I do not condone domestic violence, no matter who starts it.
I love and have had the privilege of working with Chris Brown.
I love and am a friend of Tina Davis, who manages Chris Brown.
I love Rihanna. My heart aches for what she must be feeling.
The incident is still under investigation, so only a few people really know what happened on Grammy night in Hancock Park. I am not addressing any rumors here; this is not a tabloid blog.
Okay. The trouble with celebrity is that we as consumers and end-users start to feel we own them because we buy what they sell. I’m hearing and reading all this chatter about how Chris Brown is done. So, it was all good as long as he was squeaky clean, right? We can claim him, but at day’s end, Chris is not ours to throw away.
This guy is 19, came up famous. His first real relationship is on display with another global superstar. How often do you think it is reinforced to him that he can do whatever he wants?
Let’s look at the modeling available to Chris from Black male entertainers: R. Kelly, who is widely believed to be a pedophile regardless of what the court says. Miles Davis, who abused Cicely Tyson mercilessly. Ike Turner, whose abusive record with Tina is legendary. Biggie, who had no problem takin’ it to Faith or Kim. Dr. Dre, who threw Dee Barnes down a flight of stairs over an interview.
Flex and Steph Lova settled out of court after he allegedly choked her. Need I go to the sports world? Allen Iverson allegedly tossing his naked wife from an apartment. I could go on. Are those infractions more tolerable because the perpetrators were ‘bad boys’? What about the impact on women who suffer anonymously?! Is it only worse because Rihanna is hot and famous?
The aforementioned men all went on to have continued success in their careers. Chris Brown can too–if the aftermath is handled correctly. Chris Brown’s future is up to God and Chris Brown. I don’t smell a ploy to shore up a hardcore image from Chris on this one; I honestly think he went too far too fast in that moment-and never saw the impact waiting for him at the corner of celebrity and controversy. Turning himself in was the smart thing to do.
We may feel shock and betrayal over this, but I would like to see some compassion exercised here. Chris may need counseling, support, guidance on how to handle his emotions and a safe space to look within for an understanding of what triggers him. This is serious work that we rarely see our men do publicly. Kevin Powell confessed his transgressions of abusing women and mismanaging anger openly and has recovered in a powerful way, helping his brethren in the process with books and workshops. In addition to working through the trauma of this event, Rihanna may need some help too, working on insecurities, recognizing when she may be caging her partner, and setting boundaries in her relationship. These are no guarantee against violence, but fundamental to preventing situations from escalating. It’s not like tutorials are being conducted for young famous people in love (or heavy like). We don’t know what we’re doing half the time either, we just have the luxury of anonymity to cloak us as we eff up. We each have much to learn from taking a hard look into our families of origin, our emotional issues, our barrier to authentic communication.
The camps for the couple aren’t talking because of the investigation. Which may explain why we have no apology from Brown to date. I applaud the alleged victim, Rihanna, for taking a stand and cooperating with the authorities. That act singlehandedly blows the lid off being silent when met with abuse for women of all ages. Even Chris Brown has consequences to face for his actions. The ripple effect remains to be seen, but damage control is most definitely in order. Dyana Williams, where you at?! As the media specialist who has masterminded preventive and post-disaster PR strategies for everyone from Lil Kim to Usher, I have to quote some of the wisdom she shared in Put Your Dreams First here: “you must be prepared in your personal and professional life to meet all the demands of being an artist.”
I admire how both have handled their entertainment business thus far, and wish them both the best as they handle their personal business during this difficult time.