I’m Not Okay with Chris Brown Performing at the Grammys and I’m Not Sure Why You Are Sasha Pasulka
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The Fall-out, and the Lack Thereof

In August 2009, Brown was sentenced to five years probation and 180 hours of community service after pleading guilty to felony assault.

In December 2009, he released his third studio album. It sold over 100,000 copies in its first week and debuted at #7 on the Billboard charts.

On June 8, 2010, Brown was forced to cancel his tour dates in the UK when the British Home Office refused to grant him a work visa on the grounds of “being guilty of a serious criminal offence”. Less than three weeks later, he performed ‘Man in the Mirror’ at the BET Awards’ tribute to Michael Jackson.

His fourth studio album, released in March of last year, debuted at #1.

In December 2011, Billboard crowned him their artist of the year.

And, this week, Grammy producers confirmed that Chris Brown will be performing on Sunday’s show.

“We’re glad to have him back,” said executive producer Ken Ehrlich. “I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.”

Read that quote again. Think hard about what is being said. Here is what this quote says to any woman who’s ever been abused:

  • By blacklisting Chris Brown from the Grammys for a “few” years (actually, a grand total of TWO Grammy Awards), the Grammys have gone above and beyond expectations for the social exile of an adult man who hit his girlfriend so hard she went to the hospital, and honestly it was really, really hard for them to show even that much support for victims of domestic violence worldwide.
  • It was rather thoughtless of Rihanna to go and get herself hit in the face by her boyfriend, because it’s put such a burden on the Grammys. Maybe if she hadn’t made such a big fuss out of it, things could have been easier for everyone.
  • The Grammys think that they were the victim of Chris Brown hitting Rihanna in the face.
  • The Grammys. Think. That they. Were the victim. Of Chris Brown. Hitting. Rihanna. In the face.

Hitting People Is Wrong, Y’All

I agree that people deserve a second chance. It’s great that we live in a country with a justice system that allows offenders to reclaim themselves and their lives after their sentence. I’m happy about that, and I hope Brown is a changed man at the end of his sentence. (The US justice system has Chris Brown on probation through 2014. It was nice of the Grammys to let him off a couple years early for high record sales good behavior.)

And my suspicion is that Rihanna has no interest in being a poster child for victims of domestic violence. She probably wishes this would all disappear, and I don’t blame her for a minute. She didn’t ask for this – for any of it – and she’s under no obligation to speak out about it.

But someone has to. Because what is happening here is unmistakable. It is, in my eyes, so unmistakable that I wonder if I’m wrong, if I’m missing something huge, because I cannot believe more voices aren’t railing against this.

We – the grown-up influencers in this country, the people with platforms and with educations and with power — are allowing a clear message to be sent to women: We will easily forgive a person who victimizes you. We are able to look beyond the fact that you were treated as less than human, that a bigger, stronger person decided to resolve a conflict with you through violence. We know it happened, but it’s just not that big of a deal to us.

We were so mad when the Komen Foundation pulled its funding for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood. “This is not fair,” we shouted. “This is not fair to women, and this is not fair to the women who don’t have a voice, and we will not allow it.” We shouted it so loudly that Komen reversed its decision in three days. We forced the resignation of one of their top executives.

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  11. I like what you said about Rihanna not being a poster child domestic violence victims. She probably wants to erase that day from her memory. I still have a scar from a year and a half ago when my ex got violent and wish I could erase it. I am so glad to see people fighting and bringing attention that domestic violence is not ok as most of the time us victims would rather not talk about it ourselves.

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  14. Great points, Sasha. Domestic violence is such a serious issue and it should definitely not be swept under the carpet like it is in so many instances.

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  18. When we stop supporting Charlie Sheen (the highest paid actor on TV) then I’ll be NOT okay with Chris Brown.

    (Just in case you didn’t know, Charlie Sheen SHOT Kelly Preston with a gun!)

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself. There has been a lot of outcry against Chris Brown from (White) feminists, acting like he invented domestic violence, but ignoring the fact that we still love and support people like Mark Wahlberg, who beat an elderly man in a racist attack, or Charlie Sheen, or Sean Connery, who has and continues to advocate for beating women who are too mouthy. When Roman Polanski was arrested at the Cannes film festival, Hollywood stars flocked to show their support of a man who drugged and raped a fourteen year old and then fled the country.

      This does not mean that I do not support Rihanna — I do. She’s amazing and strong, and I look up to her for being herself and doing her thing. What I want is more accountability for White men who commit similar assaults. When we acknowledge that Black and brown men are not the only perpetrators of this kind of violence, I will show the outrage this piece asks for.

  19. Making music is Chris Brown’s job. It is his career. Do we tell other people, no you can never do you job ever again because you beat up your girl friend. You just can never ever do you job again. Did they tell KOBE BRYANT he could never play basketball again after he raped a woman? Nope. Kobe still plays, and he’s good too. Chris Brown can still perform, and he’s good to.

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