The majority of folks who cast their votes for this country’s current commander, Donald J. Trump, probably didn’t think about entertainer Jussie Smollett before Thursday.
In fact, I could probably go out on a proverbial limb and say that up until that point, the 34-year-old singer-songwriter and star of FOX’s Empire was pretty much an unknown to the common MAGA supporter for reasons mostly related to his black actor-led series, his part-black racial makeup — Smollett’s father is Jewish and his mother is African-American — or his pride as an openly gay black man.
And no, that’s not to say that every Trump supporter out there is some sort of bigot, but it is most likely safe to assume that the majority of the 49 percent of Americans who side with his anti-immigrant stance aren’t watching a weekly musical drama that centers on an all-black family and also features Smollett, an openly gay black man. And that’s kind of sad, really, because Jussie is truly talented. Actually, his entire family is, but I digress.
On Thursday, after three-plus years of recording tunes solely for the ongoing storyline of Jamal Lyon, Smollett’s fictional Empire counterpart, Jussie dropped what appeared to be his first-ever non-TV related single, “F.U.W.,” or “f***ed-up world,” on YouTube. Check it out below.
Powerful stuff, isn’t it? The lyricism, the imagery of some of this world’s many wrongs, the person unabashedly singing about those wrongs and demanding for those in power to make it right; so strong and so very necessary during times like these, and I completely agree with every single word and scene that Jussie put together on his own (he both wrote the song and directed the video).
But, I do have a slight question: Why is Jussie the one that’s sharing this message?
Before Trump ever took the win over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton last November and even well beyond that point, there were several huge pop singers who seemingly weren’t afraid to take the former Apprentice host to task during magazine interviews, in their live shows, and on their social media accounts, but never once on an actual record, which is a bit confusing considering he just proposed serious budget cuts to the arts to help build his infamous wall/fence/Mexican barrier.
For example, Madonna has been one of the loudest anti-Trump voices since before the election, going as far as to speak at not one, but two public anti-Trump rallies in NYC last November, as the Concourse noted, and the inspirational Women’s March in Washington, D.C., this past January, but never once has she taken her grievance to the mic, so to speak.
“Yes, I’m angry [that he was elected],” the “Rebel Heart” singer stated during her Women’s March speech, as CNN transcribed.
“Yes, I am outraged. Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.”
A bit strong, sure, but it was still paramount in the sense that someone who might actually benefit from or, at the very least, survive living in Trump’s America by being a wealthy, Caucasian, cisgender woman was just as unafraid to use her notoriety to openly resist his regime. But the thing is, she didn’t go far enough, in my opinion.
Sure, showing face and dropping a couple of f-bombs here and there is all good for a quick cheer or two, but anyone with a mouth and a working voice box can do that. As a world-renowned, opinionated music artist with a bevy of other talented music artists at her disposal, wouldn’t it make more sense for the singer who has sold millions of records throughout the world on several different social topics, such as abortion and religion, to use her talent to make a stronger statement?
Whether you agree or disagree with what “F.U.W.” or Jussie Smollett stands for, it’s not surprising for that kind of message to come from someone whom this occasionally messed up world targets for being openly gay and black.
Of course Jussie Smollett would record a protest song for himself and those who feel targeted by Trump for being openly LGBT and non-Caucasian, or any other minority, but imagine how much powerful it could’ve been if someone like Madonna or Justin Timberlake or Katy Perry (sorry, girl, but “Chained to the Rhythm” was basically an “I’m still with her” ode. Nice try, though) actually would’ve recorded and released a similar tune first.
Would it have caused some controversy? Absolutely so, but it wouldn’t be their first go at that particular rodeo and incidentally, the reason behind the call-out would be far less selfish than, say, engaging in a publicity stunt to promote a new album or maintain some kind of media relevance, which they’ve all been guilty of in the past.
If representation truly matters, then it goes well beyond the need to have a musician who looks, thinks, and lives like us speaking up on our behalf. Not that we’re not grateful, of course, but we ultimately know who our support systems are, even if we don’t know them personally.
As a gay, black man myself, I know without a doubt that Jussie Smollett feels the same way I do about this country and Trump as most other gay black men do. I even know how non-black people, such as Madonna and Katy Perry, feel about him, and again, I’m inclined to agree with their thoughts. However, I’m just a low-level journalist. You’re not going to care what I think after you close this browser window, but I bet you still remember the time when that rich, Italian-American pop star wanted to light up the White House with Trump inside of it, right?
Jussie Smollett, thank you for not being afraid to take a true and meaningful stand against Trump. I just wish someone else would have stepped up to the mic — no offense.
[Featured Image by Cindy Ord/Stringer/Getty Images]