New York Times recently released an article of an interview done with rising star rapper Megan Thee Stallion. The article highlighted a chronic and often overlooked social issue – society’s treatment of Black women. An artistic video compilation of BIPOC (Black, indigenous, person of color) life overlaid by highlights within Megan’s monologue accompanied the interview and offered a somber introduction into her commentary on the present state of what it means to be a Black woman in America. 

“What does it mean to be a woman of color?”

Megan Thee Stallion set social media ablaze the night of July 15, 2020 with the news that singer-songwriter Tory Lanez allegedly shot her in the Hollywood Hills. In the short time thereafter, heavy speculation began to fly from all corners of the internet. It wasn’t hard to find those acquitting Tory of any possible guilt and placing blame of the situation on Megan. Much of this discourse was led, unfortunately, by men.

Megan did not immediately step forward to clear the air, fearing that she would not be believed and her words misconstrued, yet she eventually could not keep her silence. On August 20th, Megan took to Instagram Live and stated directly that “Yes, this n****, Tory [Lanez], shot me.” and that she tried to “keep [the] situation off the internet.” While one might think this would dispel doubts for many people, Megan’s initial fears rang true, and she continued to face blame for her involvement in the altercation and have her story downplayed.

This reintroduces a larger discussion on the historically constant issue of misogyny towards Black women in America. Megan often faces scrutiny for her lyricism and choice of attire, which she also addresses in the Times article. She states “the remarks about how I choose to present myself have often been judgmental and cruel.” It is not uncommon for women to make use of sexual appeal and adorn suggestive attire in the entertainment industry, and it is undeniable that women face harassment both within the industry and outside of it regardless of how they present themselves, but Black women are subjected to such defamation more critically than anyone else. 

It’s not controversial, it’s human decency.

 

Similarly, the singer Lizzo faces targeted harassment online regarding her weight and how she chooses to present herself. Despite her unerring confidence and having addressed ‘concerns’ about her weight on multiple occasions, she is regularly body-shamed. Beyond a few social media clapbacks, trolls rarely face major consequences for objectifying women’s bodies online. It doesn’t take much searching to find testimonies from Black women sharing stories of being badgered for aspects of themselves. As we move toward a world of equality, the culture of violence against black women is exposed more everyday.

Megan suggests, in her interview, that this era of Black women who do things for themselves and don’t conform to society’s stereotypical views of Black women may draw negative attention to them from men who feel entitled to Black women’s bodies, attitudes, careers, etc., stating “I’ve realized that violence against women […] happens because too many men treat women as objects, which helps them to justify inflicting abuse against us when we choose to exercise our own free will.” She speaks on behalf of all Black women who have been mistreated or told by a man how she should act, think, talk, dress, behave, who she can befriend, etc.. Megan wants to get the message out that Black women are not society’s playthings and that they deserve respect and protection the same as anyone else.

That goes for ALL Black women

Megan expresses that “Protect Black Women” should not be a controversial statement. As previously mentioned, this is not remotely close to a new sentiment. Later in the Times article, Megan mentions a few statistics. She notes that Black mothers are “three times” more likely to pass away during childbirth in the hospital. She also states that black transgender or gender-nonconforming people made up 91% of trans people fatally shot in 2016. Though misogyny and violence against women is rarely placed in a national spotlight, transmisogyny is publicized even less. As reported by the NCTE’s U.S. Transgender Survey of 2016, 47% of Black respondents “reported being denied equal treatment, verbally harassed, and/or physically attacked in the past year.” The intersectionality of being Black, transgender, and a woman create a trifecta of targeted discrimination and bigotry that often manifests fatally, especially when Black transwomen face even less protection than cisgender women.

Megan’s message was not induced to draw traffic to her music, nor was it hollow or a vanity cry. There are still those who would skew her words and warp her intention. But that noise is specifically what she is pushing back against. Megan simply calls for something that is long overdue: the respect, protection, and humanization of all Black women.

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