Open Thread: Chris Brown, Rihanna, and Domestic Violence Part II

by Latoya Peterson

This morning, I was invited on The Takeaway to discuss Chris Brown. You can listen to the show here. Below is a quick summary:

Singer Chris Brown plead guilty yesterday to felony assault charges. Prosecutors say he badly beat his ex-girlfriend (pop star Rihanna Fenty) in February. Today on The Takeaway we are exploring the intersection between youth, abuse, race and culture with Elizabeth Mendez Berry, a freelance journalist who wrote an acclaimed article in Vibe magazine, Love Hurts, on partner abuse in the world of Hip-Hop. Also joining the conversation is Latoya Peterson, editor of the blog Racialicious.

Talking with Elizabeth about this in the studio and then later when we both were home made me realize I wanted to write a little more about this. It feels…unfinished almost, as if we never got around to the real discussion. Some half formed thoughts floating around my head:

* The desire for some blogs and many in the black community to immediately defend Chris Brown can be described as what? Racial solidarity? Internalized misogyny? A desire to be fair? Is there a way to be fair when one person is on the receiving end of the damage? Was the resolve around CB strengthened when he was universally damned by blogs like TMZ and Perez Hilton?

* I really want to talk about the “She’s Caribbean” thing more in depth. The stereotypes that surfaced, and how quickly they were embraced.

* Elizabeth mentioned something fascinating I hadn’t realized – Rihanna hasn’t done anything in this process. She was not the one who gave her name (that was leaked), she was not the one who leaked the photo, she did not place a restraining order, she did not press charges, and she had to be subpoenaed to appear. Does this change the perception around the situation?

*We were asked on the show if justice was served. I still don’t know how to answer that.

**Trigger Warning* The affidavit was also leaked, but it appears few bothered to read it, judging from the fact that many people Elizabeth spoke to still seem to think that Rihanna and Chris Brown were fighting each other, or that Rihanna hit him first. The affidavit explains all the strange markings.

*Oprah was brought up on the show and Elizabeth and I talked more about it afterward. We think Oprah is wrong for trying to push for an immediate realization/confession. It’s all a part of the cycle of fame – everyone wants the redemption story, everyone likes a winner. But Elizabeth thinks Rihanna has been bullied for a lot of this process, and I am inclined to agree.

Not sure what I will write yet. Readers, your thoughts?