on social media to Fox’s Empire star Jussie Smollett. Earlier this week, Smollett was the victim of a reported physical homophobic and racist attack. Since his hospitalization, several fellow stars, including Hart, have spoken out against the crime. Hart’s message is being rejected by many social media users, though, given the comedian’s previous controversy involving homophobic jokes.
Hart initially shared a photo of Smollett on Instagram and penned a message about spreading love in the world.
“Sending prayers your way @jussiesmollett….This is unbelievably sad. Why are we going backwards….this is disgusting. We as people have to do better,” the Night School actor wrote. “Why are we falling in love with hate?…Choose love…I will forever choose love and I will continue to teach my kids how to do the same. Stand strong brother.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Hart continued his message by saying he does not condone hate and he is starting “operation love.”
“Hate makes me sick to my stomach…it’s pointless,” he wrote, adding that only “cowards” embrace hate.
Hart has since faced backlash for his posts. Just last month, the comedian stepped down from hosting the Oscars when a series of homophobic tweets and stand-up jokes that he penned years ago resurfaced. He later apologized for his actions. Now, followers are citing Smollett’s attack as a reason why Hart’s homophobic jokes were often controversial, according to People.
OMG!! THIS is why the LGBTQ community continue to fight to be seen and PROTECTED against hate!— Viola Davis (@violadavis) January 29, 2019
We ALL have to take this racist and homophobic act of violence very personally! My arms are around you @jussiesmollett. You are loved! https://t.co/bprDZ3Luah
“This is why someone’s jokes about beating their gay son were never funny,” TV writer Ira Madison III wrote on Twitter.
Many users responded to Hart’s prayers for Smollett with critical GIFs, while one told the comedian to “keep your tears and prayers.”
Another person referenced Kevin Hart’s interview with Ellen DeGeneres where the talk show host admitted that she stood by the comedian amid the Oscars controversy. They wrote that the attackers will likely “score” an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and possibly engage in a roundtable discussion on the matter with Hart, Us Weekly reported.
There were also several users that jumped to Hart’s defense, pointing out that he did apologize for the controversy.
“Why not forgive? Is it now that Kevin isn’t entitled to feel pain for the suffering of another black man like him?” one person wrote, adding that Hart has already taken accountability for what he has said in the past.
Others users urged fellow followers to keep the focus on Smollett.
Chicago police are currently investigating Smollett’s attack. The actor is currently in good condition in the hospital according to CNN.