Women wait—especially black women.
For an apology. For regret. For some humility. Hell, even for a modicum of self-awareness.
But I’m not holding my breath for any of it.
On Friday, a jury convicted Tory Lanez, a Canadian rapper whose real name is Daystar Peterson, of assault and gun violence 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 Stallion told police Lanez assaulted her during an argument that began while he was driving in an SUV along Nichols Canyon Road. When she asked to get off, he shot her feet – apparently shouting, “Dance, b-!”
The injuries were so bad that she required surgery to remove bullet fragments from her left heel.
The victim was always clear in this case. And yet you wouldn’t know that from the misogynist mess that dominated the headlines and social media before and during the Los Angeles County Superior Court trial.
“This whole story wasn’t about the shooting,” Stallion testified earlier this month. “It was all about who I had sex with.”
Hoping to clear Lanez’s name, defense attorneys attempted to pin the shooting on another black woman, making a lame, male-ego-affirming argument that the two women got into a fight because they were attracted to the same man – her client.
Even more horrifying was Lanez himself, who released an entire album – which wasn’t his most popular, but it wasn’t a flop either – about how he was framed for shooting Stallion and accused of lying about the whole ordeal.
“How the hell do you get shot in the foot,” he tapped, “don’t hit bone or tendon?”
And instead of pushing back, the response from the wider hip-hop community has ranged from conspicuous silence to outright approval. Just last month, at 21 Savage, Drake rapped on his new song: “That lie about getting shot but she’s still a stud.”
This is exactly why #BelieveBlackWomen and #ProtectBlackWomen were trending on Twitter after the verdict. Hengst pointed out a long time ago that neither happens.
“I was recently the victim of an act of violence by a man. After a party, I was shot twice while walking away from him. We weren’t in a relationship. Honestly, I was shocked that I ended up in this 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 me and my friends. Even as a victim, I have faced skepticism and judgment. The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I had a role in my own violent attack proves that unfortunately my fears about speaking out about what happened were justified.”
On Friday, Los Angeles County Dist. atty George Gascón praised Stallion’s “incredible courage” to testify despite “repeated and grotesque attacks” on her character.
“Women, especially black women, are afraid to report crimes such as assault and sexual violence because too often they are not believed,” he said in a statement, alluding to the women who testified against rapist Harvey Weinstein. “This process has highlighted, for the second time this month, the many ways our society needs to become better for women.”
Even in California, women, especially black and queer women, are among the most vulnerable. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the female prison population has increased six-fold since 1970—twice as much as the male prison population.
And there is a fine line between women who are incarcerated and women who are victims.
Black women often end up behind bars in the wrong place with the wrong man because of a combination of poverty, addiction and the wrong time.
So, I’ll remind you again of the cowardly strategy used by Lanez’s attorneys to convince the jury that Stallion’s former best friend, Kelsey Harris, was really the shooter.
That obviously didn’t work. Lanez now face more than 20 years in prison.
But a conviction doesn’t necessarily mean that Stallion will get the apologies she deserves, let alone some of the remorse, humility, and confidence I mentioned. The legion of influencers who have endlessly apologized to Tory Lanez were mighty quiet on Friday.
Except for Lanez’s father. In the minutes after the verdict was read and Superior Court Judge David Herriford scheduled a hearing on the verdict for late January, he jumped from his seat in the courtroom and began yelling at prosecutors.
“This evil system!” he said, reported by my colleagues James Queally and Jonah Valdez. “You’re totally freaky! You know exactly what you did!”
Outside, after sheriff’s deputies escorted him and other relatives out of the courtroom, Lanez’s father continued to rant, cursing record label Roc Nation for allegedly rigging the process and promising compensation from above.
“It’s not over! It’s NOT over,” he cried. “God doesn’t lose!”
Or maybe this isn’t about God.
Maybe Lanez is just to blame. And maybe it’s time we black women believe and protect them once and for all.