Six Years Later, I’m Still Talking About Chris Brown

There are some things that don’t need to be explained. Like why Disney World is the greatest place on earth or how food definitely tastes better than “skinny feels” or how snow days are good for the soul. These things speak for themselves, and we all know they’re true (especially the Disney one, am I right?), but some things in life do need an explanation after all.

My love for rap music is one of these things.

I know that, to some, it might come as a surprise. I drive a Prius. I wear khakis as part of my “going out” ensemble. I have no tolerance for sexism. Despite all of this, though, it’s undeniable: I love rap and hip hop and a good beat and music that swears at least 26 times per song. I can’t help myself.

Naturally, I found myself driving along with “Only” by Nicki Minaj playing the other day (because it is a TRUE jam). I listened to Nicki start the song off and then rapped Drake’s entire verse, thinking about how so many girls (and guys for that matter) are obsessed with him. Then it was Chris Brown’s turn as he came in, singing the chorus flawlessly like he does on so many songs these days. I stopped singing along as I realized that I’m actually still not over the whole Chris-Brown-beat-up-Rihanna-and-essentially-got-away-with-it thing. Not one bit.

To be honest, I often think about Chris Brown and how I hate how talented he is because you can’t help but like his music. I also think about how I can’t help but hate him for what he did to Rihanna, and not because I’m a big Rihanna fan but because she is a woman, a human, who should have never been attacked by him (or anyone, for that matter), her then-boyfriend.

At the time, he was condemned, but nothing major. It seemed like his career bounced back almost instantly with no repercussions. Now, six years later, he is on the radio at least 200 times a day. I can think of four to five songs off the top of my head that he is featured in right now, one of them being “Only.” I drove around, mindlessly bopping along to Lil Wayne’s verse and wondered why? Why do we as fans support someone that is an abuser? And more importantly, why does Drake or Lil Wayne or Nicki?

It’s true: Chris Brown was arrested for what he did to Rihanna on that horrible night in 2009. It’s true that he came from a home where his mother was a victim of domestic abuse herself and it’s true that these things can be “complicated.” But what’s also true is that we need to take a stand. We need to make sure our friends, our sisters, brothers, and future daughters and sons know that violence–against women or men–is never ok.

Maybe boycotting Chris Brown sounds dramatic, but as consumers, we have power. More than we know. And those artists who are worshipped daily? (I’m talking to you, Drake, Nicki, and Lil Wayne.) Their words have power, too. If Drake came out publicly stating that he wouldn’t collaborate with Chris Brown because he won’t stand for domestic violence in any way, don’t you think people would listen?

In truth, I guess my greatest issue isn’t with Chris Brown, but with what his success stands for: acceptance of violence as “no big deal,” turning a blind eye to a real and pervasive problem for the sake of good entertainment. The longer we allow domestic violence–that is violence against either sex–to be swept under the rug, the longer we will live in a society where domestic violence is allowed to exist.

Isn’t it about time we all work to make it unacceptable once and for all? Something as simple as turning off your radio or not spending $1.29 on iTunes might have a bigger impact than you think. On Sunday, the Grammy’s took a stand against domestic violence with speeches by President Obama, domestic violence survivor and writer Brooke Axtell, and a performance by Katy Perry. And even though I wish the Grammys would take a bigger stand and stop nominating Chris Brown entirely, it’s about damn time that mainstream America confronted the issue head on. To quote Axtell’s speech from Sunday:

Authentic love does not devalue another human being.
Authentic love does not silence shame and abuse.


Talk to your friends. To your cousin and your classmate, your colleague. Ask them to take a stand with you. Ask them to choose love and peace over anger and a raised hand.


If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, click here or call 1-800-799-7233.

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