This morning, 12,000 fans, some of whom had camped out since Wednesday, showed up to watch Chris Brown perform tracks from his latest album F.A.M.E. (Fans Are My Everything) on The Today Show’s Summer Concert Series. The multi-racial crowd was filled with young women in their late teens and early twenties, but by far, from a cursory look at my television screen, most of the screaming cohort appeared to be young women of color.
Yes, this is troubling. And yes, I know it troubles many of you that we continue to talk about C. Breezy over here at the CFC. Let me go ahead and catalogue the objections/reactions that many of y’all might be having so we’ll know for the record that you aren’t saying anything we haven’t heard.
- Let the man live! The past is the past. He deserves to have his career back.
- We don’t know what happened in that car. Rihanna’s a terrible human being and it’s time for a Breezy comeback.
- He was wrong. He admitted it. Why are you feminists still talking about it?
Answer: We feminists are still talking about it because a nearly record-breaking 12,000 young people showed up today at his concert. In doing so, they signaled their clear support for #TeamBreezy. But the question I’m asking is not about whether Chris should be forgiven, whether he should continue to have a career, whether he should be allowed to move on. The answer to all those questions– for me anyway– is “yes.” I don’t think a person’s entire future should be determined by the terrible choices they made in late adolescence.
What I worry about is whether Chris has done the work (seen the therapists, grappled with his own hurt and anger about his past as a childhood survivor of domestic violence) to make sure that he doesn’t end up in the same situation again. My feminism permits me to care (in many ways demands that I care) about the emotional lives of men, particularly young Black men.
#FAME –Feminists Aren’t Men’s Enemies
But what I worry about even more are the young women who have such mediocre standards that they don’t think these questions should even be asked; many young Black women whom I’ve encountered become angry and visibly irritated when we question Chris Brown in any form. You can see the words “hater” flashing brightly in their eyes.
#FAME–Faulty Actions Mandate Explanation
Brown’s young female fan base clearly deserve more. At base level, they should learn the political and social value of their allegiances.
For when offered uncritically,
#FAME—Fervent Allegiances Mask Errors.
What then should we make of this fervent allegiance to Chris Brown?
First, we have to acknowledge our own shortsighted allegiances. We are the R.Kelly generation. We are the Dr. Dre generation. Neither of those brothers lost their career or their female fan base for sleeping with fourteen year old girls or beating up female veejays that chose to disagree with them.
Why does talent continue to excuse bad behavior? That’s one question to be asked.
But there is another question as well: Why is it so hard to believe nice guys can do bad things?
I’ve had more conversations than I can count with homegirls about dudes who were treating them like crap but being nice while doing it. By being nice, they meant dude didn’t call them names, or curse at them, or hit them. Um, #respectisjustaminimum. But he might routinely stand them up, ignore them, cheat, or be generally selfish. But as long as dude spoke to them in a calm manner, was nice to his mama, and occasionally treated them well, his fucked up actions were viewed as the anomaly.
I think there is an element of this at play with Breezy. To roundly condemn his actions is seen as being judgmental. And Black communities love the #onlyGodcanjudgeme meme, however short-sighted, it might be, particularly when it is often deployed to keep us from holding one another accountable.
Beyond the emotional shit we have with us about not throwing people away and not being unduly judgmental, we have political issues about not throwing Black men away. Particularly Black men who seem nice, personable, and respectful. In a society hellbent on classifying on all young Black men as disrespectful, violent, criminals, Black women consider it an act of political solidarity not to join the chorus of male bashers, even when we have to turn a blind eye to clearly problematic behavior.
So when we challenge Chris not to return to business as usual or suggest that he use his F.A.M.E. as a platform to raise the consciousness of his dedicated fans (since they are his everything,) we sound like heartless haters.
But how awesome would it be if Breezy used his failures as a stepping stone to consciousness and accountability?
#FAME—Failure Activated My Education
I think that that’s all any of us are asking.
And as feminists, we are desperately in trouble if we can’t figure out how to translate these messages into ways that resonate for young Black women. We need feminism, and we need it right now!
#FAME—Feminism Acknowledges My Experience
Our CRUNK brand of feminism rejects the notion that Black girls lives don’t matter.
Our feminism sees a wake-up call when 12,000 women and girls show up to support a mega-talented but troubled young man, who clearly needs to work through his issues.
#FAME—Freedom Animates My Existence
Our feminism reaffirms that another world is possible—one in which love is not operationalized and expressed through violence; in which accountability is the order of the day; in which the pursuit of pleasure does not force us to sell our souls.
For these and other reasons…
#FAME—Feminists Are My Everything