Empire actor Jussie Smollett was the victim of a horrific attack in Chicago on January 29. In an act that police are calling a possible hate crime, two men reportedly yelled racist and homophobic slurs at Smollett as he walked down a city street. The attackers then hit his face, tied a rope around his neck, and poured chemicals over his head.
Cynthia Bailey has been friends with Smollett for years, and was sickened to hear of the attack. In an Instagram post, The Real Housewives of Atlanta model shared her raw reaction upon learning the news: "Woke up to the sad & devastating news of my dear friend [Jussie Smollett] being the victim of a homophobic attack by two ignorant, racist, disgusting individuals in Chicago. Those of you that know Jussie know that he is one of the sweetest, kindest, most giving & most loving human beings on the planet. No one deserves what happened to him! I am shocked, devastated and heartbroken. Please pray for him and his family. Pray hard for his speedy recovery. I am so angry that this happened to him," she wrote. "Why?"
More ladies from The Real Housewives of Atlanta — including Kandi Burruss, NeNe Leakes, Porsha Williams, and Shamari DeVoe — also posted messages of solidarity and support for Smollett. Kandi wrote: "Sending prayers and love to my friend [Jussie Smollett]! Hate has caused a lot of problems in this world but has not solved one yet!" Nene was just as disturbed by the attack: The things people do sometimes can be so disgusting and mean! What was the purpose? What did you get out of attacking, belittling, hurting and using racist remarks to harm another human to this level. So sorry this happened to you! You deserve so much more," she wrote. Porsha said, "Sending up prayers to [Jussie Smollett] we love you sorry this happen to you." Shamari also offered prayers, writing, "Prayers up for [Jussie Smollett] I’m extremely hurt and deeply saddened by this news. You did not deserve this. 'Darkness cannot drive darkness; Light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; Love can do that.'"
Ashley Darby from The Real Housewives of Potomac shared her feelings of dismay, and offered up prayers, writing on Instagram, "Senseless and stupid!!! How can this be the "progressive melting pot" called America?! Sending you many prayers sweet Jussie."
Marlo Hampton also took to Instagram, writing, "Sending love and prayers for your mental and physical healing [Jussie Smollett] Please help the Chicago PD get justice for Jussie with tips, the disgusting individuals who carried out this homophobic and racist attack must be caught."
More messages of support poured in from celebrities including Viola Davis, Brandy, Kelly Rowland, and Zoë Kravitz. Davis wrote on Instagram, "OMG!! THIS is why the LGBTQ community continue to fight to be seen and PROTECTED against hate! We ALL have to take this racist and homophobic act of violence very personally! My arms are around you [Jussie Smollett]. You are loved!" Brandy posted the following inspirational message: "You will R I S E !" Rowland wrote, "JUSSIE I am so sorry this happened to you! YOU ARE A KIND SOUL And a LIGHT to us ALL!!" And Kravitz said in part, "Sending you so much love brother. What year are we living in ???"
Katie Couric posted a poignant message as well: "Jussie Smollett, one of the stars of the hit show [Empire] was attacked in Chicago early Tuesday morning by two people who yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him. The attackers also wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an 'unknown chemical substance' on him. According to Chicago police, they are investigating the incident as a 'possible hate crime.' [Jussie Smollett] is gay and came out in 2015. He has been active in work revolving around HIV/AIDS prevention. He has been a prominent ally of advocacy groups like the [Human Rights Campagin] and the Black AIDS Institute. Hate crimes have been on the rise - of the more than 7,100 recorded incidents attributed to prejudice in 2017, roughly 60% were caused by biases involving race, ethnicity, and ancestry. About 16% were attacks on sexual orientation. Jussie took himself to Northwestern Hospital and 'is in good condition,' according to police."