Perhaps I don’t want to believe him because this is a stark and scary reminder of the poor condition of the country (and city) that I call home. Maybe this story makes the boogeyman in my nightmares all too real, too close and too calculating. Maybe it’s because while I consider myself an ally to the LGBTQ community, I still don’t understand and appreciate the daily harassment that they endure. Or maybe even though I am a black woman, I still don’t know what it’s like to be a black man in America…

If Smollett’s story is found to be untrue, it will cause irreparable damage to the communities most affected. Smollett would be the first example skeptics cite when they say we should be dubious of victims who step forward to share their experiences of racist hate crimes or sexual violence. The incident would be touted as proof that there is a leftist conspiracy to cast Trump supporters as violent, murderous racists. It would be the very embodiment of “fake news.”