Today, The New York Times published a visual essay by Megan Thee Stallion together with an opinion piece titled "Why I Speak Up for Black Women." The video grapples with a complex question: What does it mean to be a woman of color?
In just over a minute-and-a-half, the rapper skewers the impossible cultural standard set for women of color. She lays out a minefield of paradoxical demands, including but not limited to "loving herself, but not too much, because then she’s conceited," while "being his lady in the street, but his freak in the sheets."
Malcolm X's observation, “the most disrespected person in America is the Black woman,” is sampled alongside a litany of impossible expectations asked of women of color today: "Constantly having to prove she’s a victim" while "not being able to express her traumas" ring especially true in light of the rapper's treatment by the media after she was shot earlier this year.
There's no need to read between the lines, though. Megan Thee Stallion's opinion piece does not mince words, nor does it shy away from the traumatic events of recent months.
"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," she wrote, before explaining that her initial silence was borne of fear, for her friends and herself. "Even as a victim, I have been met with skepticism and judgment."
What most powerfully illustrates her thesis is that, at every stage, Megan Thee Stallion has demonstrated strength, resilience, and honesty, yet she was met with suspicion while her trauma was memeified and satirized.
Her words, which you can read in full here, are a powerful political statement, but they are also a testament to the grueling lengths Black women need to go to in order to be seen and believed.