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 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.
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. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports