I have to be honest: When the news went viral that Chris Brown had beaten up his then-girlfriend Rihanna, I had no idea who either of them was. Not being a fan of their genre of music, I actually had to look up their discography. Over the coming months and years, as Brown went to trial and then completed his probation, I learned a lot more about him and the acceptance of gender-based violence in our society.
It all began when in various comment sections throughout the blogosphere, Brown’s violence was defended repeatedly because Rihanna had the audacity to look through his cell phone calls. Rihanna was beaten, bitten, and blooded by this man. The photos which were leaked to the public are absolutely horrific. According to The Huffington Post, at the time Brown stated, “I’m going to beat the shit out of you when we get home” and “I’m really going to kill you.” To be clear, this is a crime Brown admitted committing and because of which, he is now a convicted felon.
Brown has publicly apologized for his violent crime; however, his actions don’t read like he is sorry for anything. He continues to be violent, as his rampage at the “Good Morning America” studios (after being asked about his crime) and his recent public brawl with Drake at a nightclub proves. There is also the little matter of the tweet after winning a Grammy: “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I Got A Grammy Now! That’s the ultimate F@ck Off!
These are not the actions, nor the language, of a man attempting to take responsibility for his behavior and make amends. These are the actions of a man who has been rewarded for his gender-based violence through awards, continued positive media attention, and, of course, record sales. Every single song or album purchased emboldens the idea that what he did is not a big deal. Is there anything a black man can do to black woman that we cannot find it in our hearts to forgive?
It does not help that celebrities are continually suggesting that Brown needs forgiveness. Queen Latifah stated the following in support of Brown, following the 10th Annual BET Awards:
“He is young guy, he made a big mistake, and he needs to bounce back from that. And he needs an opportunity for a second chance,” she says. “We can’t condemn that kid. He’s a kid and he needs to correct the mistake for the future, not live in the past.”
“He needs to be forgiven. Enough already. We can’t keep beating him up. She [Rihanna] is going to grow, he’s going to grow, and we have to allow them both to do that.”
Last month, Brandy became yet another person to join the Brown forgiveness celebrity train when she stated:
“I just feel like everybody goes through things in their life, and it’s not my place or anybody’s place to judge. I just know that Chris is a fantastic artist and he’s always been supportive of me as an artist, and I just wanted to work with him because he’s great at what he does.”