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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Nicole Vassell

Tory Lanez’s jail sentence for shooting Megan Thee Stallion isn’t unfair – it’s a victory for Black women


For Megan Thee Stallion, the sentencing of former friend and fellow rapper Tory Lanez was a long time coming.

Just over three years ago, the exuberant, Grammy-winning artist was shot in both feet and had to have emergency surgery to remove the bullet fragments. Though the “Savage” star – real name Megan Pete – initially refused to name her assailant, she later identified him as Lanez, a Canadian artist on his way to global stardom.This week, a Los Angeles court found him guilty of first-degree assault and he will serve 10 years in prison.

To Lanez, his lawyers and his fans, the sentence is being condemned as a gross miscarriage of justice. “A grazed pinky toe does not equate to 10 years in jail,” one fan raged. Another chimed in: “Tory Lanez getting sentenced to 10 years for a shawty that was twerking shortly after the incident is disheartening to say the least.” For Black women, though, this is a rare victory in an industry that often prefers to overlook criminal convictions when there’s money to be made. Despite facing higher rates of violence, Black women are rarely awarded sympathy for the experiences they go through. In an ideal world, Megan – the victim – would have been flooded with support after the world learned of her ordeal. Of course, this wasn’t the case.

Ever since the 28-year-old first accused Lanez of shooting her, she has faced a backlash from her peers as well as online. She has been accused her of lying about the details of the incident, and for being a part of sending yet another Black man to prison... never mind the fact that she was the person with shrapnel in her foot. As a Black woman, Megan does not fit the “perfect victim” profile. Therefore, to many, she’s fair game. Her pain has been sidelined, her account discarded simply because she dared to speak out.

Soon after the July 2020 incident, Lanez began taunting her with comments in the press, as well as in song. Released two months after the shooting, his album Daystar included lyrics that declared: “I ain’t do it”, alleged that “Megan[’s] people trying to frame me for a shooting” and even questioned the rapper’s injury: “How the f*** you get shot in your foot, don’t hit no bones or tendons?”

Other Black men sadly joined in, including Drake, who made an aside about her on his 2022 track “Circo Loco”, where he rapped: “This b**** lie ‘bout getting shots, but she still a stallion.” Given Megan had expressed her pain over the incident, why did Drake, who loves to position himself as a ladies’ man, think it was okay to mock her? In July 2021, controversial rapper DaBaby – who had previously collaborated with Megan – brought Lanez out immediately after her performance at Rolling Loud Miami. The Daily Beast reported court documents filed by Megan’s lawyers later accused DaBaby and Lanez of attempting to “ambush” her, in violation of the protective order.

It’s outrageous to expect Megan to not push back, and it’s precisely her lack of silence that has angered detractors. There is an expectation of Black women to be supportive of Black men regardless of whether it is in their own interest. Black women also show up in cases of feminism, spearheading movements such as #MeToo that advocate for the rights of all women. But they regularly face a double prejudice along racial and gender lines. Misogynoir, the term describing the specific negative bias towards Black women, means that we often do not receive the same level of understanding and allyship that we are assumed to provide others.

“Stop using my shooting for clout!” Megan tweeted, in one of several instances of her having to defend herself. “Since when [the f***] is it cool to joke about women getting shot! … Ready to boycott bout shoes and clothes but dog pile on a black woman when she say[s] one of y’all homeboys abused her.” Every time Megan has stood up for herself, fans like me have rejoiced, because it is undeniably powerful to see her to advocate on her own behalf in the face of such widespread negativity. For any Black woman who’s experienced similar abuse, she’s an inspiration.

Megan Thee Stallion
— (Getty Images for CMT)

Megan has also spoken about the toll on her mental health. Though a wealth of fans have sung her praises, the “Hot Girl Summer” star admitted the kindness is often overpowered by the intensity of the backlash against her. “Any support and empathy that I received was drowned out by overwhelming doubt and criticism from so many others,” she wrote earlier this year in Elle.

Before Lanez was sentenced, the judge was presented with letters of support from more than 70 people, allegedly including one from Australian artist Iggy Azalea. It’s unfortunate, given that the “Fancy” rapper has long been criticised for appropriating Black women’s aesthetics and vernacular, that she was unable to stand behind a Black female peer in her time of need. When the moment came to give support to a Black woman whose creativity and talent surpasses her own, Azalea failed. Meanwhile, artists such as Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and Janelle Monae have spoken up for Megan, with Kehlani and JoJo going so far as to remove Lanez from their respective collaborations as a result of his behaviour.

It would be easy to view Lanez’s sentence as another case of the US justice system being heavy-handed towards Black men. It’s true that Black people make up 38 per cent of all incarcerated people in US prisons, despite representing only 12 per cent of the population. But this sentence was, in fact, a rare occasion of a man with both money and entertainment industry power actually facing consequences for his actions.

There’s no saying that Lanez won’t go on to enjoy more musical success. Chris Brown, who has faced allegations of violence from multiple women in the years since his conviction for attacking then-girlfriend Rihanna, recently went on a lucrative international tour. Kodak Black reached the Top 20 in the Billboard Album Charts this year, despite previously being charged with rape and sexual assault.

For now, Lanez has faced the consequences of his actions. For Black women in particular, it’s a win.

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