Injury to the Black female body is often heavier than most of us are willing to confirm or validate. If substantiating our injury was a dissertation, it’d prove a long-form essay many times over. The more inconceivable it has become to believe, support, and protect Black women, the more extreme the lengths Black women will go to try to convince others—even within our own community.
While the lengths to be believed and protected may sometimes prove unnecessary or redundant, the urgency speaks to a more important need in the Black community. One that for Black women, is often left out of vulnerable, but truthful moments such as these.
On July 12, 2020 Megan The Stallion was shot in the Hollywood Hills after attending a party hosted by Kylie Jenner, with rapper Tory Lanez and her ex-best friend, Kelsey Nicole. On July 15, 2020, Megan released a statement confirming she suffered gunshot wounds and had undergone surgery to remove the bullets. This statement countered Megan’s previous statement that she injured her foot on broken glass.
A month later, Megan confirmed that she was shot by Tory Lanez. “I didn’t tell the police what happened immediately right there because I didn’t want to die.”
Megan also stated that Lanez and his team offered her money to remain quiet. Tory Lanez denied the allegations, mainly addressing the incident on his album, Daystar. On the album, Lanez claimed an intimate relationship with Megan, while also stating that her team was trying to frame him. When Megan came forward, she received widespread backlash and a lack of sympathy on social media, in the hip-hop industry, and in society; attacking her credibility and even suggesting she was to blame for her own injuries.
Between several extensive attempts to launch smear campaigns against one another to prove their innocence, both Megan and Lanez have remained current on their positions regarding the incident. Megan remained assured that Lanez shot her, but denied an intimate relationship. Meanwhile, Lanez denied shooting Megan but suggested an intimate relationship did occur.
The public statements, social media messages, and interviews left public opinion with access and discourse into the lives of sensitive, personal matters. Is Megan Thee Stallion telling the truth? Did Tory Lanez shoot Megan? If not, then who? But more importantly, the conflict between Megan Thee Stallion and Tory Lanez exposed a deep divide in the Black community. One highlighting misogyny and discrimination, and it’s more devastating than I wanted to acknowledge.
I tell you: It’s largely offensive when Black women have to constantly substantiate violence against them to America. It’s even more offensive when the opposing side of our dilemma becomes our Black men.
On Oct. 2, 2020, Megan Thee Stallion brought the painful incident to the stage in a powerful performance on Saturday Night Live. Megan stood behind her claims. And in turn, the #ProtectBlackWomen movement stood behind Megan.
“I was recently the victim of an act of violence by a man. After a party, I was shot twice as I walked away from him. Truthfully, I was shocked that I ended up in that place.”
“My initial silence about what happened was out of fear for myself and my friends. Even as a victim, I have been met with skepticism and judgment. The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I played a role in my own violent assault proves that my fears about discussing what happened were, unfortunately, warranted.”
“…It’s ridiculous that some people think the simple phrase “Protect Black women” is controversial. We deserve to be protected as human beings.”
— Megan Thee Stallion: Why I Speak Up for Black Women, Oct. 13, 2020
Though #ProtectBlackWomen widely resonated on social media, the movement became more than a hashtag or a catchy slogan. More often than not, crimes and violence against Black women are met with more skepticism than support, and we constantly find ourselves trying to substantiate our experiences while facing accusatory interrogations, victim-blaming, misogyny, and criticism from society.
The shooting incident occurred during a time when Black Lives Matter protests were already sweeping the country, and calls to arrest the officers who killed Breonna Taylor were in high demand. Movements such as #SayHerName and #ProtectBlackWomen highlighted the battle of sexism and racism Black women face in America at large.
Because Black women encounter both gender and race discrimination simultaneously and more consistently than their counterparts, a vital factor of #ProtectBlackWomen is acknowledging the role such discriminations play in shaping our experiences, and choosing to speak up for us—not against us.
Almost one week after her SNL performance, Oct. 8, 2020, Tory Lanez was charged with shooting Megan Thee Stallion.
“Megan was drunk as hell and super aggressive, and she’s a big girl. I’m telling you right now, she has a problem. I’m telling you right now whatever happened with her and Tory, there’s more to the story. I’ve seen her in action. I’ve seen her be aggressive.”
“This ***** lie ‘bout getting shots, but she still a stallion / She don’t even get the joke but she still smiling.”
— Drake on “Circo Loco,” Nov. 2022
“Megan, you supposed to be from the streets. Even if it was a d*mn gunshot, what the f*ck? I know a b — h who got shot in the toe too; you don’t see her trying to send n*ggas to jail about it…you done took a n*gga from their family. And after that, they about to get deported, bro.”
While Megan Thee Stallion did receive support from Black men such as rapper Bun B, Jidenna, and Michael B. Jordan, from the time of the incident leading up to the trial, the bad unfortunately outweighed the good. Not only did most Black men speak out against Megan, but some spewed false narratives, resorted to insensitive comments and jokes, and continued to support Tory Lanez despite the accusations against him.
Just a week after the shooting, rapper Cam’ron posted a photo on Instagram that suggested Megan was transgender, captioning the photo: “Tory Lanez saw that d — k and started shooting. IDC what no one say.”
In February 2022, DJ Akademiks tweeted a false claim in Tory Lanez’s case that mentioned his DNA was not found on the weapon used to shoot Megan.
This claim was shortly debunked by a senior reporter from the New York Post.
In December 2022 during the trial, rapper 50 Cent weighed in by posting a meme showing Megan Thee Stallion morphing into Jussie Smollett. He captioned the photo: “Damn I’m confused all this s — t going around 🤷🏽♂️ I don’t know what to think. LOL.”
From the time Megan acknowledged Tory Lanez as the perpetrator, the gender divide in the Black community has been made painstakingly clear. Unfortunately, it made more sense for most Black men to believe that Black women are the villain in the violence against them—when the truth is, Megan The Stallion initially had every intention of protecting Tory Lanez over herself. And what exactly did Megan Thee Stallion receive in return for her initial silence and loyalty?
It’s been nearly two weeks since Tory Lanez was found guilty in a jury trial of three felony charges. And to be honest: I wasn’t sure if what was clear to me about the circumstances surrounding the shooting would transcend in a court of law. Not due to insufficient evidence, but because before the shooting trial took place, a more unavoidable, controversial one occurred first.
One where private matters were discussed publicly and speculation seemed to triumph over truth. While there should be no doubt that this incident injured Megan Thee Stallion, what we’ve been taught to believe—or rather not believe about Black women almost cost Megan justice.
Irrespective of public opinion, Megan was injured beyond measure by this incident. After statements, proof of injury, interviews, and a trial substantiating the incident, Black men found it difficult to confirm or accept this. And more devastatingly, our Black men found it difficult to decide whether to support Megan in a time of deep vulnerability, leaving an indecisive stance on whether Megan Thee Stallion deserves protection.
Again, not because of insufficient evidence, but perhaps because our Black men were unwilling to accept that Black women deserve to seek justice for crimes against them—even if the perpetrator is a Black man himself. If Megan Thee Stallion, an international superstar, Grammy award-winning rapper, and a college graduate is not safe from the constant misogynoir and violence, what does that mean for the rest of us?
Convincing the public to protect Black women has become a chaotic smokescreen so cloudy, only a few have overcome it. Even more so when we constantly find ourselves shouldering the burden of lack of allyship from within our own community. Black women are not afforded the luxury to choose one oppression over the other. We must fight with all this in mind—but one that includes our Black men, too.
As a Black woman who advocates for the rights of Black people, I am very conscious of how I speak about Black men. However, the gender divide painfully demonstrates that reciprocation often goes unmatched for Black women.
And a house divided against itself cannot stand.
And it costs absolutely nothing to believe us either.
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