Season 46 of Saturday Night Live is in full swing after a brief period of being filmed virtually, and the show’s sketches made sure to cover most of the news cycle in-depth. But where SNL failed to address the chaos brought on by the uptick of police brutality against Black people, first time musical guest Megan thee Stallion came with the heat — and the hard facts.
SNL returned to studio 8H this weekend, kicking the show off with a bang. Alec Baldwin and Jim Carrey faced off as President Donald Trump and former Vice President in a mock presidential debate that was almost as chaotic as the real thing, and third-time host Chris Rock starred in a number of pandemic-themed sketches. It was a typical SNL episode, taking creative license to talk about everything that's going on in the world, but the writers 'room merely glossed over the civil unrest that has swept the country. There was no mention of the nationwide protests spurred by police violence against Black and brown communities.
Megan thee Stallion's first performance halfway through the show corrected that wrong. Her debut began with a performance of her viral hit "Savage," but the Houston rapper paused mid-twerk to address the state of the country. During the performance, the audio cut to a clip from Malcolm X's iconic 1962 "Who Taught You To Hate Yourself?" speech.
"The most disrespected, unprotected, neglected person in America is the Black woman," the late activist's voice was heard saying. "Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair, the colour of your skin, the shape of your nose? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?"
"[Daniel Cameron is no different than the sellout Negroes that sold our people into slavery," added a second clip voiced by Tamika Mallory, an activist who spoke openly against the Kentucky Attorney General after learning that Cameron did not seek charges against the officers responsible for the death of Breonna Taylor earlier this year. (The Attorney General claimed that the officers "were justified in their acts and their conduct" because they were defending themselves.)
Megan then took the time to speak on the importance of uplifting Black men and women, explicitly telling the audience in the studio and at home that Black lives matter.
"We need to protect our Black women and love our Black women," the rapper boldly declared onstage. "'Cause at the end of the day, we need our Black women. We need to protect our Black men and stand up for our Black men, because at the end of the day, we're tired of seeing hashtags of our Black men."
Taking to the stage to affirm the Black community and condemn the actions of a state politician is a huge deal for Megan because it was her very first SNL appearance. But as a Black woman who has also been personally subjected to a culture of violence and misogynoir and as an artist with a large Black following, using her platform to speak out against a culture of anti-Blackness was essential — especially when SNL had failed to address the issues at hand.