One particular thing has bothered me about the response to BeylevatorGate, the recording of Solange Knowles assaulting Jay Z in a hotel elevator last week. It is an idea, an insidious and implied idea. It can be seen in statements such as “Well we don’t know what happened” or “There’s no telling what Jay did,” and in the hashtag #WhatJaySaidToSolange, which speculates about what Jay Z said to cause Solange’s actions. These statements imply that something could have “happened” that justifies violence, but we’re not sure either way so we should reserve judgement. That idea is incredibly dangerous, particularly for black women, for whom domestic homicide is a leading cause of death.
In my opinion no one of any gender can do or say anything to “deserve” physical violence, and the only exception is if you are putting someone else’s safety at risk with violence, necessitating them to respond with violence in self-defense.
People are speculating that Solange assaulted Jay Z to protect her sister Beyoncé. However it appears that Solange was not protecting herself nor Beyoncé from immediate physical harm. And it appears that Jay had an effective bodyguard there to protect him from any real physical harm. Therefore, it appears from a (very short, silent) video that neither Solange nor Jay should have been hitting or kicking anybody.
I implore us all to avoid using the #WhatJaySaidToSolange rhetoric as much as we possibly can . It gives credence to the idea that there’s actually something (nonviolent) that someone can do or say, something that could “happen” that justifies physical violence. There is not.
Right now, the rhetoric is being used to avoid judgement on the violence Solange enacted upon Jay. Ultimately, the prevailing response to Beylevatorgate helps legitimize the idea that violence can be “caused” by nonviolent words or actions- and that’s no good for women.