I approach this situation with the utmost seriousness. All over the country, in every salon, in every workplace, in every news organization, the Chris Brown-Rihanna story has run the gamut of opinions. Many of them absurd, some thoughtful, a great amount misogynistic; but above all, only a few of them were brimming with proper perspective. The Los Angeles Times even ran a piece comparing Chris Brown to Bobby Brown (really?), as well as one on the surprising support that Brown has received from females.
Chris Brown released his first public statements about the “incident” yesterday:
“Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired. I am seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones and I am committed, with God’s help, to emerging a better person. Much of what has been speculated or reported on blogs and/or reported in the media is wrong. While I would like to be able to talk about this more, until the legal issues are resolved, this is all I can say except that I have not written any messages or made any posts to Facebook, on blogs or any place else. Those posts or writing under my name are frauds.”
For those who feel that there is no reason a man should beat a woman, they are right. (Self-defense is the only other justifiable excuse, but that’s the exception to the rule. It’s real hard to come across a situation in which a man can’t walk away. Yesterday, Kevin Powell wrote magnificently on hyper masculinity and the culture of abuse.) However, the other side is worth exploring too. Nobody ever talks about the provocation methods that “defenseless” woman use to prod violence. If you have a tiger as a pet and you poke him enough, then that tiger will snap because…. it’s a tiger. Is that the fault of the tiger or the poker?
But for now, all of that is irrelevant.
Let’s get this straight. This isn’t about making value judgments. This isn’t about Chris Brown being railroaded. This isn’t about him being justified in his actions. This isn’t even about Rihanna being made a martyr. This is about the level of heroism that we attach to the talented among us. In the last two weeks alone, allegations about Brown, Dwyane Wade, Roberto Alomar, and Michael Phelps have surfaced. Of course, the public expressed outrage and shock to these events, and two months from now, the public will give the same reaction to the newest set of events.
We have this penchant to correlate talent with morality, and it just doesn’t work that way.
Before last week, Chris Brown was a role model for many. Today, he is a model for violence-gone-wrong. Is that fair? Perhaps, but it is misguided. A hero shouldn’t be made according to one’s socioeconomic standing or talents. Heroes are the nameless among us who enable us to spread our wings. They are the people who seem to never get as much credit as they deserve in shaping us. Who listens to more rap, black people or white people? No surprise there….white people. But who does it seem to affect more in terms of educational apathy, homocides and parenthood? When white teenagers listen to Soulja Boy Tell Em or Jay-Z, they separate it (generally speaking) as purely entertainment and even fantasy. In the Black community, those two figures becomes a paragon of virtue and for some, even a hero. That’s a slanted picture.
Let Chris Brown and his family handle Chris Brown. Let Rihanna and her family handle Rihanna. As for us and our misguided priorities, let’s try not to act surprised when those in the elite have a moment in decadence. Chris Brown is a singer and entertainer. A budding singer and entertainer would do well to look at his talents as a blueprint. Anything else is merely superfluous.