What Does Clapping for Chris Brown Really Mean?

Years ago, my mentee at the time was in love with Chris Brown, in that innocent, poster in your locker type of way.
Publish date:
February 14, 2012
domestic violence, valentine's day, grammys, chris brown

This post is about Chris Brown, kind of. Let me preface this by saying that I am a full believer in forgiveness. One of the great things about this country is that we not only forgive celebrities for their indiscretions, but we also make great reality shows and headlines out of them. It’s a vicious cycle that often does more harm than good, but, at the end of the day, I think that learning from a mistake, no matter how horrific, and getting a second chance is what being human, imperfectly human, is all about. Despite all that, if I were to tell you that I’d ever support a Chris Brown album, I’d be lying and I don’t consider that a double standard. It’s just how I choose to exercise my solidarity with abused women. The singer can wear as many bowties as he wants on Larry King, twist and gyrate his hips to club beats, and even receive full penance from Rihanna -- but I just can’t move past what happened on Grammy night 2009 and support him as an artist. After his Grammy performance, Twitter was ablaze with young women of all ages and races, pledging their love for Brown. In fact, there was so much love, that even a good beating from the singer was welcomed.

Some reactions: “Chris Brown, please beat me,” and “Chris Brown could serenade me then punch me in the eye. I’m down for it.”

Before going off on a Twitter rant of my own, I dealt with my whirlwind of emotions, sat for awhile and thought: Who should I be upset with? The Grammys, for giving attention and an award to an artist that just three years before they banned for beating a woman’s face in? Or the sheer ignorance of the young girls with the raging hormones? Or a public school system that turns its face to the physical and sexual abuse among teens? Or parents who aren't equipping their children with the common sense to see that being abused is just not funny -- ever? Then I thought, Now that I am upset, what should I do?I don’t have any kids, but I do mentor young girls. Years ago, my mentee at the time was in love with Chris Brown, in that innocent, poster-in-your-locker type of way. When the Rihanna fiasco occurred, her allegiance to him was stronger than nuns to Jesus. We spent hours calmly, well sometimes calmly, hashing out our feelings about Brown’s actions. My only objective was to teach her that being beaten is never OK. She told me that Rihanna was probably crazy and deserved it. I asked her if Chris Brown was crazy for hitting her. She answered no, because love is emotional. What do you say to that?

Years later, I grimaced at the irony of seeing Brown accept an award in an arena where he was once shunned. The applause was deafening, and I wondered with each clap how many young girls who have been abused will remain silent as a result.

I didn’t write this to shun Chris Brown. What he has done is between him, his God and his conscience. I did write this, though, for that little girl who is mistaking abuse for an expression of love. It’s time we all speak up, speak out and talk, a lot. Go to schools, talk to your daughters and nieces, join mentor programs, call a cousin in high school whose Facebook statuses alarm you. Say something. Clearly our girls need us.