When rapper Megan Thee Stallion was allegedly shot by Tory Lanez earlier this summer, the initial response from celebrities like Chrissy Teigen and 50 Cent was to joke about her injuries, using Megan’s “confident expressions of her sexuality as justification to trivialize the seriousness of her being shot,” as Justice Namaste wrote for this site. It’s a tale as old as time: Black women’s experience of violence is rendered unavoidable, mundane—she was questioned, then disbelieved, and then mocked.
A few months later, when Megan took the stage at Saturday Night Live, she used her performance as an opportunity to highlight the injustice of the Breonna Taylor decision, standing beneath a backdrop that read, “PROTECT BLACK WOMEN.” She also aired audio from a familiar 1962 Malcolm X speech, in which he said, “The most disrespected, unprotected, neglected person in America is the Black woman.” It was a powerful performance, and misunderstood by those who didn’t want to hear her. Now, in a new op-ed for The New York Times, Megan has made her stance clear once again: “I’m not afraid of criticism. We live in a country where we have the freedom to criticize elected officials. And it’s ridiculous that some people think the simple phrase ‘Protect Black women’ is controversial,” she wrote. “We deserve to be protected as human beings. And we are entitled to our anger about a laundry list of mistreatment and neglect that we suffer.”
She also wrote about being shot, the invisibility of the Black woman, and the stereotypes she and other Black women combat every day:
After a lot of self-reflection on that incident, I’ve realized that violence against women is not always connected to being in a relationship. Instead, it happens because too many men treat all women as objects, which helps them to justify inflicting abuse against us when we choose to exercise our own free will.
From the moment we begin to navigate the intricacies of adolescence, we feel the weight of this threat, and the weight of contradictory expectations and misguided preconceptions. Many of us begin to put too much value to how we are seen by others. That’s if we are seen at all.
The issue is even more intense for Black women, who struggle against stereotypes and are seen as angry or threatening when we try to stand up for ourselves and our sisters. There’s not much room for passionate advocacy if you are a Black woman.
She also discussed various threats to Black women’s lives:
Maternal mortality rates for Black mothers are about three times higher than those for white mothers, an obvious sign of racial bias in health care. In 2019, an astronomical 91 percent of the transgender or gender-nonconforming people who were fatally shot were Black, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if Black girls weren’t inundated with negative, sexist comments about Black women? If they were told instead of the many important things that we’ve achieved?” she posited near the end of the piece. “Black women are not naïve. We know that after the last ballot is cast and the vote is tallied, we are likely to go back to fighting for ourselves. Because at least for now, that’s all we have.”
Read the full piece here.