August 31, 2016


Janelle Monáe's Cousin Natasha Hays, A Mother of Three, Shot and Killed

C Flanigan/Getty Images
C Flanigan/Getty Images

More viciously awful news: Natasha Hays, a 38-year-old first cousin to Janelle Monáe, was shot and killed in their native Kansas City, Kan. The retirement home caregiver was a mother to three children, ages 14, 16 and 18, who were at home when the fatal shots were fired into Hays' bedroom around 3:45 a.m. on Tuesday.

The local Fox affiliate reports:

"Family members tell FOX 4 they believe they know who fired shots into the woman's bedroom and say a few days ago, she said she felt threatened by this person. Family also told FOX 4 someone shot this same woman in the head a few years ago on Christmas Eve. She survived, but charges were never filed."

Marco McElwee, husband to one of Hays' cousins, told the Kansas City Star, “She spent the majority of her time helping somebody else, and she ended up in a helpless situation. The community lost a good citizen, a good person.”

KSHB reports that Hays is the 25th homicide victim in Kansas City this year, and that police are investigating.

Monáe has long been a proponent of #sayhername and #sayhisname, insisting that we emphasize the humanity of victims of violence and hate, too often reduced to faceless statistics and headlines. In August 2015, the Electric Lady singer-songwriter released a protest song with her Wondaland Arts Society called "Hell You Talmbout," listing victims of police violence and hate crimes, all-too familiar names like Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gay, Sandra Bland and Eric Garner.

T-Pain also lost a family member to a terrible act of violence on Tuesday: Javona Glover, his 23-year-old niece, was stabbed to death at a Tallahassee, Fla., Walgreens.