The death of XXXTentacion did not have a mourning period. There was no moment to pause and reflect. No moment to think of the family and friends he left behind, the meaning he held beyond his celebrity and artistry. The death of XXXTentacion was a spectacle, a graphic instance of traumatic violence that is all too common among young people of color. Black bodies have long been a commodity, a marketing tool and a vessel for voyeurism and fantasy. This treatment endures beyond our own mortality, and here X’s body was made platform for debate, entertainment, and everything but the gravity it deserved.
This is separate from the person Jahseh Onfroy was. This is separate of the crimes he was accused of. This is separate from the music he made and the mark he left, the good and the awful. Beyond mine our any one else’s feelings for XXXTentacion, this death is a violent and cruel reminder that black bodies are most valuable post mortem.
XXXTentacion’s life came to an end in what is essentially a modern lynching. Gunned down and then plastered on the internet, recycled through blogs, thinkpieces, retweets and forever burned into the minds of consumers —an audience that largely reflects the people murdered and then displayed for viewing pleasure. Whether by government issued police bullets, nameless strays, or the boiling over of feuds, black death is a spectacle. Clickbait.
I do not feel sympathy for XXXTentacion. I am deeply saddened that his life ended at twenty years old, the same age I am today. I am deeply saddened that justice, however loose of a term that can be, could not be carried out for his alleged crimes. I am deeply saddened that his victim(s) will not know true resolution. But I am sickened that this death echoes that of people I knew, friends of friends, relatives, and countless innocent lives. The trauma of this violence, this omnipresent mortality in black life is crushing, and it has always been ratings gold. Is entertainment built on the desensitization of black death? The world is surely built on the breaking of black backs, so I wouldn’t be surprised.
The world lost a young life. That man hurt people. Tragedies do not cure tragedies.