An Open Letter to Chris Brown and Rihanna

Please know that I recognize the
need for privacy during a time of tragedy and attempted healing. But
I ask that you consider how this might be a teaching moment that recognizes
the sacredness of women and girls’ lives. 

Like Rihanna, one out every three
American women has been beaten, sexually coerced or otherwise abused
in her lifetime. The lives of African American women are even more diminished
by violence. Intimate partner violence is the leading cause of death
for African-American women ages 15 to 45.  That means more African
American girls and women are dying because of violence than car accidents
or cancer. 

What is the value of a woman or
girl’s life? 

This is a moment when you can affirm
the value of women and girls’ lives. You can publicly criticize the
bloggers who were so quick to blog that "it is her fault,"
"she had it coming," "if women didn’t shake their asses
to misogynistic lyrics
." Make it clear that Rihanna was the
victim, and not the cause, of the violence done to her. Both of you
must state that when violence does happen against a women or girl, there
must be accountability, that we cannot continue the culture of impunity
when women and girls are hurt. Chris, you can demonstrate that accountability
through prison time and intensive counseling. 

Of course, I am sure that there
are many reasons why you might shun my request. Too often America has
played out its entrenched dynamics of sexual and physical violence against
women through the African-American experience. Before you, it was Kobe
Bryant, Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson. But you have a chance to expand
our public square discussions on violence to point out that violence
against women and girls cannot be circumscribed to the world of hip-hop
or urban communities or to the margins of Black or Brown communities. 

The narrative of physical and sexual
violence against women and girls cuts across the buffers of economic
or educational privilege, and breeches every divide of race, class and
ethnicity in America. It is a story whispered in the corners of mansions
in affluent neighborhoods, in the best private schools and universities,
behind the walls of women prisons and girl detention centers, and on
the street corners where girls are sexually exploited and trafficked.
You can speak to how violence against women and girls is part of the
American narrative–that the story of gendered violence done to women
and girls is a painfully American tale. 

Please do not choose silence instead.
Your voices in authentic denunciation of gendered violence matter at
this critical time. Rihanna, tell young girls who think that violence
is an inevitable part of any intimate relationship, that the occurrence
of violence in your relationship was harmful and will never be repeated
because violence against women and girls is never appropriate. Seek
counseling and healing, remember your sacredness, and publicly reach
out to other women and girls victimized by violence. Chris, join in
the movement to end the crushing levels of violence hurting so many
American women and girls–and do this not from place of professional
self-interest or PR strategy, but because you want to break the cycle
of violence that has played out in your own family. Ask other men to
join you. 

If you both do this, you will honor
those who have been hurt or cut down by violence (including yourselves),
and you will bring us closer to remaking a safer and more just nation
for women and girls. 

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  • invalid-0

    She may not be able to right now it takes a while to get your head and thoughts straight after this kind of violence. I too was physically abused by every boyfriend, and my husband. I knew it was wrong so I was able to dump the boyfriends quickly. My husband on the other hand had me fooled until it was too late. It was not the physical abuse that was so bad (I told him if he hit me one more time I was out of there) it was the verbal abuse that did the most damage. Words hurt badly especially when you are isolated and have no one to talk to.
    All I can say is get away fom him now. It is not your fault. He will NOT change until he WANTS to and then he will be a very different person. Hopefully better.
    Remember until you change inide and find out why you are attracted to these types of people the same thing will happen. Abused people are attracted to abused people. Be very careful.

  • aspen-baker

    I am so glad to finally see this issue being covered on this site.  I’ve been covering the story of Rhianna and Chris Brown on my blog as well..  You can read all my posts here:





  • invalid-0

    It really hurts when you see other people in the public arena minimize Chris Brown’s action. They say “Everyone makes mistakes”, or “I remember what it was like to be 19, everything was exaggerated.” I feel like that sends an even more toxic message than Rihanna and Chris are by their actions.

    I feel like this country wants to give the illusion that were so civilized and above violence against women. Then something like this happens and every sits on their hands, they make excuses, and jokes. It goes to show that Americans just don’t take things like this seriously.

  • invalid-0

    Get it straight people. Rhianna is no damn saint!…Chris rown Either!…But reality is they have money, they are famous, but they are still humans. You are telling me that in a every day life, this would’ve happened people wouldve been critizing The male only! Come one Give me a BReak!…She is a sneaky female, its to funny how he “beats” her for no reason!…Then it was because of a suppose unborn child. No one but them really knows why. I dont applaud the fact that he put his hands on her, and i never will. But i dont stop blaming her, because she was at fault to!…An then shes a victim for one day, because next day she was out and about partying. Grow the fuck up and smell the coffee WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD WHERE NO ONE IS PERFECT AND EVERY ONE IS AT FAULT!