I recently read some anti-Chris Brown playing the Grammy posts, most notably “I’m Not Okay With Chris Brown Performing at the Grammys and I’m Not Sure Why You Are” on Hello Giggles. I can’t say I disagree with anything stated in the article, because I really don’t. The article is mostly on-point. But my retort to this question is “Why Do We Care So Much About Chris Brown But None of the Other Domestic Violence Perpetrators in Hollywood?”
I’m not going to be presumptuous and assume that the author doesn’t care about those things, because I am certain she does, so the question really is aimed at white-bred feminism at large. Why does Chris Brown particularly offend us so much, and yet I have witnessed people laugh at and take someone like Charlie Sheen with a grain of salt? They’ll deride Chris Brown and yet use the word “Winning!”, the proud proclamation of an addict and misogynist who shows, in my opinion, way less mournfulness over his actions than Chris Brown (but I guess it’s difficult to measure less than zero).
Is it because the victim, Rihanna, is so high profile? Is it because we like her music so much, while Brooke Mueller mostly resembles what privilege looks like in our society? Is it his age? Or maybe the fact that Chris Brown is a man of color?
I am not running out and saying people who think Chris Brown shouldn’t be performing on the Grammys are racist. Not in the slightest. I do not want to be mistaken as apologizing for his behavior. But I think as a group we need to look at who we forgive using our consumer power and who we choose not to forgive. What both Chris Brown and Charlie Sheen did (oh and Christian Bale and Alec Baldwin and other people who have been connected to domestic violence have done) is not forgivable.
But the facts speak for themselves. Black men are criminalized without batting an eyelash in this country, while many of us question whether someone like Julian Assange is capable of rape because he is such a Valuable Person Who Contributed Valuable Things.
Truthfully, I do find it despicable that he is playing the Grammys, especially considering the connection the Grammys have to the altercation with Rihanna. I find it despicable that most of these men have careers in the public eye and are celebrated as people to look up to. Heros, even. I’m confused, though, about where our derision towards him is rooted from. I worry that sometimes a bit of it is a chunk of unchecked privilege and unaccounted for systemic racism that really criminalized Chris Brown even before he did this terrible, unforgivable thing.
I’m not leaving this post with a solution or even an answer to my own question. I’m just throwing this idea out there. With the way the criminalization of black men looks to me like a modern day version of slavery, as a white woman, I feel like I need to be more aware of where my feelings come from in situations like this. I don’t see that discussion happening in the blogosphere.
Editor’s note: Republished from Fat Social Worker, with permission.