Women are waiting – especially black women.
What an excuse. For regret. For a little 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 weapons charges in the Hollywood Hills shooting of fellow rapper Megan Thee Stallion, whose real name is Megan Pete.
The conviction comes more than two years after Stallion told police that Lanez attacked her during an argument that started while he was driving in an SUV along Nichols Canyon Road. When she asked to get out, he shot at her feet – apparently yelling: “Dance, b—!”
The injuries were so severe that she had to undergo surgery to remove bullet fragments from her left heel.
The victim in this case has always been clear. And yet, you wouldn’t know it from the misogynistic rant 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,” Stallion testified earlier this month. “It’s only been about who I’ve had sex with.”
In fact, hoping to clear Lanez’s name, defense attorneys tried 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 — their client.
Even more egregious was Lanez himself, who released an entire album—not his most popular, but not a flop, either—about how he was accused of shooting Stallion and insinuating that she had lied about the whole ordeal.
“How the hell do you get shot in the foot,” he rapped, “don’t hit bone or sinew?”
And instead of pushing back, the response from the wider 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 stud.”
This is precisely why #BelieveBlackWomen and #ProtectBlackWomen were trending on Twitter after the verdict. Stallion has long ago pointed out how neither usually happens.
“I was recently subjected to an act of violence by a man. After a party I was shot twice when I walked away from him. We weren’t in a relationship. Honestly, I was shocked that I ended up in that place,” she wrote in an article 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 judgement. The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I played a role in my own violent abuse, proves that my fear of discussing what happened was unfortunately justified.”
On Friday, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón praised Stallion’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, alluding to the women who testified against rapist Harvey Weinstein. “This trial, for the second time this month, highlighted the many ways our society must do 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 sixfold since 1970 – twice the rate of the male population.
And there is a fine line between women who are incarcerated and women who are victims.
Often, black women end up behind bars due to a combination of poverty, addiction, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong man.
So I’ll remind you again of Lanez’s attorneys’ craven strategy to convince the jury that Stallion’s former best friend, Kelsey Harris, was indeed the shooter.
It obviously didn’t work. Lanez now risks more than 20 years in prison.
But a conviction does not necessarily mean that Stallion will receive the apologies she is due, much less see any of the remorse, humility and self-awareness I mentioned. The legion of influencers who have made endless excuses for Tory Lanez were very quiet on Friday.
Except for Lanez’s father. In the minutes after the verdict was read and Superior Court Judge David Herriford set a sentencing date for late January, he jumped up from his courtroom seat and began yelling at prosecutors.
“This evil system!” he said, my colleagues James Queally and Jonah Valdez reported. “You are evil! You know exactly what you did!”
Outside, after sheriff’s deputies escorted him and other relatives from the courtroom, Lanez’s father continued to rant, cursing record label Roc Nation for allegedly rigging the trial and promising a payback from on high.
“It’s not over! It’s NOT over,” he shouted. “God doesn’t lose!”
Or maybe this isn’t about God.
Maybe Lanez is just guilty. And maybe it’s time, once and for all, that we believe and protect black women.