Unless you’ve been asleep for the past month or in some post-apocalyptic alternate reality, I’m sure you’ve been keeping up with the drama that is Jussie Smollett. I wrote an article about it previously, more or less defending the position that he is being eviscerated by society and I’d like to clarify my stance in light of recent findings in this rollercoaster of a case.
Previously, I stood up for Jussie and I’d like to say that I still do. I’d like to, but I’m conflicted. I’ve lost my will to defend him, but I also don’t believe everything that’s being said. As the evidence mounts, it’s become a lot harder to accept the story for what it is. There is something deeper going on and whether we know everything is still yet to be seen.
What is the truth?
In all honesty, I don’t believe that anyone, Jussie included, would be that narcissistic to stage something so pasted together for a little shameless promotion. I can’t even fathom any legitimate reasoning or motivation to lie about something so profound in the age of Donald Trump. We’re living in a time where lies are commonplace and blatant as ever. None of this is new, but we’re finally beginning to see Dr. Oz behind the curtain.
As much as I want to blindly believe that he lied because the evidence says so, I don’t. It is so much easier to believe that a black, gay man would lie rather than believe that this actually could have happened in today’s America. Donald Trump literally lies every day. It’s like he has a running list of things he hasn’t lied about yet and is just crossing things off one by one. This story falls right into the narrative that gay men are “messy” and “dramatic” when that couldn’t be further from the truth. It only adds fuel to the fire that is “fake-news” and “alternative facts”.
The repercussions of a lie like this are endless. Not only does this mobilize Trump’s base and further embolden them, it also completely quiets other survivors stories. Even when it shouldn’t. One mans lie shouldn’t define others who have actually survived trauma. As I said in my last article on the subject, this is not news. This is reality for some people. This story is real, whether Jussie’s version is or not. We have to continue to hear those that come forward.
A Case for Change
I refuse to treat other survivors as if their story exists in a vacuum. I refuse to see each story of racism, homophobia and straight up abuse through the lens of one person’s “lie”. We must hear the voices of those who have been harmed and mistreated, whether he lied or not. Their voices matter.
Until all the facts have come out, I resign to being neutral on the matter. I am however, skeptical of any new information and will wait until a verdict is reached. Jussie Smollett’s case is an isolated incident and should not be treated as the outline for every case of assault or racism. Continue the conversation and encourage others to speak up. We have to.
In the words of the late, great Sam Cooke, “A change gonna come.”