The Duchess & Thee Stallion: A Tale of Two Megs and their fight to be Believed
This is a story about two women sharing the same name, both beautiful, Black central figures in current conversations about self-advocacy and justice; and both fighting to be seen, heard, and believed in courts of law and public opinion.
I write this from the desk in my home office, fresh after viewing the final episodes of the new Netflix series Harry and Meghan, a deeply personal account of the royal couple's unprecedented journey, presented for the first time in their own words. Penning this post will undoubtedly delay my attendance at a family Christmas party, but that will have to wait, as there is a much more important conversation to be had with my community while sitting in these feelings at this exact time. As I type, bouldered emotions sit heavy in my spirit, like an elephant resting on a human chest, with my mind drawing the parallels between the two Megs - The Duchess and The Stallion - whose names have led countless headlines over the past few years. While I don't know either woman personally, I admire each for their transparency in the face of public atrocities committed against their character. I may not know them, but I know what it's like to be a Black woman in a world that seeks to write its own version of her story. And while my challenges pale in comparison to theirs playing out on social media and the public stage, it is through the common thread of their resilience that I have developed a deep sense of honor and respect. It's with all of this in mind, that I beg my community to remember that the rallying cry to protect Black women, also applies to these two.
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex
Meghan Markle married Prince Harry of the United Kingdom on May 19, 2018, becoming the first woman of color in modern history to marry into the British Monarchy. Her marriage into House Windsor carried immense symbolism for the country and the family alike, leading many Black Brits and people across the diaspora to hope that this union signaled a turning point for the royals. Largely standing as a symbol of Old World opulence and tradition, the last hundred years has seen the monarchy often struggle to find its footing during challenges to modernize and keep pace with the ever-changing contemporary world. As Britain's longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II had steered her house through a number of scandals laced with numerous taboos of her day, including divorce and death. Her House was one of many in Old Europe known for its great lengths to preserve the "purity" (i.e., whiteness) of the bloodline, but finally, in 2018, the world saw a young, independent, successful, divorced, biracial, American woman marrying a British Prince, thus breaking many of the social barriers that had dictated, or dissolved, past royal pairings. Finally, here was a turning point and a symbol of change...or so we thought.
Almost immediately after their engagement and nuptials captivated millions around the globe, Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex found herself at the forefront of the British tabloids, with growing unpopularity. Despite the similarities drawn between her and the late Princess Diana, mother of Prince Harry and often called "The People's Princess" for her demeanor and humanitarian efforts, Meghan soon became the subject of a relentless slander campaign driven by the British media. Using every thinkable trope of racial bias against Black women, she was painted by tabloid writers as a bully to her in-laws, domineering spouse to her husband, and a disagreeable, uncivilized woman from the American ghetto who wasn't worthy of sharing the same space as royalty. As is custom, negativity sold papers and amassed millions of clicks online, making the falsehoods spread like wildfire. Meghan and Prince Harry discuss the full experience and aftermath of these attacks in their independently produced Netflix series, so I won't spoil the details here; but ultimately, the toll of racism and bullying from the media and within the royal family compromised Meghan's health, safety, and drove her toward the temptation to take her own life. Seeing the parallels between her and his mother's experiences, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, took unprecedented measures to intervene for the protection of his wife and children.
Thanks to his advocacy, their collective sacrifice in taking a "step back" from their roles as senior royals, significant protective assistance from other Black stars like Tyler Perry, and now a legal win against The Daily Mail for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement, Meghan Markle leads a much more peaceful life. But it was hard fought through years of turmoil that almost broke her.
Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Pete, known by her stage moniker "Megan Thee Stallion," has been a staple in headlines since she skyrocketed into mainstream hip-hop success in 2018. With songs like "Big Ole Freak," "Plan B," and "WAP" promoting female sexuality, sex-positivity, and mental health, the raptress has walked through the doors opened by her predecessors and continued thundering down virgin paths as she, and peers like Cardi B. and City Girls, continues to blaze a new trail. She has been both praised and condemned for her raunchy lyrics, even though sexually explicit lyrics are far from atypical in Hip-Hop. When a man chants detailed instructions for how a woman should "Slob on [his] Knob," or swipes a credit card down a woman's butt crack in a music video, there's no issue; but when Thee Stallion says that she "ain't lying about [her] nut just to make a n**** happy," or "if it don't hang, then he can't bang," while grinding in her own music video, it's a problem. The gender-based double standard around sexuality in Hip-Hop is as old as the genre itself, and unfortunately has influenced the undertone of discussions about Megan in the recent months leading to the trial of her alleged shooter, Tory Lanez.
To paraphrase the story, in August 2020, Megan alleged that Lanez shot her in the feet in after an altercation that began at a party they both attended in July. When the story originally broke about Lanez's arrest, it was reported that Megan had sustained injuries after stepping on glass. Later, however, she stated that she had undergone foot surgery after sustaining gunshot wounds to her feet and identified Lanez as the shooter. After two years of disputing claims between the two in music, on social media, and in interviews, Lanez trial finally began last week. Many people, especially Black women, have come to Megan's defense in the time since the allegations were initially made, but social media commentary has suggested that men have been more hesitant to believe her claims, with some outright dismissing them. Those who don't believe Megan often defend their doubt with arguments rooted in the criticism of the sex her music and persona, which are then used to discount her character. It's slut shaming in its ugliest form. Megan the Stallion has been open about her battles with mental health in the past, and when she took the stand to testify last week, she described how this situation has added to those challenges, admitting, "I don't feel like I want to be on this earth. I wish he would have just shot and killed me, if I knew I would have to go through this torture."
Here's the point that we should all take from the stories of Meghan Markle and Megan Thee Stallion:
We must stop condemning Black women who come forward with the truth of their traumatic experiences. It is unjust for us to continue gaslighting those who come forward with their traumas, while shielding the male forces hurting them, from accountability.
Some of the same social media intellectuals wondering why people like DJ tWitch silently succumb to their demons, turn around and condemn women like The Duchess and Thee Stallion for being honest about their struggles. Their trauma is discussed as though they somehow deserve it; for marrying a white royal, or for being just as explicit as the countless men screwing women in every position imaginable with their 16 bars of fame. If they aren't told that they deserved their pain, then these women are bombarded with reasons why they don't deserve our protection. Some said that Meghan Markle didn't deserve our defense because she wasn't Black enough, and Megan Thee Stallion doesn't deserve it because she twerks in leather costumes while rapping about "wet ass p***y."
No Black woman deserves the bad things that happen to her; not now, not ever. We can't exclaim that Black Lives Matter while invalidating Black women so terribly that they would rather be lifeless. All Black women are worthy of being seen, respected, protected, and believed.