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On Chris Brown and Rihanna

February 20th, 2009

ABC News

Black Community Bitter About Chris Brown. I concur three quarters of the way down.  

By LUCHINA FISHER

Monique Wright-Williams had always forbidden her three girls from watching hip-hop music videos because of the way they portray women as "hoochies or sex objects," she said.

"I don't ever want them to think of themselves as a sex object," she told ABCNews.com.

The music of Chris Brown, though, was different. Marketed as more of a Jonas Brother than a Lil Wayne, Brown won the approval of both mother and daughters. Wright-Williams' oldest daughter, Solange, a 17-year-old college freshman, plastered her room with pictures of the 19-year-old R&B singer and affectionately referred to him as her "husband."

So when the Syracuse, N.Y., family learned that Brown had been arrested last week for allegedly beating his pop-star girlfriend Rihanna, the news came as a shock. "I'm obviously disappointed," Wright-Williams, a youth services agency director, said. "He was in a good position to serve so many young black children well. Whenever anybody who is in a good position to have a nice impact on my children, and children in general, tumbles and falls in such an important way, it's here we go again." Perhaps. The fall of a teen idol is familiar territory. But the swift and critical public response to Brown's arrest from the Williams family and other members of the black community has come as something of a surprise to some people.

Gayle King, editorial director at O, The Oprah Magazine, rejected Brown's recent apology in which he said in a statement that he was "sorry and saddened" and "seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones." "Right now, I can't think of anything that makes me support anything that Chris Brown is saying at this time," King told the entertainment news show "Extra" Sunday. "And my heart just aches for Rihanna."

Kanye West told Ryan Seacrest last week, "I was completely devastated by the concept of what I heard. ... I feel like that's my baby sis. I would do any and everything to help her in any situation." Rap mogul Jay-Z, who discovered and mentored Rihanna, reportedly "hit the roof" when he heard about the alleged fight, according to Us Weekly magazine. "Just imagine it being your sister or mom, and then think about how we should talk about that," Jay-Z said of 20-year-old Rihanna. "I just think we should all support her. She's going through a tough time. You have to realize she's a young girl, as well. She's very young."

And it's not just African-American celebrities who are outraged. Actress Rosanne Barr lashed out at Brown on her blog Monday.

"Chris Brown's lies and excuses make me want to beat the crap out of him," Barr wrote. "You dirty bastard. I hope you go to prison for 10 years."

Author Rebecca Walker, who writes a blog for TheRoot.com, believes the focus should be on domestic abuse.

"I am more disappointed by the response to the incident than the incident itself," she told ABCNews.com. "It should be used as an opportunity to discuss violence in general, and domestic violence in particular. It's a good place to begin a conversation about how love shouldn't hurt, and how victims of abuse themselves often become abusers if they don't get proper support.

"Ultimately, this issue transcends gender, race, class, etc.," she said. "This is about relationships and what healthy ones look like. It's about intimacy and how little we, as a culture, know about cultivating and maintaining it. It's about love, what it is, and what it isn't."

Rihanna's father, Ronald Fenty, told People magazine that he expects his daughter to address the issue. "At some point, she will speak out," he said. "I hope she will stand up for women all over the world." As for Brown's salvaging his once clean-cut image and role model status, Wright-Williams said, "I think he could still be a role model for 'I totally messed up and I will never be accused of this again.' Or he could be found guilty and be the model of what you don't want: You hit women, you get arrested and lose endorsements. "Thank God we're not hinging on Chris Brown for our one and only role model," she said. "We can easily turn to our new president."

Full story here

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