Chris Brown

Why are we still talking about Chris Brown?

A more discerning adult can look at this twitterclusterfuckerfuffle to see that a) Jenny Johnson, a comedian I never heard of, baited Chris Brown and b) dull witted and unremorseful Chris Brown fired back in a language he’s most comfortable with: misogyny. And yes, this all stopped being news because many of us have already called him on his deep misogyny, his violent assault of Rihanna in 2009, his caustic unapologetic behavior since the offense. And yes, he deleted his twitter page (10 second dance party for that). Yet a chorus of furies emblazoned with the hashtag teambreezy surface at his defense. And yes, this current backlash against Chris Brown has some racial under and overtones because his vitriol was directed towards a white woman. And yes, Rihanna still fux with him.  And yes, we’re still talking about it because I’m never going to forget the photo of her beaten in face. And yes, we all should never, ever forget that. Never.


It takes a particular grade of self hate and narcissistic flaunting to tattoo the face of a beaten woman on the side of your neck. It’s a volatile mix, embracing, if you will, the albatross of monster and abuser pridefully. You are so unrepentant, so fuck everybody. That’s so fucking future, isn’t it?

Roxane Gay echoes my sentiments:

Yes, some of the backlash against Chris Brown is motivated by racism. Demonize the “angry” black man. Crucify him! Never let him forget his trespasses! Attacks against Brown grounded in racism are wrong but Chris Brown is still an unrepentant, abusive asshole. In fact, he revels in his assholery. He celebrates it.

You can’t keep trotting out Sean Penn, Roman Polanski, et al because our cultural memory is short. If social networking were around when Sean Penn abused Madonna in 1987 or when Polanski raped a minor in 1977, the backlash would have been similar. Those examples will not work unless we’re discussing Chris Brown with the same fervor in 2042. Also, we’re still conjuring their names. Polanski still can’t return to the United States and he’s still a rapist pig. Sean Penn has always been an asshole who puts his hands on women. Charlie Sheen is irredeemable. I hold these men and all their cronies in the exact same regard as Chris Brown. We haven’t forgotten these misdeeds as much as people assume.

With Chris Brown, people are focusing on what’s right in front of them, all the damn time.

Chris Brown continues to face backlash because he continues to remind us that he is an asshole. He continues to get in trouble. He continues to display violent behavior. All that is his right but he doesn’t get to do it with impunity.

As long as a segment of the population buys his records, as long as there is a community of enablers around him, Chris Brown can give nonefucks about what anyone of us thinks.


On a random September night this year, I learned the costs of intervening in a domestic violence dispute in my own neighborhood where an older man raised his hand to a frail asthmatic woman, and my friends jumped to her aid. And while two of my friends tried to make sure that the woman was okay, I turned to older man who cussed and carried on that he should take a walk. Then, he raised his hand to me and my friend jumped to my aid to stop him and the woman tells me to get control of my man because she was afraid my friend had hurt him. Of course we called the cops. Of course we waited for the cops, watched the warring couple from a safe distance, to let him know that we see him.

She went home with him anyway. The cops knew that she would before they even took our statements. We still don’t know what had become of the woman. But if you see something, you should say something. Right?

We know a thing or a two about abusers. We know that likelihood of their pain stemmed from an earlier trauma. Abuse repeats itself, and we know when it is left untreated, it passes down  generations. People can change. I believe that. But it isn’t  by a miraculous, divine intervention. It takes work and a supportive community for that individual so that they can heal. A community of people invested in that person’s well being. I don’t believe that Chris Brown has a community that is invested in him like that. I think the entertainment machine recognizes he’s a talentless hack who has a limited lifespan and can only hold our attention for so long before he disappears. The entertainment machine isn’t interested in saving someone’s soul. The fans…are? I don’t understand the rabid loyalty of his fans. The women that are so quick to forgive someone who has given them no reason to.

To the woman who say I don’t know what he said to her to provoke him and it’s none of my business: it became our business when he smashed her face and choked her out and left her on a public street. To the women (furies) who don’t understand why we won’t move on, I don’t know if we’ll ever reach you, if we’ll ever help you understand that if it does happen to you, what chorus of furies will come to your defense, when a man beats you to a pulp, chokes you and leaves you to die on the side of a busy street in LA? St. Louis? Chicago? Houston? What will you have me say to you then?

SYREETA MCFADDEN is a Brooklyn based writer, photographer and adjunct professor of English. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and Storyscape Journal. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station, and a co-curator of Poets in Unexpected Places. You can follow her on Twitter @reetamac.

Syreeta McFadden is a contributing opinion writer for The Guardian US and an editor of Union Station Magazine.

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