SOS: Self Advocacy Equals Survival

For centuries, Black women have been at the forefront of movements within their communities, and on national and global levels. Birthing and raising generations, protecting and shifting the culture, and selflessly advocating for everyone else’s needs without question has been the role we graciously assumed. Despite being the pulse that has kept many fights for justice and equity alive within the Black community, Black women are overlooked, dismissed, disrespected, and unprotected.

After announcing she'd been shot in her feet, going through extreme measures to prove the validity in her story, and facing public criticism and scrutiny, rapper and philanthropist Megan Thee Stallion used her platform to not only advocate for herself, but for Black women everywhere. In her New York Times opinion piece, Megan notes that following the lead of figures like the late Congressman John Lewis requires “good trouble, necessary trouble” can result in backlash, but she is unafraid. She briefly reflected on her experience and yielded attention to other issues.

In multiple aspects of life, Black women are expected to “save” society and that has been the message taught as early as adolescence. It is ironic that Black girls and women innately step up in support of others, but when that same support is needed in return, justification and validity from the court of public opinion are required before moves are made. The person, platform, nor headline provides us with the same level of solidarity. Our lives and safety become topics of debate even though those who are debating have no issue “promoting” the protection of Black women by quoting Malcolm X.

Often having to muster the strength to survive our day to day struggles, we now have to dig deeper into the depths of our existence to self-advocate. We have to be our own cheerleaders, our own source of empathy and sympathy, our own reassurance that we are going to be okay.

During Paris Fashion Week in 2016, Kim Kardashian was tied up and robbed at gunpoint at her apartment. Globally, media outlets broke the story, making it a major headline. While there were some skeptics of the validity of her situation, the outpour of support from fans, celebrities and other public figures was immaculate; however, for Black girls and women, zero to moderate coverage is provided when we are kidnapped, raped, murdered, or otherwise violated. In the video paired with her Op-Ed article, Megan stated, “[Being a woman of color means] constantly having to prove she’s a victim because society sides with the man… being murdered, beaten, abused, then questioned if she evoked all of it.” Nobody waited for Kim’s robbers to release an album to explain their side of the story in order to seek the truth. Nobody waited for her robbers to appear on Instagram Live in order to speak out to find out if she was lying.

Through social media, we have to be our own news outlet. We have to provide our own call to action. We have to believe each other the first time. We have to validate our own lives.

Although some Black women did not believe Megan’s story, the majority flocked to her side showing support. Many famous Black women sent her flowers or encouraging words on social media. In her moments of vulnerability and intense criticism, we stepped in affirming her, no longer supported her aggressor’s platform, and advocated that she receive justice.

We as Black women do not have the luxury of being tired of marching on the frontlines of our lives. If we stop, who is going to step in for us?

“...She marches for everyone else. Riots for everyone else. Dies for everyone else. She loves everyone else. Lives for everyone else. But when it comes down to her, it ain’t a mother fucker in sight!” - Megan Thee Stallion, New York Times

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