Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Erika D. Smith

Erika D. Smith: Megan Thee Stallion was right. But she's one of too many women who aren't believed

Women are waiting — especially Black women.

For an apology. For remorse. For some humility. Hell, for even a modicum of self-awareness.

But I'm not holding my breath for any of that.

On Friday, a jury convicted Tory Lanez, a Canadian rapper whose real name is Daystar Peterson, of assault and gun charges in the Hollywood Hills shooting of fellow rapper Megan Thee Stallion, whose real name is Megan Pete.

The verdict comes more than two years after Pete told police that Peterson attacked her during an argument that started while riding in an SUV along Nichols Canyon Road. When she asked to get out, he shot at her feet — apparently shouting, "Dance, b----!"

The injuries were so bad that she needed surgery to remove bullet fragments from her left heel.

The victim in this case has always been clear. And yet, you wouldn't know that from the misogynistic mess that dominated headlines and social media before and during the trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

"This whole story has not been about the shooting," Pete testified earlier this month. "It's only been about who I been having sex with."

Indeed, in hopes of clearing Peterson's name, defense attorneys tried to pin the shooting on another Black woman, trotting out a lame, male-ego-affirming argument about the two women getting into a fight because they were attracted to the same man — their client.

Even more awful was Peterson himself, who released a whole album — which wasn't his most popular, but wasn't a flop either — about how he was being framed for shooting Pete and insinuating that she had lied about the whole ordeal.

"How the f--- you get shot in your foot," he rapped, "don't hit no bones or tendons?"

And rather than push back, the response from the broader hip-hop community ranged from conspicuous silence to outright agreement. Just last month, Drake rapped on his new song with 21 Savage: "This b---- lie about getting shot but she still a stallion."

This is exactly why #BelieveBlackWomen and #ProtectBlackWomen were trending on Twitter after the verdict. Pete long ago pointed out how neither tends to happen.

"I was recently the victim of an act of violence by a man. After a party, I was shot twice as I walked away from him. We were not in a relationship. Truthfully, I was shocked that I ended up in that place," she wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times in late 2020.

"My initial silence about what happened was out of fear for myself and my friends. Even as a victim, I have been met with skepticism and judgment. The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I played a role in my own violent assault proves that my fears about discussing what happened were, unfortunately, warranted."

On Friday, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón praised Pete's "incredible courage" for testifying, despite "repeated and grotesque attacks" on her character.

"Women, especially Black women, are afraid to report crimes like assault and sexual violence because they are too often not believed," he said in a statement, which alluded to the women who testified against rapist Harvey Weinstein. "This trial, for the second time this month highlighted the numerous ways that our society must do better for women."

Even in California, women, particularly Black and queer women, are among the most vulnerable. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the female jail population has increased six-fold since 1970 — twice as much as the male population.

And there's a short line between women who are incarcerated and women who are victims.

Often, Black women end up behind bars because of some combination of poverty, addiction and being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong man.

So, I'll remind you again about Peterson's attorneys' craven strategy to convince the jury that Pete's former best friend, Kelsey Harris, was really the shooter.

That didn't work, obviously. Peterson now faces more than 20 years in prison.

But a conviction doesn't necessarily mean that Pete will receive the apologies she is due, much less see some of that remorse, humility and self-awareness I mentioned. The legion of influencers who have made endless excuses for Peterson were mighty quiet on Friday.

Except for Peterson's father. In the minutes after the verdict was read and Superior Court Judge David Herriford set a sentencing hearing for late January, he jumped up from his seat in the courtroom and started yelling at prosecutors.

"This wicked system!" he said, my colleagues James Queally and Jonah Valdez reported. "You are wicked! You know exactly what you did!"

Outside, after sheriff's deputies had escorted him and other relatives from the courtroom, Peterson's father continued ranting, cursing the record label Roc Nation for supposedly rigging the trial and promising a comeuppance from on high.

"It's not over! It is NOT over," he shouted. "God does not lose!"

Or maybe this isn't about God.

Maybe Peterson is just guilty. And maybe it's time, once and for all, that we believe and protect Black women.


Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.