J. Cole Clearly Didn’t Read the Room With Black Women

The song he released doesn’t demonstrate the support we so need right now

Morgan Jerkins
ZORA

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A photo of J. Cole performing on stage.
Rapper J. Cole performs during halftime of the 68th NBA All-Star Game on February 17, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images

Recently, a 19-year-old woman with twists around her head and a sweaty face spoke into a microphone during a Black Lives Matter protest in Tallahassee said, “I’m gonna die by my f — — — skin” as a way to exude pride in her Blackness in spite of how much she’s been profiled. In spite of the rounds of applause, she continues to speak about the White Tallahasseeans who target Black locals, including her brother, who was “run over.” Her name was Oluwatoyin Salau.

An activist, Salau tweeted just several days prior to this moment about a sexual assault before she had gone missing. This past Monday, her body was found on a road and the suspect now in custody is a Black man. Her untimely murder sent shockwaves throughout the internet. Salau was a dark-skinned Black woman who was also home insecure. She deserved more. But before we had enough time to grieve, there were other dark-skinned Black women who may not have died but suffered a social kind of death in that their humiliation became fodder on social media.

In Washington, D.C., a Black woman was tossed into a dumpster and cried amid the filth while a group of Black men laughed and recorded on their phones. In Harlem, where I live…

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Morgan Jerkins
ZORA
Writer for

Morgan Jerkins is the Senior Editor at ZORA and a New York Times bestselling author. Her debut novel, “Caul Baby,” will be published by Harper in April 2021.