R&B singer Brown, 20, assaulted his former girlfriend, pop artist Rihanna, 21, at a Grammy Awards pre-party on February 8.
He was convicted of felony assault in June and will be formally sentenced to 180 days of community service and five years of probation on August 5. He will also attend a two-week course on domestic violence.
People seem to be divided in their views about his actions. Some think we should let him serve his sentence, the standard for first-time offenders, in peace.
Others are outraged at the idea of letting him get out of jail time and pardoning him. US Newsweek reporter Raina Kelley debunked singer Kayne West’s suggestion that we should give Brown a break.
“People leave the oven on or fry turkeys in the garage and burn their house down. One may even accidentally step on the gas instead of the brake and run over the family cat,” she wrote in an online article. “Mistakes resulting in tragic consequences happen all the time. But one cannot mistakenly beat someone up. You do not accidentally give someone black eyes, a broken nose and a split lip.”
Brown apologized to fans for his “inexcusable” behavior in a two-minute video on YouTube he posted July 21.
Before Tuesday he had been silent about his brutality. Sorry if I can’t take your apology seriously when you wait five months to give it.
In addition, posting an online video isn’t enough; if that’s all he says about what he calls “the incident,” he deserves more than his sentence.
Speaking of which, why hasn’t Rihanna said anything about that regrettable night?
It’s just as much her opportunity as Brown’s to work against the issue. I’m not saying she has to, I would certainly understand her not wanting to relive that night, but by doing so she might cause some good.
By telling people what she’s gone through and how she has dealt with it, people will identify and respond. If she can inspire one person to leave an abusive relationship, that’s success.
Speaking out about this issue could also be an opportunity for Brown to be the role model he claims he wants to be. He could show fans and onlookers worldwide that domestic violence is indefensible.
Instead of enduring his sentence quietly, he can demonstrate how “truly sorry” he is by joining other celebrities like Harrison Ford, Michael Bolton and Kevin Bacon as a member of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or Martina McBride and Salma Hayek as part of the National Domestic Violence Hotline celebrity board.
Like Brown, singer Christina Aguilera experienced domestic violence as a child. She filmed a public service announcement advocating community action against domestic violence and showed it during one of her tours.
“I wish I had the chance to live those few moments again, but unfortunately I can’t,” Brown said in his YouTube apology.
You’re right, Brown, you can’t change history. There is no way for you to undo that night.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that 33 million or 15 percent of adults polled in a 2006 Harris Poll admitted that they were a victim of domestic violence, defined as “behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other” by domesticviolence.org.
Brown apologized to Rihanna and his fans. Now it’s time for him to apologize to millions of victims for perpetuating the violence. It’s time for him to speak out about domestic violence: what it is, how to prevent it and how to get help.
And he shouldn’t be alone in his endeavor.
After the assault, a photo popped up at TMZ.com depicting a battered and bruised Rihanna. The media and online community mobilized to cover the issue.
Recently retired National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy wrote online that the coverage was a prime opportunity to tackle the issue.
“Much coverage, unfortunately, has been from the celebrity scandal angle with precious little substance. It’s no wonder that so many women and men have engaged in an enormous amount of victim-blaming,” she said. “Outrageous comments about Rihanna, and what she must have done to ‘deserve’ a beating, are all over the Internet. As frustrating as these comments are, there is much to be learned from them.”
I believe the best thing we can all learn from Brown and Rihanna is to be aware of domestic violence, to understand that it is prevalent; not sweep it under the rug or shrug it off as another one of those things that only happens to other people. To reach out to and empower victims, to educate ourselves and direct our resources toward ending the violence can be our apology to victims, our way of saying that we’re sorry, we are listening and we do care.