BY: LAMA MOHAMMED
"Even though he shot me, I tried to spare him" are the words the 25-year-old Texas-born rapper Megan Thee Stallion used when naming Canadian rapper Tory Lanez as her shooter via a livestream video on Instagram. Although the news has revealed that Lanez apologized to Megan over texts on Sept. 9, claiming that he "got too drunk," it is the disturbing reaction of how the world responded when Megan revealed Lanez as the man who shot her on July 21. Megan's social media was filled with comments containing terms such as, "snitch," "liar," and "aggressive" â€” attesting to the horrifying reality that society fails to support and believe the stories of survivors who are Black womxn, while also bringing to light that Black womxn know this, and still protect the men in their communities at the expense of their lives.
When Megan was shot in both of her feet, she did not report the story to the police, purposely, to protect her own life as well as Lanez's because of the continuous brutality Black people face at the hands of the police. As stated in her livestream video, "You want me to tell the laws we got a gun in the car so they can shoot all of us?" Megan was willing to lay down her life at the expense of Tory â€” even telling the police she stepped on glass â€” and yet, people did not believe her. If this shooting had happened outside Kylie Jenner's home (who was present before the altercation occurred), we would have seen a different story, but the "strong Black woman" trope dismisses Megan's ability to speak about her experience and continuously makes her relive her trauma.
Megan's hesitation to name Tory Lanez as the perpetrator opens the door to the cycle of silence women of color endure as a means to protect the men in their communities. Therefore, for her own safety and healing process, Megan stayed silent about her attack. When women do speak up, the public often tries to manipulate it and creates a scenario where she is "exaggerating" and views her situation as "not as bad as it seems." The idea that Megan felt that she had to post an image of the stitches on her foot for people to believe her discourages women from speaking out on their experiences and normalizes violence within our communities. The cultural implications in blaming women induce trauma and a difficult journey of healing.
In a tweet, Megan revealed larger issues of the violence Black womxn face, their fear of the police, and that the "strong Black woman" trope downplays their experience â€” making the violence they experience seem humorous to many. It is deeply saddening because Megan's story resonates with a lot of Black women, such as Rihanna and Tina Turner, who have endured negative comments and media jokes after being abused by men.
Black women are so unprotected & we hold so many things in to protect the feelings of others w/o considering our own. It might be funny to y'all on the internet and just another messy topic for you to talk about but this is my real life and I'm real life hurt and traumatized.— HOT GIRL MEG (@theestallion) July 17, 2020
Wagatwe Wanjuki, an anti-rape activist and survivor of domestic violence, tells the Washington Post that it is "very difficult" to see Megan receive such offensive jokes since revealing her story. Wanjuki says Megan's experience is a reminder of how unprotected and unsafe she always feels. "It's easier for us to be mocked than for us to be cherished or treated with compassion." Actress and model Draya Michele compared Megan and Tory to the abuse Whitney Houston faced with her husband, Bobby Brown, and joked, "I'm here for it. I like that. I want you to like me so much you shoot me in the foot, too." This unwillingness to see Black women as both victims and survivors of violence is rooted in what Black queer feminist scholar Moya Bailey calls "misogynoir" â€” the combination of anti-Blackness and misogyny. The public and celebrities have used Megan's art, strength, and sexuality against her by using it to justify what happened to her.
So many people fear Megan's strength and her confidence in her sexuality, making so many women connect with her and her music. Megan's power to many is "dangerous" and allowing society to demean her is what teaches communities to normalize violence against Black women. Wanjuki explains that communities think Black women "can take it" because they are "strong" and "resilient" or that they are "liars" or "aggressive." This persona needs to end because these racist stereotypes are impacting Black women's lives and killing them in all forms.
It has been engraved in Black women's minds for so long that they have to risk it all for the men and everyone else in their community. It leaves one question to be asked, "If Black women are supposed to protect and save us all, who will protect and save us?" In a world where we see Black women taking control of the streets and leading youth in our next chapter of the civil rights movement and Black people's liberation, it is time to believe, support, and empower Black women.