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What can we learn from the shooting of Megan Thee Stallion?

Late last month, a Los Angeles jury found Canadian rapper Tory Lanez guilty of shooting Houston native Megan T Stallion in the leg in 2020. Lanez, whose real name is Daystar Peterson, was found guilty of all three criminal charges brought against him by Los Angeles County: assault with a semi-automatic weapon, carrying a loaded and unregistered firearm in a vehicle, and negligent handling of a firearm. The jury’s conviction marks the end of the legal battle, but it seems that more than two years of constant sarcasm since she named Lanes as her shooter has cost Meghan dearly. The trial and its aftermath is a very public example of how too often we silence black women and punish those who choose to speak up.

Recall: On July 12, 2020, Megan Thee Stallion left a pool party at Kylie Jenner’s house with Lanez, his driver and Megan’s ex-girlfriend and assistant Kelsey Harris. An argument broke out and it escalated so much that Meghan decided to get out of the car and leave as the group approached her home in the Hollywood Hills. According to Megan, after she got out of the car, Lanez screamed “Dance, bitch!” and shot her several times in the legs. Police were called to the scene and ordered everyone out of the car at gunpoint. In the video, when Megan limps from the car, she leaves bloody footprints behind her.

Aware of the recent killing of George Floyd by police, fearful of police brutality, and hesitant to “tap” on Lanez, Meghan first told the LAPD she stepped on glass before revealing the truth that Lanez had shot her. On social media, Lanez denied the accusation, instead spreading the story that Meghan and her assistant had a fight over him, and — as his legal team later summarized in court — suggested that Harris shot Meghan out of jealousy.

In the online conversation that followed, Meghan went from a victim of gun violence to a heartless woman who falsely accused an innocent man. In an interview with rolling stone in 2022, Meghan opened up about this bewildering turning point and sarcasm that haunted her for over two years. “In a way, I became a villainess,” she said. “And I don’t know if people take it seriously because I seem strong. I wonder if it’s because of the way I look? Is it because I’m not light enough? Am I not white enough? Am I not the right shape? Height? Because I’m not small? Don’t I deserve to be treated like a woman?”

What Meghan describes is misogyny, a term coined by scholar Moya Bailey to describe the pernicious combination of misogyny and racism that black women face. Misogynoir robs black women not only of their femininity, but of their humanity. In 2017, a study by the Georgetown Center for Poverty and Inequality found that black girls are considered older and less in need of comfort and care than their white peers. This resulted in black girls receiving more discipline than white students for similar school infractions. They were more often suspended and expelled, handed over to law enforcement agencies and even arrested. Misogynoir portrays black girls and women as more violent, hypersexual, and dishonest, among other harmful stereotypes, making them more vulnerable to violence and criminalization. This is what makes a man shoot a black woman he was previously intimate with and then blame another black woman for it. This is what motivates him and his lawyer to try to have a trial about her sexuality, not his abuse. This is what turns the victim of violence into a sly liar in public opinion.

It is estimated that more than half of the victims of violence in the United States do not report it to the police, and one of the reasons for this is the fear that they will not be believed. Megan told the world that a man shot her. In response, celebrities praised his music with thinly veiled puns, invited him to venues where Megan performed, and called her a liar in their songs. Meanwhile, strangers on the internet joked, speculated about Meghan’s sex history and wondered if she was shot at all, despite videos of her bloody footprints and pictures of her leg scars from surgery. For the past two years, it seemed like Megan was on trial, not Lanez. The vitriol has taken an extremely negative toll on Meghan’s mental health. “I don’t want to be on this Earth,” she said during her court testimony. “I would like him to shoot me if I knew I would go through this torture.”

Megan Thee Stallion has won three Grammy Awards, collaborated with superstars such as Beyoncé and Cardi B, and has had a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She dominated the summer and got her own Popeyes hot sauce. The public ridicule and hatred she received—and continues to receive—for giving a report that was backed up by eyewitnesses, police reports, videos, and testimonies from the surgeons who operated on her is a very public example of what black women struggle with when making a decision. report abuse and violence.

Although Meghan has many fans and advocates on social media, even a guilty verdict was not enough to completely turn the tide of public opinion in her favor. After Lanes’ conviction, his supporters were still rushing to Meghan’s social media to accuse her of lying, threatening and shaming her, while his family talked about a convoluted plot led by Jay-Z to put Lanez in jail for being did not sign Roc Nation. deal with. It wasn’t until the recording of Lanes’ call to Meghan’s former friend from prison was released, and the public could hear everything but an apology for shooting Meghan, that some doubters realized that she might have been telling the truth. But why did they need to hear it from him when they already had so much other evidence, including Meghan’s testimony? Such is the power of misogyny. The legal victory in a guilty verdict is bittersweet because it seems Meghan cost the truth so dearly in court.

Speaking out about violence shouldn’t have such a high cost for black women. We can only hope that time and healing, as well as Lanes’ conviction and impending verdict, will help tip the scales in favor of speaking out.

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