When the initial furor broke out over charges against Jussie Smollett being dropped by Kim Foxx’s office, her initial response was fairly formulaic. She took to the pages of the local papers and published a reasoned explanation, saying that things like this happen all the time. Sadly for her, people began pointing out that things like this actually don’t happen all the time, particularly in such a high profile case where an expensive investigation had left law enforcement confident they had a slam dunk in attempting to prosecute it. Chicago officials were calling for her to resign and investigations were launched, leaving Foxx on the hot seat.
Now we’ve arrived at Plan B. If you can’t explain your way out of the mess you helped create, simply blame all of the criticism on… you guessed it. Racism. (Washinton Times)
Foxx openly wondered if her race had something to do with the harsh criticism she’s faced since her office announced that charges against Smollett had been dropped. The actor was accused of staging what he claimed to be a racist and homophobic attack in January.
“I have been asking myself for the last two weeks what is this really about,” she said. “As someone who has lived in this city, who came up in the projects of this city to serve as the first African American woman in this role, it is disheartening to me … that when we get in these positions somehow the goalposts change.”
Foxx, who recused herself from the case after she communicating with a Smollett relative during the probe, reiterated that she welcomes of an independent investigation into the way she and her office handled the case. She also reminded the audience that her office did the same thing for the nearly 6,000 low-level defendants who had their charges dropped with “deferred prosecution” during her tenure.
Well, the Cook County State’s Attorney has put the question out there, so I suppose it deserves an answer. What is this really about? Her implication is clear. If she wasn’t an African-American woman, the “goalposts” wouldn’t have been moved.
Sorry to dump cold water all over the premise, but… no. Just no. The primary actors involved in this passion play are not white people holding a grudge against Foxx over the handling of this case. Yes, Ms. Foxx is black. So is Jussie Smollett. So were the two men originally accused of the hate crime. So is the Police Superintendent who was one of the angriest after the charges were dropped. In fact, the only white person in sight who is involved with this debacle is the mayor (who appointed many of the black law enforcement officials). If you want to call Rahm Emanuel a racist, feel free, I suppose. But it will be a tough charge to make stick.
People aren’t responding to Kim Foxx in this fashion because she’s African-American. They’re responding because this was a travesty of justice and a damned expensive one at that. They’re responding to the implicit bias and favoritism being shown. They’re reacting to the fact that a wealthy and socially influential Hollywood figure who belongs to multiple politically favored demographic groups was able to rope in the influence of the Obama clan and Chicago’s soft underbelly of corruption and skip out on something like this.
Playing the race card doesn’t always make everything magically go away. And it certainly shouldn’t in this case.