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Jussie Smollett is speaking out about the extended discourse surrounding his maintaining of innocence in response to claims he staged a racist and homophobic attack in 2019. As previously reported, Smollett was found guilty last December of multiple counts of disorderly conduct in connection with lying to police.

Speaking with Sway in the Morning on Tuesday, Smollett—who’s currently out in promotion of his feature directorial debut B-Boy Blues—was asked about the level of attention given to his case, prompting the actor to reveal what bothers him most isn’t those who don’t believe him. Instead, he explained, it’s those who have argued varying versions of—in Smollett’s words—“Well, even if he did do xyz.”

After stating that he has spent his entire career representing issues including social justice and equality, Smollett argued he’s not the type of person who would do something against those causes.

“If I had done this, I’d be a piece of shit. … That’s not really questionable,” he said around the 19:57 mark in the video up top. Doing so, he added, would be like sticking his “fist in the pain” of so many other people throughout history.

“If I had done something like this, it would mean that I stuck my fist in the pain of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years,” he said. “We’re not even talking about in Africa because that’s an even deeper, larger conversation. It would mean that I stuck my fist in the fears of the LGBTQ community all over the world. I’m not that motherfucker. Never have been, don’t need to be, didn’t need to have a … rise in his career. I was on the up-and-up.”

In the same interview, Smollett also mentioned his former Empire co-star Taraji P. Henson, who in March shared a public message of support in response to Smollett’s sentencing. 

“That is my heart,” Smollett said of their friendship.

See more up top.

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