We can’t scream “protect Black women” and not answer the call to actually protect Black women. This is especially true in the hip-hop community. If you’ve followed the shooting of rapper Meg Thee Stallion allegedly by rapper Tory Lanez, and her subsequent dispute disputewith rapper DaBaby, then you know for many people in the hip-hop community the call to “protect Black women” is an empty platitude. We watched as Meg’s alleged shooter still received support from some of our favorite rappers and we cringed when even those we forgot, resurfaced on social media just to insert a joke that was both transphobic and dismissive of Meg’s pain. I guess they wanted to ensure the depth of their cruelty wouldn’t be disputed. Mission accomplished
It’s easier to shrug off the cruel dismissal of Black women’s pain when it’s coming from a rapper we don’t view as conscious, community-focused, or intellectual. However, when the lack of support or ridicule is coming from those who are viewed as “conscious rappers” and even leaders within the hip-hop community, the pain cuts deeper. We expect them to know better and be different. Hell, we expect them to at least show up for Black women in a way that is indicative of their “community-focused” actions. Instead, they are vocal about social justice issues that harm our community and silent when the "call is coming from inside of the house.". As a result, the same rappers who protest police violence and other forms of social injustice will often invoke their right to remain silent when Black women are the victims of violence at the hands of Black rappers.
This is not a contemporary issue nor is it exclusive to the hip-hop community. In the book “All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave,” Michele Wallace pens a brilliant essay entitled “A Black Feminists Search for Sisterhood.” She writes about the Black Consciousness Movement in 1968 and how she experienced it, stating:
“It took me three years to fully understand that Stokely was serious when he’d said my position in the movement was “prone,” three years to understand that the countless speeches that all began “the Black man…” did not include me.”
Sometimes in our community and by extension in hip-hop, it feels like some of our brothers are only speaking about the specific needs of other Black men when they talk about community building. Maybe the “conscious” rappers that failed to show up for Meg weren’t being inauthentic with their silence—perhaps they were being consistent. Maybe, just maybe, when they would hit the streets and give speeches about building and protecting our community they were never talking about Black women. If this is true then I can’t help but wonder who they feel they are in community with. If their silence around issues related to Black women’s well-being is any indication, then it looks like “community” doesn’t include me.
I want to believe that our socially "conscious" brothers, who built careers off amplifying the voices of the powerless, actually believe we are in community together. However, in regard to violence against Black women, their silence snatches the mic and screams something altogether different.
(Photo credit: IheartRadio)