Megan Thee Stallion:
Why I'm Speaking Up
I don't dread ridicule, and "Protect Black Women" shouldn't be divisive.
Black women are predicted to attract Democratic candidates again in the weeks leading up to the election. We've gone from being forbidden to vote legitimately to a highly-courted electoral bloc — all in little over a century.
Despite this and despite the fact so many have adopted social awareness messages this year, black women are still continuously disrespected in so many aspects of existence.
Recently, I was victim to a man's abuse. I was fired twice during a party when I walked away. We didn't have a friendship. Truly, I was surprised that I ended up there.
My initial silence about what happened was my and my friends' apprehension. Even as a survivor, cynicism and judgement reached me. The way people asked and argued openly whether I played a part in my own aggressive attack proves that my suspicions of what happened were, sadly, justified.
After a lot of self-reflection, I found that violence against women is not always linked to being in a relationship. It happens because so many men regard all women as objects, which makes them excuse abussing us when we want to practice our own freewill.
From the moment we start exploring adolescence's intricacies, we sense the weight of this threat and the weight of conflicting perceptions and misplaced preconceptions. All of us begin to understand how people view us. That's if we're seen.
The problem is much more intense for Black women battling stereotypes and being seen as angry or threatening as we want to stand up for ourselves and our mothers. There's not much room for enthusiastic activism if you're Black.
I recently used the "Saturday Night Live" platform to sharply condemn attorney general Daniel Cameron for his appalling behavior in refusing Breonna Taylor and her family justice. I expected any backlash: anybody who takes the example of Congressman John Lewis, the late titan of civil rights, and makes "healthy trouble, required trouble," risks being targeted by those satisfied with the status quo.
Still what do you know? I don't dread scrutiny. We live in a democracy where we can critique government leaders. And it's absurd some people find the term "Protect Black Women" is divisive. We deserve protection as humans. And we're entitled to our indignation at a long list of mistreatment and abuse we suffer.
Maternal death rates for black mothers are almost three times higher than for white mothers, a strong indication of health care ethnic inequality. In 2019, according to the Civil Rights Movement, an astronomical 91% of transgender or non-gender individuals fatally shot were Black.
Beyond threats to our health and futures, we face too many everyday decisions and mixed messages.
When we dress in tailored dresses, our curves become a subject of debate not just on social media, but also at work. The fact that Serena Williams, the best athlete in any sport ever, had to excuse herself for wearing a bodysuit at the 2018 French Open indicates how unfounded the fascination with the bodies of Black women is.
I 'd know that. For appearance and my talent, I earned quite some recognition. I choose my clothes. Let me repeat: I chose what I wear, not because I want to cater to men, but because I'm proud of my looks, and a healthy body image is fundamental to who I am as a woman and artist. I esteem women's compliments even more than men's. But the comments on how I chose to portray myself were also judgmental and cruel, with many believing I dress and act for male gaze. If women want to capitalize on our sexuality, we are vilified and disrespected to regain our own control.
Women are opposed in every industry, but particularly in hip-hop, where it seems as though the male-dominated ecosystem can accommodate just one female rapper at a time. People have sought to pit me against Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, two phenomenal entertainers and independent women. Nobody's "new;" we're all special in our own ways.
Wouldn't it be good if Black girls weren't overwhelmed with derogatory, sexist attacks on Black women? When they're told instead of the many important things we've achieved? It took a big motion picture, "Missing Figures," to bring NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson to the world. I wish I had heard about this story and other worldly milestones in school: that Alice H. Parker patented the first home boiler, or that Marie Van Brittan Brown developed the first home protection device. Or that Black women, so much in the shadows of those milestones, truly led the civil rights movement. Note that six of the Little Rock Nine students whose courage in 1957 contributed to school integration were Black girls. And that Rosa Parks displayed immense courage as she declined to move to the "brown section." I wish every little black girl was told that Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi co-founded Black Lives Matter.
Rolling the road paved by icons like Shirley Chisholm, Loretta Lynch, U.S. Senator Maxine Waters and first Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate, Carol Moseley Braun, my dream is that Kamala Harris' vice presidential nomination would inaugurate a period in which black women no longer "make history" in 2020 to do things that should have been done decades earlier.
But it'll take time, and black women aren't innocent. We know that after the last ballot is cast and the vote is counted, we are likely to return and fight for ourselves. And right now, that's what we have.
Megan Thee Stallion is an entertainer, philanthropist, entrepreneur.