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 .
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
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.
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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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find , there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecole exclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause , marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression , anxiety , like all of it, mental health challenges , all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry ’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy . If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures , and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood , her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff , which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You , which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “ On My Mama ” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour . So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood