I Never Believed Jussie Smollett. I Hate That.

We’re in an era where the unbelievable is to be believed and the believable is to be questioned. At no point did I find truth in Jussie Smollett’s story. As it was reported to be, at least. I hate that.

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Jussie Smollett on Good Morning America (ABC News)

At this point, Jussie Smollett’s — and the media, really — story continues to change. As of this writing, Smollett is now believed to be a suspect in his own attack, conspiring with two friends to stage his assault as well as orchestrating the threats he received prior to the event. His hesitancy to cooperate with police — and acquiring a crisis management team — add onto the idea that we’ve been hoodwinked, let astray and bamboozled from the beginning.

(And as I write this, Chicago Police have charged Jussie Smollett with filing a false police report.)

Well, not we.

In full transparency, I never believed Smollett. At least in the time it would take for me to believe his story. The lessons of a journalism school dropout means that you employ the 48-hour rule with respect to breaking news: there’s no news until there is news to report. Most stories don’t take shape until 48 hours after an event happens. A lot happens in 48 hours including interviews, corroboration of stories and statements. Facts on Friday change by Monday. That’s the nature of how news works. So his story came to me begging for the 48-hour treatment. If it was as bad as it sounded, we’d know.

We never found out. It unraveled.

I also failed to believe Smollett because I’m jaded, admittedly. Truth be told, I don’t believe sh*t. We’re in an era of fake news and fake memes, on Facebook and from the Oval Office. You yearn for complexity in story. Nothing in this world strikes me anymore as black-and-white. Especially on social media.

The anger I feel for situations like his linger in my soul for days, not on my timeline. I don’t feel obligated to share my anger or frustrations in the moment. I also don’t feel the need to express myself in that moment to appease my own personal obsession with my opinion. You don’t process my feelings. I do.

But I’m still somewhat upset with myself for not believing this story. Everything about it should to be believed. Hate crimes exist. Hate crimes against Black men exist. Hate crimes against Black gay men exist. It’s no surprise to hear that a Black gay and/or trans male was assaulted on his way home from a party. It’s happened. Google it. It’s happened in my own city.

They didn’t believe us then. Why on Earth would they believe us now? Especially when it proves their point: we’re hungry to dismantle the message of Donald Trump.

The memes shuffling around the internet? Created by those who see this fabrication as the cosign to their ideas of racial oversaturation. They never believed us, to be fair. This story confirms their narrative that the racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-blackness we tell about does not exist. We’re as Jussie as Jussie. In their mind, our gold medals from the Oppression Olympics sparkle as bright as the day we received them.

But this current iteration of the news media and social media — and the amalgamation of the two — created a space for Jussie’s story to be believed with a shadow of a doubt. And dismantled once it came to light.

Memoirist in spirit and in truth. Christian essayist when both the spirit and truth move me. email: crjtwrites[at]gmail.com

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