XXX TENTACION: Damaged Men V.S. The Women They Destroy

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By Chinemerem Onyeukwu Articles powered by MOXYE

Let’s start this by recognizing I will be speaking from the first person, I rather not pretend to be some neutral detached third party speaking from the heights of a distant journalistic Mt. Olympus passing some lukewarm opinion off as a thought piece for the masses. I believe the issue at hand demands more than just those usual platitudes. I will however offer nuance to a set of circumstances that has seemingly been cast as black and white. Due to the fact that in this era it seems like we are more polarized than ever in matters of thought. So dug into our ideological trenches that only singular truths can exist. For me amongst other things that tendency to be closed off to opinions that do not mirror your own will be our society’s undoing. Do not confuse things there are always universal truths that can not be and should not be tempered by nuance. However for this instance it is not the case.

On June 18th, five minutes before 4 pm outside a Deerfield Beach motorcycle dealership XXXTentacion (Jahseh Onfroy) was cut off from the front  by a vehicle. Then promptly blocked in to his rear by another vehicle, in short X was trapped. Street life knows this maneuver well, it was basic “hood military science” give your enemy no out, get the “drop” on them and complete the op. Following the sprung snare masked men approach the BMW i8 and demanded the money they had earlier watched X pull from an ATM (yes he was stalked). X being the young man he was, filled with rage and indignace gave no ground to assailants that objectifiable had him at a fatal disadvantage. So a struggle ensued resulting in the shooting of Onfroy. Injured, bleeding out from his neck X laid immobilized over the center console of his car as his would be murderers grabbed the cash they came for.

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All of this happened under the proud Florida sun in a rather populated area of town. In short the streets were watching and very soon so was the internet, onlookers in proper millennial fashion pulled out their phones and recorded  the lifeless body of Onfroy. Nearly instantly reports of the incident disseminated throughout social media spearheaded by videos of his body disabled in the car. That’s how Onfroy died as prey, fighting for his life only to fail and then have his broken body passed around on the internet from public examination. I do not give this account (collected from police reports and public witness accounts)  to glorify his last moments or cast him in some sympathetic light but this is how he died, fighting and scared.

 

As his death was confirmed social media was awash with a flurry of reactions, some indifferent to his violent demise, some vaulted into sadness and grief and some celebrating and condoning his death. This last reaction is where I find issue, the rhetoric deployed to validate jeering on a young man’s death was lackluster at best and at worst sadistic. In the case of Onfroy the rationale was that he was deserving of death because of the abuse he dealt out in life, that is the central conflict at the core of this conversation. Does an abuser deserve sympathy in death,and how does race and gender intersect into this discourse.

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So  let’s review X’s history of abuse, in his case this abuse was centered primarily around his relationship with his ex-girlfriend and would be child’s mother Geneva Ayala. Witnesses have affirmed his abusive tendencies so premising his actions as “accused” or “alleged” would be insensitive to his victims and disingenuous to this conversation. With Onfroy is wasn’t a question of if he was abusive but a question of just how abusive. His ex Geneva gives us tons of insight into the type of abuser he was, in a Miami New Times interview she talks in depth about what she went through during her time with him. Ayala described him as manipulative, extremely abusive and controlling. In her deposition she outlines downright torturous occurrences with Onfroy that often left her visibly injured and emotionally scarred. This abuse varied from verbal venom to physical terror, i.e a reported ordeal where Onfroy inserted foreign objects into Ayala’s vagina. All together X was extremely violent, extremely charismatic and extremely complicated.

 

As I review the public information on the life he led I find myself disgusted and dismayed wondering how someone validates this; how this young man validated his actions to himself. I came to the realization that you can not validate any other this, and if even a minority of these accounts hold truth X had a lot to answer for. However you can place things in context X was a young man, even in his death he was still growing, understanding the gravity of his actions.  I do not say this as an excuse but I frame it through my own experiences ( I have never abused anyone), because I have been problematic I have hurt people. I then examine accounts of Onfroy’s childhood, he was abused and neglected. Ayala too came from a broken place, almost as if the two some ill fated toxic match.

 

Today the conversation is how can we sympathize for a man who caused people so much pain. Often the question is what about women? Specifically women of color who face abuse and frankly death from their partners at disportionate rates. The answer to that question is THEY MATTER, they deserve to be heard, we need to have this conversation, but what we are doing right now is not conducive to any social progress. What we are doing is spitting acid and being insensitive then labeling it social discourse. I think it is easy to label this young man as a monster and maybe he was one, but the “no angel” narrative is eerily similar to the justifications used by racists as black people are slain at the hands American police forces.

 

I think his ex girlfriend Geneva Ayala frames it best for us:

“it’s disgusting that people are speaking for me.

“i don’t care if no one cared about me however many months ago, i didn’t lose my life. he did.

“it’s permanent. i’m still here. like how do you think that makes me feel?

“everyone expecting me to be relieved or happy?! No, i’m broken”.

     Broken, and it seems that is where we stand right now, broken by this current era, angry, triggered and defensive. In that tonic of toxicity basic tenets of human compassion are lost and our worst tendencies are magnified. If we truly want to heal and move forward we have to push back firmly and fight for some semblance of civility or we run the risk of becoming that in which we claim to hate.

Nathan Dillard