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We Failed Megan. Point Blank And Period.

Black women need to stop being seen as guilty until proven innocent.

Her Voice

Whew. This one right here? It's a lot. Too much, to tell you the truth. Yet before I try to even merely scratch the surface of what I mean when I say that we failed Megan, by the mere chance that she sees/skims/reads this (or someone who is actually close to her and is resonating with her pain in ways that fans and spectators simply cannot), I just want to say, on behalf of the entire xoNecole team, Megan, I am so sorry this happened to you. And by "this", there are layers.

I'm sorry that you were shot.

(Lord.)

I'm sorry that you being shot has been scrutinized since day one.

(Because it really doesn't matter how or why you got shot. YOU GOT SHOT.)

I'm sorry that a relational dynamic that you clearly wanted to remain private had to become public because you were scrutinized since day one.

I'm sorry that you felt that you had to post pictures of your wounds in order for skeptics, trolls and way-too-nosy people to believe you.

(I'm not gonna share those pics by the way. You deleted the pics, so I will honor that.)

I'm sorry that, during a time that should be really awesome for you, you've gotta be distracted by focusing on the trauma of the harm you were caused, compounded by the media, on top of all that what we don't know—that is absolutely none of our business.

I'm sorry that the Black community, as a whole, didn't rally around you; not because there aren't layers to the story but because you, as a Black woman, being harmed, by a Black man, is enough of a reason for you to get our full support. Because Black men should never harm a Black woman. And Black women should never harm a Black man. We are royalty. This is beneath us.

I'm sorry because, whenever harm is done to one of us, especially at the hands of one of us, we need to immediately call that to the carpet—loudly and clearly. Black people have to contend with enough. Us hurting one another—or not holding ourselves accountable if/when we do—is something that should never be a part of our narrative. Yet it is. Far too often. Unfortunately and disgustingly so.

I'll admit that "sorry" is not a usual go-to word (I prefer "apologize" which is another article for another time). But as a writer, I strive to be word-specific and "sorry" is exactly what I mean in Megan's case because one definition of the word is "feeling regret, compunction, sympathy, pity, etc.". And yes, after watching her video last night—one that confirmed that she was indeed shot by Tory Lanez—profound feelings of sympathy are exactly what transpired. That, along with regret that it took a lot of us watching that video to actually speak up and out. For that, Megan, I am also sorry.

If we're paying attention to this thing called life, other people's experiences can be teachable moments. Not only can they; they should be. Not only that but, whenever we fail others, it's a chance to do better. This is what I will strive to do, via some of the Twitter outcries from others who, I believe, are seeing Megan's current situation as, not gossip or fodder, but a rallying cry for us to do better. Much better. It's past time.

"Black Women Do Not Deserve This Sh*t."

If you haven't seen the video of Megan sharing what transpired the night she was shot, you can check out Baller Alert's post of it here. Even though it's just a little over five minutes long, what she's saying is really a lot to take in. Megan trying to walk away from an argument. Tory shooting her when she did. Megan being hesitant to say anything, even while she's bleeding, because police officers are suspect AF (if you want to get to the root of law enforcement, check out "How the U.S. Got Its Police Force" and when it comes to Megan's justified fear, check out "US police kill up to 6 times more black people than white people"). Megan going to the hospital and automatically being treated as a suspect. SMDH. Us constantly being treated so poorly, as a people in this country, that Megan didn't even feel comfortable being vulnerable with her medical team. Megan talking about trying to spare Tory, in spite of him shooting her (SHOOTING HER). Tory not being in jail right now because she didn't reveal that he shot her (SHOT HER). Megan doing a PSA in spite of her trauma ("Stop acting like Black women are the [MF'in] problem. Stop acting like Black women are aggressive, when all they be doing is speaking the [MF'in] facts…stop lying on people."). Megan asking folks to stop speaking on the situation like they were there when they weren't (a point that applies to ALL of us, by the way).

As a writer, a quote that I made up and try live by is, "Not everyone can write but all of us love to edit." What I mean by that is, whenever we either read about someone's life (or a version of it) or even when they offer us the privilege of knowing some things out of their own mouth, it's so easy for us to up and decide what is really going on or to determine what they should (or should not) have done, while serving as the very unsolicited judge and jury. Unfortunately, Megan is absolutely no exception to this reality. In fact, she's actually a roaring example right now. Yet we've got to keep in mind that, regardless of whatever we don't know—and may never know—her five-minute share was more than enough.

To be assaulted (assaulted means "a violent, sudden attack") by someone you know, to feel like you can't trust law enforcement or medical staff to protect you, and then to be berated constantly by cyberspace—we don't need one more detail of this instance. That is enough to come to a full conclusion that what happened to Megan was dead-ass wrong, on a few levels.

A Black man harming her. Dead-ass wrong. Being a citizen of a country where you can't trust the people put into position to protect you to do just that. Dead-ass wrong. Being basically cyberbullied into sharing aspects of your life before you want to and/or are ready. Dead-ass wrong. For this, Tory, the cops and medical team who came into Megan's path, along with anyone didn't apply the golden rule when it came to whatever they posted/shared about this totally f—ked up situation—all of these folks owe Megan a profoundly heartfelt apology. What's to debate about this? Absolutely nothing.

Please Keep That Same Energy

Yes Bree. Good point. I can't tell you how many white evangelicals I had side-eye discussions with about "WAP" while Jerry Falwell, Jr. was out here taking (and posting) pics with this pants unzipped and Trump—perhaps the most misogynistic man on the planet—is up for a second nomination (y'all…Y'ALL). Aside from the fact that Proverbs 5:15 instructs husbands to drink from their wife's cistern (look up the definitions of cistern sometime) and Song of Solomon not being exactly PG-rated, the hypocrisy of it all? Whew!

By no means am I trying to cram "WAP" down anyone's throat. You have every right to not like it, to find it to be in poor taste and/or to feel, however it is that you do, because, indeed, bullying can go both ways (you don't have to like or support what is popular…not at all).

But damn—the amount of think pieces against the song that exist vs. the silence that has transpired when one of the artists featured on the same song has shared that she was shot by someone else in the industry is literally disgusting. Y'all got time to be upset about a normal biological function but not violence against women? And by "y'all", I mean anyone who took precious time out of their day to denounce a song but somehow can't find a fraction of that same time to acknowledge that a woman being assaulted is egregiously vile.

And here's the thing—"WAP" is debatable; violence against women isn't. Ever. Anyone who's determined that they are a moral authority, Romans 13:10 tells us that love doesn't harm its neighbor. Silence is a cryptic and complicit form of causing harm. The reason why I say that is because, if blatant sexuality offends you then violence against women should absolutely outrage you. Does it? Has it?

Fellas, Where You At? Really?

I have been very open (and unapologetic) about the fact that I am a complementarian. That is someone who believes that men and women are equal in value yet have different strengths and weaknesses that serve to complement and balance one another; especially in relationships. So, I am definitely not the one who spends my time talking about how trash men are or how much women don't need them. Let me tell it, the PTSD of slavery has Black men and Black women constantly going at each other for sport (again, SMDH). Yet, at the same time, because I am a complementarian, I wholeheartedly believe that men are to play a very vital role in protecting women; not because women can't protect themselves, but we simply shouldn't have to alone.

That said, there is not one scenario where it would make sense to me that a man would shoot a woman who is trying to deflect a situation, so it goes without saying that Tory failed at a part of his responsibility of being a man, miserably so. Yet, I've gotta agree with Jasmyn on this one too. While I can't speak for all men in the world, I will say that I did some due diligence this morning to see what men—especially men with a platform—had to say about Megan's video and, for the most part, you could hear a pin drop. Again, silence can be complicit and, to be honest, it shouldn't be a "matter of opinion or perspective" for men want to totally take the "WTF?!" approach to hearing that a woman has been harmed; especially by one of their own. It should be a natural reaction, to tell you the truth. The fact that it's not, means that our community is also failing when it comes to men unconditionally supporting women who've been put into harm's way—because that is a trait of masculinity. Isn't it?

Megan spoke truth when she said that so many individuals are already and automatically against us as Black people. This means that if anyone should have our backs, it should be us. Black women should not just feel safe around Black men—ALL BLACK MEN—but we should also feel that, when a man isn't operating in the knowledge of what he is supposed to do and who he is supposed to be, other Black men will rebuke and correct him…because that, too, is a form of protecting us. And of being a responsible male human being. No man should have to know Megan personally to be outraged that she was harmed.

It takes a village to do a lot of things. Supporting others through their trauma and healing is definitely on the list. Fellas, where you at?

Stop Expecting Black Women to "Carry" You All the Damn Time

Ugh. If I read one more tweet from a white liberal about how Black women are gonna save them—AGAIN. Lawd, please don't assume that white GOPs are the only opportunists out here. It's very common for Black people—especially Black women—to be used around election time, only to have our needs be totally discarded after votes are tallied and we carried this nation…one more time.

My point?

Black women are amazing. We're beautiful. We're brilliant. We're resilient as hell. We love hard and fiercely. We've got a connection to the Most High that is subhuman. Yes, all of this is true. Yet this assumption that our main or only purpose is to carry y'all—ANY AND ALL OF Y'ALL—is a form of abuse that isn't given the kind of PSA that it deserves. We are gifts to this world, not merely your fill-in-the-blank-whenever-you-need-a-blank-filled resource.

And that's what else makes me say, "I'm sorry" to Megan. I really do. For so many of us to be brought up, to see and/or to be pressured into thinking that we've got to put our own needs and desires aside, constantly, so that others are good, that isn't the indication of being a "strong Black woman". It's actually the sign of a total breakdown in the reality of how we, as Black women, are to be esteemed and treated; especially by Black men. Lord, can you imagine being harmed by someone you know, only to be expected to protect them, as you're trying to process actually being put into harm's way—at the same time? It's been past time for Black women to be required to have a high threshold of pain in order to represent our worthiness.

Sorry is about sympathy, remember? I've got sympathy for Megan in this area because I can totally relate. My molester didn't go to jail, shoot that man didn't even get arrested, because "Christians" decided for me that another approach needed to be taken without even asking how I felt (and I was a teenager at the time that I told). The victimizer was protected more than the victim. And that victimizer continues to violate boundaries (trying to contact me, speaking to me when he sees me, etc.) that were set, even to this day, because he wasn't held accountable from day one.

Surviving all of that trauma isn't a sign that I should've had to endure it. Megan surviving her trauma isn't a sign that should've had to endure hers either. It's a brutal insult to say or even believe that, since a Black woman could "take", whatever it was, it wasn't that bad. Again, WTF? We shouldn't have had to "take it" at all. Folks need to be strong enough to say that, on repeat, for generations to come.

I could go on for days. I really could. But if you're a Black woman reading this, I'm sure you can relate enough to where no more really needs to be said. At least not for now. I'll just conclude with, when I say that we, as a whole, failed Megan, I'm mostly coming from the definition of fail that is "to prove of no use or help to". The Dalai Lama once said, "If you can, help others. If you cannot do that, at least do not harm them." Harm isn't just physical injury. Harm is also mental damage and moral injury too. A sistah of ours was harmed. Before you judge, before you post, before you "edit"—are you about to help her or cause her further harm?

Far too many of us have already failed her by not asking this very question before now.

Let's help—satisfy a need, contribute strength and make things easier—from here on out, OK?

As a people, this should be a given.

Because it wasn't, again Megan, I'm truly sorry.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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