Chris Brown And The Politics Of Memory
Last week, we here on the Black Youth Project blog celebrated the life and legacy of musical genius and pioneer, Michael Joseph Jackson. Even when the public questioned his sexuality, sanity, and Blackness they never questioned his talent. A pet monkey, child abuse allegations, and an indescribable skin disorder didn’t stop the “Billie Jeans“ and “Dirty Dianas“ from chasing this “Bad” entertainer. Whether he was “Black or White” he was always a “Thriller”. The soft-spoken Jackson was vociferous any time he touched the stage and screamed his poignant messages of healing and self-reflection. Last Sunday at the BET Awards Chris Brown gave an “Off The Wall” tribute to the gloved one. As I watched Brown emulate Jackson’s dance moves to a tee I sat in awe. Brown, who usually puts on a good show, really outdid himself in this one. But did Brown moon walk, sing, and cry his way back into our good graces? Being the cynic that I am, I am inclined to agree with Summer and say that the tears were a little contrived. Although many “teeny boppers” were still unwaveringly loyal to the “Run It” man he has still had an uphill PR battle over the past year.
What ever the case may be, Chris Breezy did his thing. Even my cynicism can’t knock that. However, what bothered me the most about the performance wasn’t even the performance itself, but rather the reactions to it. Chris Brown and Trey Songz’ mother set the internet on fire. Everybody on Twitter, Facebook, and in the blogosphere had something to say. No really they did. On Sunday night Trey Songz mother was the number #1 trending topic on Google. Almost all of the Twitter trending topics that night had something to do with Brown too. I saw comments that ranged from “are you guys buying that cris brown breaking down at the bet awards crap?” to “was Chris Brown Redeemed At The BET Awards?” When did crying atone for domestic abuse? I don’t believe in harping on things in the past, but I was upset by the direction of the conversations online. I understand that Brown gave a heartfelt performance, but does that vindicate him? Even CNN ran a story entitled is “America ready to Forgive Chris Brown?” As a Christian I am fully aware that only “he who without sin cast the first stone”, so I’m definitely not here to judge. But why does dancing and singing well make someone cool again? If O.J. Simpson was still in the N.F.L. during the murder trial and rushed for 2,000 yards the next year would we forgive him? If you want to forgive Chris Brown, forgive him because you believe he deserves a second chance, not because he can moonwalk and grab his crotch just like M.J.
Allowing a performance by a person who plead guilty to assault last year to determine whether you forgive him or not trivializes domestic abuse. Between 600,000 and 6 million women are victims of domestic abuse each year. This continues to be a problem in our community that is swept under the rug. Should you allow a man to beat you if he sings and dances for you afterwards to make it better? Don’t get me wrong, I believe we all fall short, yet I think the public should reassess why they are forgiving Chris Brown. If you believe that he has paid his debt then that is fine. However, if you think that because he can “Run It” real well we should forget what happened you should just “Beat It”.