On Sunday, I wasn’t watching the BET Music Awards, so I didn’t catch Chris Brown breaking down into real or fake tears. I didn’t even know the awards were on because I don’t have cable and I can’t get regular local TV stations either.
Sometimes I do watch some of my favorite programs on the computer, the day after they air. I do admit that I am an addict for The Young and the Restless. I like to see all those folks who can’t keep a marriage going for two full calendar years; it makes me feel better about my own single status.
But even when I had cable, I had stopped watching BET a long time ago. Some of the videos were just short of porn. Hey, a little porn is fine every now and then (if you’re grown), but I like to be intentional in my naughtiness, not caught unawares at 2:45 in the afternoon.
Plus, the BET awards show is a Tacky Negro Spectacle every year. Remember last year, when Lil Wayne and Drake sang “I Wish I Could [insert expletive verb] Every Girl In The World” and they had all these little underage girl-children on stage with them, including Lil Wayne’s daughter?
That’s just wrong. And very, very strange.
I’m all for pushing the artistic envelope and I’m all for telling difficult truths about our community. However, how much you want to “get down” all the time, how much weed you smoke, how much liquor you drink, and how many women you have, who by the way you don’t consider “women” but rather “[insert expletive misogynist plural noun]”—well, those aren’t difficult truths. Those are jenky, tacky, Negro Abominations.
So as far as I’m concerned, BET should be called ETRT: Embarrassing The Race Television.
But on Monday, when I read the news that Chris Brown had started crying while trying to sing Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” I just got furious. Matter of fact, I’ve been so furious that I haven’t been able to write anything about it until now, what with all these Black folks—and Black women, in particular—defending that abusive boy, saying “he’s suffered enough and give him a chance.” That he’d “learned his lesson” and his life “shouldn’t be over just because of a mistake.”
Sometimes, some of my people make me want to weep, when I consider their lack of moral clarity and their racial double standards.
Or, make me want to, like, vomit.
I wonder if that had been a WHITE boy who had beat Rhianna so badly that her mouth filled up with blood and she nearly passed out, would so many Black folks be giving that WHITE boy so many chances. Would we be saying—as one woman said on Facebook about Chris Brown—that that WHITE boy was a “poor thing”?
I’m all for second chances, but only after someone has paid the debt. I’ve said this before. And what debt has Chris Brown paid? Public humiliation? I got that in grade, junior high, and high school. Big fat whoa.
Community Service? I did that, too—along with my parents—in grade school, and on my own in graduate school. Community service should not be a punishment but a joy to participate in.
Chris Brown brutally assaulted someone. That is a crime. It is not a mistake. Forgetting to put on deodorant in the morning and not realizing it until you are at work and starting to get funky—that’s a mistake.
Chris Brown intentionally beat Rihanna brutally, and then denied accountability until he was facing jail. Which, by the way, he should have gone to. Because if Chris Brown had beat a stranger down like that instead of someone he was having sex with on a regular basis, he would have gone to jail.
But because he was having sex with Rihanna, a young Black woman, and she couldn’t keep her mouth shut while they were arguing—the cardinal sin for any Black woman, don’t you know—he got a slap on the wrist. He did not get punched repeatedly in his face until his mouth filled up with blood, by the way.
He also received a featured place at the African American Break Fool Awards, because, once again, this Black community has thrown yet another Black woman under the bus, so we can save a Black man.
Further, we have shown that it is not possible to love Chris Brown and love Rihanna at the same time. Only Chris gets the love. And if we love Chris Brown, what we must do is love him with no conditions and total acceptance of his brutal behavior, as we have loved other Black men in the same way.
Here we have Chris Brown, a cute, cheeky Black man-in-the-making. Someone who, unless he goes into some intensive psychological therapy and starts to change who he hangs around and what kind of music he sings, will be beating down another young lady.
And before you start howling in protest, let me remind you that I am a trained battered woman’s counselor–that was part of my community service– and so I know that the recidivism rate for batterers is eighty percent.
What is recidivism, you ask? Well, “recidivist” is the man who says he will never beat a woman again but who goes on to beat a woman again and again and again. Many recidivists end up killing women. And some of them are super-cute, too.
So, if the recidivism rate is eighty percent, that means, eight out of every ten men who say they won’t beat ever again, really will.
And why shouldn’t they do it again? It’s not like we have any sort of change in the scripts we give our young men—particularly in the Black community.
We still think that a brother can be hard, hang out with other hard young men, sing hard or morally bankrupt music—if he happens to be a singer—and never be held accountable for his actions. Yet somehow, we are convinced that our prayers that he be a better person will transform him.
It’s like when I was in high school and my mother suspected I might start messing around. I didn’t have a boyfriend, but she was just making sure. She pulled me aside one day.
“Honorée,” she said. “I’m through with raising children. Do you understand what I’m talking about? Do not come up in here pregnant.”
“Mama, I’m not even doing anything,” I said. I wondered if she could read my mind, though, because I was hoping to be doing something real soon, if I could just find somebody to do that something with.
“Well, when you think you might be doing something”—I tell you, my mother was a mind reader—“you let me know so we can make some plans for precautions. Because remember, prayer is not an effective form of birth control.”
Mama knew that we Black folks place a lot of silly worth in prayer alone, without any actual work to back it up, but she also knew that the Good Book tells us that “faith without works is dead.”
I have been trying to put my anger toward Chris Brown aside because he’s still essentially a child, after all, but I’m waiting to see what his works are. In the meantime, I’m still mad. I admit it. And it’s going to take a long time for me to trust that he won’t do something abusive and brutal again, because I’ve seen women put their trust in men’s words (and not works) and seen those women end up dead.
And I wish the majority of the Black community would wait and see with Chris Brown, too, instead of congratulating him for his tears. Crying is not work. It is an automatic function of the tear ducts, ok?
As y’all know, I was podcasting on Sunday evening to celebrate Lucille Clifton’s birthday while the BET awards were on. I’ve talked about it too much this week, maybe. But I think that podcast is still with me because it was just a glorious artistic as well as spiritual moment that I shared with those women.
When I conduct a podcast, I never expect anyone to be listening, so I don’t get annoyed when I check the stats and see only a few—or even only one or two—people tuned in.
However, when I found out that a bunch of people—Black writers, to be exact—were looking at the BET awards instead of listening to me and several fabulous Black women talk about Lucille Clifton, I was just completely flabbergasted.
Look, I know my little podcast ain’t no national thing. And I know I will never be Michelle Norris on NPR.
But when I think about what Miss Lucille stood for—morally, artistically, and spiritually—it makes me sad that Black folks always say they want a better model to follow, they want change in this community, but they never put their money, time, or prayer where they should be.
Instead, Black folks are watching the BET awards. They’re complaining, sucking their teeth, and shaking their heads. Still, they’re watching.