XXXTentacion shouldn’t be idolized posthumously

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“Boys will be boys,” they say as the kindergarten girl comes crying to the teacher about the boy in her class pulling her hair. We just don’t expect it to escalate into aggravated battery on a pregnant woman.

In case you missed it, rapper XXXTentacion was recently involved in a fatal altercation involving gun violence in Florida.  The rapper’s death sparked many debates online about the various issues involved in the rapper’s life and death, including his outspoken approach to depression, the impact of his music and, most notably, his criminal convictions.

The balance between XXXTentacion as an artist and a human are complicated and still widely debated despite the weeks that have passed since the news of his death broke.

Fans staunchly defend the artist and the feelings his music brought them.

The general public, however, calls for him to be remembered for his crimes.

See, in a #MeToo era, we can’t just ignore the convictions of what he did to his fans, strangers, his pregnant girlfriend and a gay man in jail.

I’ll leave these for you to find for yourself, as the details are gruesome and unnecessary for this argument.

Whether you’re in the camp that can separate the art from the artist or not, what really bothers me about this particular debate is the discussion of the rapper’s age to excuse his actions.

He was only 20 when he died, so the fans are using this as an excuse for his behaviour.

After all, he was still young and learning.

He was just figuring out his life, we can’t blame him for his violent outbursts with the upbringing he had.

I can’t help thinking of his pregnant girlfriend who refused to testify against him in court.

She was young and figuring out her life and she’ll have to deal with the consequences of his actions for the rest of her life.

But boys will be boys.

A common example being thrown around online is to say that Malcolm X was also problematic in his youth.

If XXXTentacion had just been given some time to grow up, maybe he would have been remembered in the same way as a civil rights hero, challenging the status quo and bringing the movement to new heights.

Can we not acknowledge that what people did in their past does not get erased when they grow up? We don’t get a “get out of jail free card” for the things we do right now.

No matter if you grow up to be a pimp or the president, you’re still the same person who is reading these words today.

We can all be critical enough to separate the good from the bad in everyone’s lives, including XXXTentacion and Malcolm X.

Good people can have bad actions, but they still must be held accountable for those actions.

Those of us in university know that well — we’re all here, I hope, for a chance at a better future.

Our grades, how we get involved and the connections we make will carry through in one way or another for the rest of our lives.

It includes the actions you take when you smash your roommate’s chairs in anger.

That also includes the actions you take when there is a drunk girl passed out on the couch at a party. It includes texting and driving and the consequences that come with that.

It includes aggravated battery on a pregnant woman. It includes hitting strangers in clubs. It includes hate rhetoric.

As the old adage goes, boys will be boys, but boys will also be held accountable for their actions.

It’s tragic that XXXTentacion did not get more opportunity in his life to show the good in his soul, but the bad he left must also not be forgotten.

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