By: Escher Walcott
During the early stages of her career, Rapper Megan Thee Stallion has been able to win the loyalty of her fans through her confident persona. However, after being the victim of a shooting in early July, this same love that Megan used to receive, has been nowhere to be found. After the shooting made news headlines, social media timelines were crowded with rumors centered around the accident, as well as insensitive jokes targeted towards Megan. Even celebrities, like Chrissy Teigen and 50 Cent, participated in posting memes and gags centering around Megan’s trauma (which both have since apologized for). In response, Megan responded, ‘it was the worst experience of my life and it’s not funny’. So, why the widespread mockery?
Megan’s self-assured and sex-positive personality has led to individuals dehumanizing both herself and her experiences, as well as the inability to display compassion towards her. This is due to Black women in the media being portrayed as caricatures of themselves and therefore aren’t taken seriously. This nature is also very destructive to the wellbeing of Black women, and the problems they suffer. For example, on the reality show, The Housewives of Atlanta, cast member Eva Marcelle was teased for having bad credit, after the other cast members found out she was renting homes around Atlanta. Later on, Eva confessed that the only reason she was moving around, was to get away from her daughter’s estranged father, Kevin McCall, who had allegedly been abusive towards her in the past. After hearing this, the castmate, Marlo, stated, “[…] he ain’t after you like that.” This insensitive response only further highlights how casually black women’s plights aren’t taken seriously within their community.
“According to recent reports from 2019, 91% of the 22 transgender women who died during that year were black women.”
When it comes to physical violence, the Institute of Women’s Policy report states that over 41.2% of black women are victims, in comparison to White women under 30% and Asian women under 30% as well. Sadly, this percentage is probably much higher, because many cases often go unreported because of the shame women feel. As Marcelle stated, “It’s something that makes you feel so little that you really don’t want to talk about it, but you have to.” Misreports are a major reason as to why Black women’s suffering goes unnoticed, especially within the trans community. According to recent reports from 2019, 91% of the 22 transgender women who died during that year were black women. As of July 2020, at least 21 trans homicides have been recorded for the year so far, gearing up to be the worst number of murders yet since tracking began in 2013.
Society’s discounting of black trans lives and the traumas they face is as much a serious problem as it concerns cis-gender black women. Along with a lack of family and socio-economic support, the community suffers cultural invisibility due to being left out of media and politics, causing trans black women to also be dehumanized and therefore more exposed to violent abuse. Black women are most vulnerable to attack in society, whether online or physical and so we’re conditioned to remain strong and vigilant – qualities tennis ace Serena Williams has been condemned for throughout her career. Williams’ passion on the court is too often exchanged for ‘aggressive’ and ‘mean’ performances in the press – typical adjectives assigned to the Angry Black Woman. This unfair perception of character cost her serious points during the 2018 US Tennis Open after she received violations for coaching and anger during the match. She lost what would have been her 24th Grand Slam win and paid a fine of $17,000 for her ‘misbehavior’ – a crazy penalty when you consider how Williams’ white male contenders have got away with much worse conduct. “(Women) are not allowed to have emotions, we’re not allowed to be passionate”, Williams spoke about her treatment in Harper’s Bazaar, “It’s shameful that our society penalizes women for just being themselves.”
As Black women, we are constantly expected to stay strong in silence and often receive backlash from society, when we decide to vocalize ourselves. This is because our strength is often weaponized against us and used as an excuse to throw insults and judgments, instead of offering support. As Megan questioned while tearing up on her Instagram live, “what if your sister got shot?…or girlfriend…? Would you be cracking jokes then? It’s just a respect thing.” That’s exactly it, plain and simple – and it’s what all black women deserve.