“Boys shouldn’t hit girls.” It’s something I heard a lot growing up. Boys can play rough with each other, but boys just don’t hit girls. Parents taught their sons that hitting a girl was plain wrong. No exceptions. It doesn’t matter whether things get heated at the playground or if she’s in your face during an argument — or at a rap concert.
Rappers shouldn’t hit girls.
On Thursday (October 27), Kevin Gates received six months in jail for assaulting a female fan. According to TMZ, the rapper was found guilty of battery, stemming from a 2015 incident at a Florida club in which he brutally kicked a fan in the chest while onstage. In the video, which is admittedly difficult to watch, the fan appears to grab at his shorts and he kicks her.
The 30-year-old Louisiana rapper claimed self-defense. He cited Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law (the same loophole used by George Zimmerman to murder Trayvon Martin) as justification for using force against the 18-year-old victim.
Gates sympathizers have rallied behind him, pointing to the fact that the judge was overly punitive (the prosecution recommended only 60 days in jail) and Brock Turner, the white teenager who only received 90 days for raping a fellow student. There’s no doubt that our justice system is flawed.
There are definitely biases against young Black and brown men, inconsistencies across state laws and, hell, some judges just don’t like rappers and choose to make an example of them.
That doesn’t change the fact that Kevin Gates shouldn’t hit girls.
Kevin Gates is a grown man. He has a wife. He is a father. As a decent human being, the very least he should know is that violence is wrong. It would be one thing if he was assaulted by 10 goons in a dark alley. This was one girl grabbing at him while he was standing onstage during a concert. Can we really say that his punishment fit her “crime”?
Newsflash: You’re famous, Kevin.
You’re an artist signed to a major record label. Your fans love you and they want to get close to you. The girl you kicked paid money to see you perform. Fans will ask for selfies, give you their phone numbers and just want to be around you. Does this mean that Kevin Gates should be the victim of unwanted advances? Of course not. He should never feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Most rappers hire security for that very reason and there’s no shame in it. Instead of treating a fan like she was gum on the bottom of his shoe, Kevin should have asked security to escort her out of the venue. As the performer, he has that power — and that responsibility.
Now, I’ll be honest: I’m not a Kevin Gates fan. Between his touting of #AllLivesMatter and admission of sleeping with his own cousin, he’s not my thing. But that doesn’t matter. I’m a fan of the late Big Pun but I hate that he beat his wife. I think Dr. Dre is a musical genius, but his past treatment of women makes my skin crawl. I love hip-hop but that doesn’t mean I condone violence. Silence is complacence.
Let’s be clear: Violence against anyone is wrong — woman, man, it doesn’t matter. In 2016, violence against women specifically is — finally — in the forefront. Donald Trump brags about grabbing women by the p***y because he’s a celebrity. Brock Turner gets a “boys will be boys” excuse because he’s white and privileged. We’re outraged and we should be. But that same outrage must be extended to Kevin Gates. Being a rapper doesn’t give you a hall pass to act a fool. Whether fair or not, the expectation is to be higher. Kevin Gates has a platform. He represents hip-hop and he has impressionable fans around the world. How he treats women — and how we treat this situation — sends a very important message.
(Photo: Johnny Nunez/BET/Getty Images for BET)