Megan thee Stallion has and forever will be a core memory of my 2020 summer. The SavageRemix ft. Beyonce was the soundtrack of the summer and I spent my quarantine period trying to learn the newest tik tok dances to no avail.
To my friends and I, Megan’s rise to fame meant much more to us than just a new rapper for our playlists; seeing a tall, brown skin Black girl become critically acclaimed gave us someone to look up to. Although I’ve never once planned on becoming a rapper, every piece of representation has counted for myself and other Black girls. Megan’s music paints a picture of a woman who is free- both sexually and from the judgment of others.
When Megan Thee Stallion was shot in the foot by her former industry friend Tory Lanez, I quickly learned that the internet didn’t view her the same way that I did. As I scrolled through Twitter, I found myself horrified by men saying they would sexually assault her on her hospital bed, Megan being masculinized and called “Marcus thee stallion”, as well as the general consensus that she was lying.
At once, I understood why Black women are often forced to be silent about their abuse. The issue is not only that Black women are not believed; it is the systemic tear down that leaves Black women isolated from their communities, shunned by the world, and believed to be guilty before ever stepping foot in a courtroom.
Created in 2008 by Feminist scholar Maya Bailey, it describes,“the uniquely co-constitutive racialized and sexist violence that befalls Black women as a result of their simultaneous and interlocking oppression at the intersection of racial and gender marginalization.” In short, misogynoir addresses the ways racism and sexism combine to uniquely harm Black women.
In Meg thee Stallion’s case, it addresses the intersection of the way she is being criminalized in the court system while simultaneously experiencing slut shaming and dehumanization on social media. As a “strong Black woman”, she is seen as manipulative or lying when expressing pain and instantly portrayed as a defendant, rather than a victim.
The case of California v. Daystar Peterson was largely seen as Megan (as a defendant) v. Tory Lanez. Combining the world’s tendencies to define women by their sexual purity and Black women as oversexualized, Tory’s defense became less of proving his innocence and more proving why Megan’s sexual history means she was deserving of being shot. Her sexual history became connected to her very moral innocence, and was weaponized to make her appear as a liar, a whore, and a woman who aims to tear down Black men.
Megan’s innocence was the only thing on trial.
This becomes exhausting for Black women to deal with. When every moment is a battle for your existence, a battle to fight against a “guilty stamp” put on you since birth, it begins to feel as though grace and kindness are traits only applied for white women. We must ask ourselves who is giving grace to Black women?
In her testifying speech, Megan confessed she was experiencing suicidal thoughts as a result of her treatment. “I don’t feel like I want to be on this earth. I wish he would have just shot and killed me, if I knew I would have to go through this torture.” The effects of Tory’s alleged actions go far beyond the bullet; Meg has been torn down mentally by the entire world. These things are exhausting to bounce back from.
At the beginning of the semester, I wrote about being afraid to speak in class because I was afraid of my voice not being heard in a PWI space. After reflecting for the semester, I think I was simply exhausted with trying to combat the narratives associated with Black women. When I raise my hand to speak in class, everyone around me has a thousand different expectations on what I’ll say, how I’ll solve conflict, and what my opinions are.
It is essential that when I speak, my first priority is to defend myself from these perspectives, repaint a narrative that suits me, and then illustrate my point in the most calm manner possible. For Black women, there is never a blank slate; we spend our lives defending ourselves as worthy of consideration and belief. It is exhausting to do this every time I speak, and it makes me feel as if I’ll never truly be free to be me.
While I have learned over the course of the semester to become more loose, it has only been through the modeling of other Black women.
Megan’s case affects all of us; domestic violence victims, women, those aiming to be sexually liberated, those caged birds longing to be free. It is the Black community’s obligation to remove Megan from her position as defendant and work to humanize her. It is up to each and every one of us to abolish the misogynoir cop in our heads, to make sure that our perceptions do not stand in the way of standing with Black women.
As of December 23rd, Tory Lanez was found guilty on three counts of assault with a semiautomatic handgun, carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle and discharging a firearm with gross negligence.
Although the results of this trial are finally out, its effects extend beyond any remedy the criminal legal system could possibly give. Make no mistake, this is Legal justice. The physical and psychological effects of this trial on Megan and other abuse survivors is not something we should rely on the justice system to fix.
Ultimately, a guilty verdict means that rapper Tory Lanez will spend time within the carceral system. But what about the celebrities, blogs, media, and friends who put Megan’s very innocence on trial? What about the very conditions of bitterness and a belief that Black women should never succeed their counterparts that led Tory to pull the trigger? What about all the people who could have stood in solidarity with Megan, but instead chose silence? And finally, what about the everyday conversations in which people among us accused Megan of lying or being a hoe in casual conversation?
I feel no more free now that Tory has been indicted and I’m sure Megan doesn’t either. Already, the onslaught of hatred has begun all over the internet. So now what? What do survivors need to achieve justice beyond the criminal legal system? What steps should we be taking to ensure our community protects Black women, that victims are placed at the very center of our abolitionist visions of justice? Until these questions can be answered, women like Megan will always be ‘guilty at a glance’.