Black women are so unprotected.
2020 has been a crazy year for everyone-- from COVID-19 changing the way we live our lives, to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, which led to a massive uprising in the beginning of the summer-- people have been tackling with what it means to have a life matter.
In the midst of this fight for justice, Black women's lives and Black trans lives have been taken without cause. Oluwatoyin Salau, Riah Milton, Dominique Fells, and more all lost their lives while we were all telling the world that “Black Lives Matter”. However, these women’s names were like a blip on the radar, mentioned once or twice before the subject was returned back to George Floyd and back to police brutality.
This has weighed on me so heavily, because I was also seeing and experiencing personally feeling unprotected. I was feeling preyed upon by men who wanted to take from me, but weren’t willing to give me back anything in return. I was sickened by the people in my life who felt I owed them access to me and to what I had, but felt no responsibility for how their actions were affecting me. And I was hurt because I didn’t feel I had anywhere to turn.
Then, one of my favorite rappers was shot.
Okay so here’s what we know: on July 12th, Megan Thee Stallion, 25-year-old rapper and superstar from Houston, was in the car with Canadian rapper/singer Tory Lanez, her friend, and a member of his security. Megan and Tory get into an argument, and Megan gets out of the car to walk back to the house they had come from. Shots were fired, and Megan was shot in both feet. Though initially refusing to say who shot her, Megan told the world yesterday, August 20th, that it was Tory Lanez who shot her.
In the days following the shooting, Black Twitter was on fire with jokes and speculation. 50 Cent posted a cruel meme that depicted Megan’s head superimposed on Ricky’s body from the movie Boyz in the Hood, running away just before he was shot. Draya Michelle, former star of Basketball Wives LA, joked:
"I want you to like me so much that if I'm trying to get out the car, and you're like, 'No,
sit your ass in the car,' and I'm like, 'No n---a, I'm getting out the car.' [He'd say,] 'No
you're not!' Bam-bam!"
We know that the internet can be a cruel place, but this was even excessive. To women like myself, who were already reeling from an intense few months, this was a blow too far. Even Megan herself expressed it in a post:
People also like to blame Megan for what happened to her, like there could be some possible justification to someone shooting her. Whatever the argument or confrontation was, she was walking away. She didn’t deserve to be shot.
Others are citing that Megan’s persona, especially the overt sexuality, makes her a less than perfect victim. However, remember that respectability has not saved a single soul. Not Black men from the police, and not Black women from anything or anyone else.
Megan even refrained from telling anyone who shot her until recently! Why? Because she was concerned for Tory Lanez and did not want to get him in trouble with the police. She chose to protect the man that felt so entitled to her time that he shot her in the foot! Now that she is finally speaking out, people are calling her a snitch! When does this end?
When will our community finally see the value in ALL Black lives-- whether they be male, female, trans, or gender non-conforming? Following the death of Sandra Bland, Kimberle Crenshaw created the hashtag #SayHerName to remind us all that black women are often victims of state-sanctioned violence but rarely receive justice. As a whole, fighting for the lives of black women is secondary, and black LGBTQ+ is nearly non-existent.
When will we hold Black men accountable for the ways they victimize us, instead of protecting them and allowing them to continue to victimize others? We let R. Kelly prey on young Black girls for years, even making a joke of it. No one protected those girls. Keke Palmer called out Trey Songz for sexually intimidating her three years ago, and no one even remembered this until model Celina Powell came forward with similar allegations. Jaguar Wright told everyone of a sexual assault perpetrated by rapper Common, and very few people have come out in support of her. Talib Kweli cyber-bullied a Black woman for weeks on Twitter before being permanently banned, and his fans joined in on the bullying. At some point, we all have to say no more! This is not acceptable.
Protecting Black women should be a pleasure. We give so much of ourselves, take care of so many people, and, most importantly, we EXIST. We show up for Black lives, we show up in the polls, we fight for the rights of people everywhere, yet our own lives aren’t being valued in our community. The people we love are not loving us back, or loving us right.
All Black women, whether they are world famous like Megan Thee Stallion, or just trying to make it like Oluwatoyin Salau, deserve to be able to be their full, unencumbered, blissfully happy, beautiful, soulful selves, without fear or shame or respectability or anything else justifying their victimization. Riah Milton and Dominique Fells deserve to be who they are and show love how they want, without the fear of being victimized for who they are.
Protecting Black women is a whole flex. It’s past time that we as women require it, and that men feel empowered to do it.
UPDATE: Tory Lanez released an album on September 25th where he denies the shooting and disses Megan Thee Stallion. He spends 17 tracks trying to create his own narrative and make Megan look like the bad guy. She was harmed, but somehow he's the victim. This is trash behavior, plain and simple.