When will ‘protect Black women’ finally become more than a popular hashtag?
If Megan Thee Stallion’s sit-down interview with Gayle King about the 2020 shooting involving singer Tory Lanez teaches us anything, it’s that Black women aren’t allowed to be victims—even in the eyes of the people who claim to love us.
When reports of the incident first surfaced, a few figures in hip hop immediately took to social media to share their thoughts on the matter. What they offered wasn’t compassion but jokes, which ultimately turned Megan’s trauma into a punchline. 50 Cent shared a now deleted Boyz n the Hood meme mocking the incident.
He quickly apologized stating: “I wouldn’t have done that if i knew you was really hurt sorry.” Cam’ron also shared a meme that implied the reason for Lanez’s reported violence toward Megan was that she’s really a man—which led many to call the Purple Haze rapper transphobic. The ridicule got so bad, which encompassed commentary from celebrities like Draya Michele to Chrissy Teigen, that Questlove chimed in perplexed by the insensitivity.
“I just wanna know how come this isn’t taken in a serious matter (I’m dreading I already know the answer as I type each word) everything about this story is mad....fucked up? Hardly heard no news coverage, nothing....don’t even know @theestalllon like that but I hope she recovers & gets justice?”
A few rappers spoke up defending Megan, including Bun B, Wale and 21 Savage, but outrage in the hip hop community was mostly replaced by skepticism: is Megan lying about being shot by Lanez? In her interview with King, which aired earlier today, she explained that initially telling police she stepped on glass was an attempt to protect everyone involved in the situation.
“I didn’t want to see anybody die so I said I stepped on glass. So when I see people trying to use that against me like, I’m lying. ‘Oh, she stepped on glass, she never got shot.’ I’m the one who said I stepped on glass, I was lying to protect all of us.”
The evidence corroborating Lanez’s guilt is beyond mounting at this point and includes: video from the night of the altercation showing Megan and her bloodied feet limping while trying to follow police orders, the medical report, texts obtained from a witness in the car that said Lanez shot Megan, photos of her wounds and her own personal testimony saying she was assaulted. Yet, her pain is still being met with disrespect instead of benevolence.
DaBaby—who nowadays is gaining more traction for his behavior outside of the studio than for his actual music—welcomed Lanez as his guest during his 2021 Rolling Loud Miami set. When the assault trial started in February, DJ Akademics fueled suspicion surrounding Megan by going to Twitter saying:
“Tory Lanez trial just adjourned until April with Tory’s lawyer telling the court they have completed DNA results from the prosecution which is very pleasing to his client (I saw this doc myself .. it literally says it was inconclusive in finding TORY DNA on the gun or magazine).”
Megan quickly refuted his claims and Akademics has since deleted the tweet. Jack Harlow, who has collaborated in the past with Lanez, classified himself as a ‘good guy’ in an interview with Rolling Stone earlier this month before explaining his decision to remain neutral on this topic. “It doesn’t feel right as a grown man to speak for other grown men all the time...One thing’s for sure, is that Megan got shot. And I wish her nothing but love and respect.”
We know that Black women are the most disrespected group of people on the planet, a point which Megan herself underscored in an op-ed for The New York Times published 3 months after the shooting occurred. We are the group that go missing the most and we are also the ones most likely to die from domestic violence. What Megan needs is solidarity from the hip hop community—ranging from those who curate the art form to mere enjoyers of it.
It’s not ‘Protect Black women’ until you realize it’s a Black man who is accused of abuse. It’s not ‘Protect Black women’ unless you enjoy the music of the abuser. It needs to be ‘Protect Black women’—full stop—now more than ever because our lives are depending on it.