We are in an era of retribution and justice. This is the time for victims of injustice to reap rewards for their undeserved trauma. Many victims are taking this opportunity to come out and share their stories. Speaking is seen as act of bravery. It is also seen as redundant. The public is growing frustrated and numb to sob stories because they are tired of not knowing the truth. A prime example: Jussie Smollett.
Like me, many people believed Smollett’s initial story. Racism is still alive and racial struggles continue to be lived. So why would his story be fake? People disregarded the inconsistencies and their common sense in evaluating his account of the attack.
But his going out for a sandwich late at night in negative degree weather was enough to raise eyebrows. Crimes in cold weather are even less likely, according to an article from NBC News, Does The Cold Stop Crime? It Seems So.
When evidence came out that he may have fabricated the story for increased fame and fortune, people stopped believing him. But they were also hurt because he — like many other people of marginalized communities — was pretending to be a victim in hopes to garner support usually given to real victims.
In another article I wrote, I brushed on the misuse of black people’s outrage to promote goods by their white counterparts. This scandal shows that anyone and everybody, rich or poor, famous and unknown, black or white, can abuse the sympathy of the public. It saddens me that he fits in this category. How can I feel bad about believing that he is a liar when he is abusing struggles that real victims face to promote his new music, and to potentially get him a raise on his show, “Empire.” He abused his identity to raise his social profile, making it much harder for true victims. They may have to undergo more rigorous questioning because of the precedent Smollett has created. With all the talk and care he seemingly had for #BlackLivesMatter and LGBTQ+ rights in his interview with Robin Roberts, he actually used it as a disguise for his narcissistic agenda. His efforts resulted in a decline of views for “Empire” and16 charges — one for each of his fabrications.
These false allegations and false reports of rape and hate crimes do not delegitimize the struggles of others. We should walk away from these stories not discouraged, but with exercised discernment skills. This is not about victim shaming, but about being able to decipher who is abusing the public’s sensitivity to rape stories and hate crimes. People should be encouraged to think critically when hearing things on TV. As Smollett has shown us, you can’t believe everything that you hear.