By Kelly Stephens
Fierce, sexy, authentic — fans believe that Megan Thee Stallion embodies all of these words and more. Particularly admired by black women and men across the country, she has made her presence known for all to see.
The rapper’s appearance at the College on Nov. 19, 2019 was one for the ages, and her presence on campus has captured the attention of many minority students, making it still worth talking about.
Megan, whose real name is Megan Pete, is originally from Houston, Texas, and the 24-year-old has amassed a following like no other. Charismatic, funny and sickeningly Southern in the best of ways, with the rapping prowess to boot, it’s no surprise that black people, particularly black women, love her.
Megan, who has 8.9 million followers on Instagram and 2.2 million on Twitter, has generated a loyal and devoted fan-base known as “The Hotties.” Taking America by storm, her lyrics are unapologetically and confidently sexual, making her known as the hype-man for black girls across the country.
Many black students were taken aback that Megan chose to perform at a predominantly white institution, especially one as small as the College.
“I was really surprised,” said Victoria Desir, a freshman philosophy major. “I saw a couple of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) on her Instagram where she was performing. I thought if she was going to come to New Jersey, she was going to a much bigger school, like Rutgers New Brunswick. But she came here and I thought that was really cool.”
For some students, an influential artist like Megan has proven to be a powerful force in their lives, inspiring them to manifest both bravery and empowerment.
“I think she makes me feel empowered to be an African-American woman, to be empowered within my sexuality,” said Faith Christian, a freshman computer science major.
Even as more female rappers gain popularity in the American music industry, such as Doja Cat, Rico Nasty, Tierra Whack and City Girls, Stallion’s presence is indicative of a significant change in the music industry.
“I feel like 2019 was a great year for black female rappers, and she’s one of the standout ones,” Desir said.
Many students may have been surprised to see Megan perform on campus due to the demographics of the student body. 64.6 percent of the student body is white, 12.9 percent is Hispanic or Latino, 10.9 percent is Asian and 6.4 percent is black, according to a 2019 Forbes ranking.
By allowing Megan to make her mark on campus, there have been changing attitudes for students on what it means to be recognized and fully seen as a student on campus.
“It is highly important that she is performing at a PWI because it shows that CUB is focused on reaching different types of people,” said Tia Suggs, a sophomore economics major. “Based on my freshman year, I struggled to have fun at several TCNJ events because I personally felt that things here were not created for black people to also have fun. Because of that issue, I barely took pride in my school socially— only academically. But since Megan came, I have been proud to be a part of TCNJ, because now I feel that my thoughts are included in the decisions of CUB and TCNJ.”
When prompted, many of the students believed that the rapper’s presence on campus has allowed them and their culture to be further represented and acknowledged on campus.
“I definitely did feel represented knowing that Megan was performing,” Suggs said. “Never would I have thought that TCNJ would bring a black female rapper to be the main show for the fall concert, especially at a predominantly white institution. Last year, TCNJ brought PnB Rock, a black male rapper/singer, and I was already satisfied with that. Yet, Megan’s presence on campus made me realize that African-American women are not forgotten.”
The rapper’s concert came at a time when racial tensions on campus are still in recovery. In November 2018, a group of white students yelled the n-word at a group of black students from the window of their dorm.
“It was a hard time emotionally last fall semester, and we hoped that TCNJ would change from then,” Suggs said.
Students have also acknowledged that while the concert was a means for black students to feel seen and represented, it does not negate the racial makeup or the racial tension that exists on campus.
“I think (the concert) adds to me being seen…it just felt good to see her,” Desir said. “But I don’t think that changes any of the racial makeup of TCNJ. It doesn’t change classroom conversations or rhetoric between black and white students.”
For some students, the concert was used as a bridge to bring students together.
“Although there wasn’t a majority of white people, they were still there,” Christian said. “It was really interesting to have them, to see them enjoy Megan just as much as we enjoy her. Even in the upcoming days, everyone was listening to her, streaming her music and trying to prepare for her concert so that they could actually enjoy her. That was pretty cool to see.”
While Megan’s lyrics heavily contain the n-word, the conversation surrounding its use is convoluted and often dangerous to navigate.
“Her music is just meant to be fun,” Rivers said. “It doesn’t have a deep meaning to it, so I don’t know if it can diffuse racial tensions. If someone were to sing her songs, and they weren’t black it would be an issue (because of the n-word in songs). That’s where racial tensions can come about, even if it is a part of the song. Sometimes it can be that they want to make a mockery of it, and that can cause more issues than it’s meant to dissolve.”
The fear of their culture being made into a mockery by the white majority is another prevalent fear among black students. But among this fear is hope for a more inclusive community, and having Megan on campus proved to be a step towards that goal.
“Like I said, I didn’t expect them to have a black woman perform on campus,” Christian said. “I think it was great that someone in the room thought of that, to invite Megan, and to give African-Americans on campus a chance to feel empowered.”