Humanity’s Hypocrisy: A Conversation About XXXTentacion

In June, twenty year-old rapper and songwriter XXXTentacion was tragically shot and killed near his hometown in Deerfield Beach, Florida, his death soliciting some very controversial reactions. Through his music, XXX brought attention to mental health issues, and his passing meant the loss of an inspiration for many people. Unfortunately, he was also involved in some cruel and violent crimes, and some believed his death served as fair punishment for his actions. In October, XXXTentacion was posthumously awarded Favorite Soul/R&B Album at the 46th Annual American Music Awards. This honor triggered past tensions regarding his legacy, and fans and critics argued over whether he is truly worthy of praise.

As an empathetic third party, I understand that both sides of this debate are so passionate because they feel provoked by deep pain, particularly those who have had personal experiences with physical abuse or mental health. With that being said, I believe there is a certain level of respect that all humans deserve once they’ve passed.

I can’t help but to feel that those who continue to tarnish his name and view him solely as a convict and immoral character have a somewhat false sense of true empathy. Many critics fail to see his role as a mental health advocate because humans are conditioned to feel unfavorably toward abusers. Abuse is more openly discussed, with graphic, obvious, and often relatable consequences. XXX was one of the first contemporary artists to be so vulnerable in his lyrics, and although mental health is not an excuse for poor behavior, his honesty and openness was honorable, and at least allows us to try to understand where his dark thoughts and actions were rooted. I believe it’s hypocritical for people to feel that they have “true morality” when they celebrate the death of a twenty year-old boy. When someone passes, especially when their death comes by such unfortunate circumstances, true morality and empathy means being able to separate a person’s decisions and simply show respect for their life.

I want to emphasize that I could never defend XXXTentacion’s actions, and I admit that he certainly was a troubled soul. Rather, I aim to defend his right to life as a human being, and discredit those that think highly of themselves for continuing to spread hate after his death. Both physical abuse and mental health are serious problems, and there is no way to argue which one is more wrong or more important. When celebrities make mistakes, society makes an example of them so we can learn from their misfortunes. But ultimately, no matter the person or circumstance, that line is crossed once the person has tragically passed.

I’ll leave you with a poem I wrote in response to XXX’s death that voices this opinion:

Humanity’s Hypocrisy

Lost in violence

He could’ve reacted with silence

But was brave enough to share inner riots

Only to be matched with hate and defiance

 

He was never dishonest

About the dark thoughts on his conscious

But in this world of false hope and promise

He was viewed first and foremost as a convict

 

Because those that preached humanity

Were the same ones that judged insanity

And wished for his subterranity

Then swore it was an act of piety

 

His wrongs I can’t deny

But no human deserves to die

And false righteousness is the easiest side

Justice and true empathy in disguise

- Sonja Niederhofer