They seemed like the perfect couple. Teen heartthrob Chris Brown and his stunning girlfriend, hit maker Rihanna. Perhaps that was the first sign that something was not quite right. The joining of these two attractive entertainers was tailor made for magazine covers and television celebrity watching, but was apparently a train wreck waiting to happen. News of their pre-Grammy Awards fight and Brown’s alleged manhandling of his, as it turns out ex, once again turned our attention to the issue of domestic violence and its consequences.
First, it should be said that any relationship between two twenty year olds should come with a warning label. Carelessness and stupidity is often nothing more than a function of not knowing any better. The average young couple has enough difficulty keeping it together let alone two young celebrities whose every move is chronicled in the tabloids. Still, it is no excuse for the alleged abuse of Rihanna by Brown.
This is a serious matter because domestic violence is a silent killer in the Black community. We have picked up the newspaper too often to read the grim stories of women stalked by boyfriends and estranged husbands, and murdered in cold blood. Too often the warning signs are ignored by friends and family, and excused by women who are desperate for companionship. Too many times we have heard stories of women who suffered abuse only to let the abuser back in their lives, to be their executioner.
It would be unfair to cast judgment on Chris Brown because the specific circumstances of that evening are not fully known. We have only heard snippets, tidbits from news reports. It does seem that a serious altercation took place and Rihanna was injured. What we do know is that something serious enough took place for both young stars to cancel their attendance at the Grammy Awards. The facts will come out if the incident is addressed in the criminal justice system.
Already Brown has lost an endorsement deal and some radio stations are refusing to play his records. We won’t jump on that bandwagon and will reserve judgment until all of the facts become known. For some, the demonization of Brown is justice served. We don’t agree. A bigger issue here needs to be addressed. Until the matter of domestic violence in our community is addressed it will always be treated as an isolated incident. It is not. Brown’s world is one in which the objectification of women is commonplace; including the manner in which Rihanna has been packaged. The highly sexualized packaging of pop stars leaves little room for them to be seen as anything more than trinkets, to be used and abused in the fantasy realm of the fan or at the hands of their partner. It is nothing new, only more visible in today’s electronic era.
We would have thought that the story of rock songstress Tina Turner’s violent relationship with former husband Ike Turner had opened eyes to the scourge of domestic violence. Apparently not. It seems as though the physical abuse of women is still tolerated, and worse, justified by people who have never had to bury a loved one or see the pain in the eyes of children who witness a battered mother, or worse become victims too. Two young lives have now been altered, apparently because one person could not just walk away.
If Brown is indeed guilty of hurting Rihanna he may face serious legal consequences, including imprisonment. We hope that first, he and Rihanna receive real counseling, and that Brown comes to an understanding that his purported behavior is unacceptable. Given his tremendous artistic talent and enormous popularity, he could play a valuable role educating his peers on the issue of domestic violence. His career need not end over this incident. His life may have a greater purpose that will only be revealed by his current difficulties. We wish both young stars a better day.