Early last week, news broke out of the shooting death of Jahseh Onfroy, professionally known as XXXTentacion. He was recently murdered outside of a motorsports dealership in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Outpours of condolences were sent from across social media platforms. To someone who was not familiar with him, they would just think of this as a tragic and senseless crime. Those who knew him are divided on whether or not they should send their sympathy.
The 20-year old rapper had a past littered with allegations of abuse, assault and witness tampering. He was accused of abusing a pregnant woman. Geneva Ayala, his ex-girlfriend, made a video stating the abuse she suffered, stating that she endured five months of verbal and physical abuse. Ayala claimed that Onfroy would backhand her, threaten to sexually attack her and smashed her cell phone because she had complimented a male friend on his jewelry. Onfroy was awaiting trial for these allegations at the time of his death.
Another incident occurred when XXXTentacion was in jail. He was seen on video footage battering a gay man. Onfroy claims that the man was making sexual advances towards him. This allegation has not been proven. Furthermore, he did tell one of the guards that if he had a gay cellmate he would kill him if he were to do anything he disproved. Later, he went on to brag about the injuries he had caused this man. This type of behavior is disgusting. Attacking someone because of their sexual orientation represents the actions of a coward.
XXXTentacion was shot in what was supposed to be a robbery attempt. Yes, it is sad that this young man was killed. Even though I am appalled at the actions that have been pinned back to him, no one deserves to have their life taken from them, especially at such a young age. A mother lost her son that day. Not to mention, his expecting girlfriend will not have a father there to raise their baby.
In the eyes of The United States judicial system, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Technically speaking, he was never convicted of these crimes since he was awaiting trial when he was killed. It is now up to the judgment of his fans to decide whether he is innocent or guilty. Since everyone has a unique moral compass, there will be various opinions on the subject matter at hand. This causes fans of XXXTentacion to choose a side: should his life be celebrated?
Celebrities are just human beings. The only difference between them and the average person is that since they are in the public eye, they are often idolized. This brings up the idea of separating the artist from the art. For some, that is easy to do. Just focus on the content created by the artist ignore who they really are as a person. There is no way I could do that. If I am a fan of an artist, I like their content and personality. There is no way I could listen to his music and have my mind block out the scandals surrounding him.
I say to forgive and not forget. Not everyone wants to forgive their attacker, which is completely understandable. For some, doing this is therapeutic. This action is allowing the attacker to no longer linger in your mind. Not doing this will weigh down the burden even further. At the end of the day, his victims are still alive and making it through the assault that Onfroy inflicted on them.
His accusers will always remember him as the man who caused them a great deal of pain. Both fans and critics should not forget that either. His track record of violence will be a part of his memory. At the end of his life, he seemed to have been working to turn his life around. We should acknowledge the effort he made to be a better man while remembering his entire life – both the good and the bad.