this is the first of what could be many blog posts in dialogue with goddess jaz at goddesses rising. we have taken it upon ourselves to examine our feelings and thoughts on intimate partner violence, triggered by the rihanna/ chris brown incident. this series will not just discuss them, but IPV against women across the board. to facilitate a flow of words, jaz and i have opted to follow the letter writing format utilized by the women who write the kitchen table blog. i intended to post my letter shortly after jaz’s initial post, but the words just would not come. alas, here i am now with more to say than i ever thought.
first, thank you for agreeing to do this with me! it’s an honor and a privilege. let’s see if we can’t make a dent.
i’ve been rolling my thoughts around, trying to best articulate my disturbances around this whole thing and attempting to string those thoughts together to create a coherent point. my mind keeps coming back to one simple point: this is bigger than these kids or twitter, bigger than any blogs or newspaper articles. unnecessary violence, particularly in close relationships (romantic as well as familial) is a problem that belongs to each of us. so, it is with that thought in the forefront of my mind that i’m processing the entire mess and the conversations/ actions that have resulted from it. these conversations and actions concern me much more than the current state that either rihanna or chris brown is in right now.
my concerns reflect yours, definitely. and my initial desire was to see to it that we discussed the impact of various kinds of media (especially gossip blogs, twitter, facebook status updates, and the text message fowards) on public opinion. but i’m now in a new space.
because i’ve seen a photograph of rihanna’s face after the incident. i’m in angry mode. again. the gossip blogs have, from the beginning, been on my nerves in varying degrees. but now one of these blogs is the source of the very photo i did NOT wanna see. it was easier to imagine the horror than to see it with my own eyes. not that it didn’t seem real before, but that it made the whole situation that much more real to me: rihanna’s privacy was not protected or respected. not by persons in her camp or at the hospital where she was examined, not by people who know her or her alleged attacker, not by the LAPD employee who leaked her photo to the internet, and most certainly not by the media.
this whole incident has a crazy tone to it, a media circus for lack of better words. it went from speculation to insane made up justifications for the attack itself. crazy rumors about STDs, jealous fits, and failed breakup attempts abounded. all the while, my concern was the repercussions in the world at large. children discussing these things amongst themselves (and sometimes with adults) might have concerns or questions similar to the grown folks who seemed to be all over the internet talking about it: how long had this been going on? was it likely to happen again? would they get back together? why would they get back together? in my opinion, it matters less what we know about chris and rihanna. it matters much, much more what we know about the women who are counted in the statistics we hear about so often and the women whose stories we catch on the news. i believe that the seriousness of the situation itself was diminished greatly by the fact that this involves two “celebrities” instead of everyday citizens. because they have wikipedia articles, we’re not supposed to know when we’ve encroached too much on their lives? yes, it is important to discuss intimate partner violence. yes, it is important to fans of an artist to know how well their favorite artist is doing. but what we don’t need to know — especially because neither chris brown’s people nor rihanna’s people haven’t said anything — is what kind of relationship they have. we don’t need to know any of that unless either of them decides that it is necessary (as part of their healing, and only then) to speak on the situation or the nature of their relationship. no.
what we need to know is that violence is the norm for too many of us. what we need to know is that children who grow up in abusive environs grow into teens and adults who don’t know how to deal with conflict in a non-violent way. what we need to know is that intimate partner violence does not lie specifically in the hands of the men, of the women, of the heterosexual or the underprivileged. there was a sentiment of, “they shoulda never gave you niggas money,” a la dave chappelle as rick james. but i give thanks that these two young folks have their privilege. why? because we now have contemporary faces for this problem. there is now a more immediate reason to discuss these issues with our children, with our peers. this is the opportunity we as concerned community members must utilize to have dicussions.
i’ve struggled with what i wanted to say here, because i want it to be impactful and clear. but something i’ve realized over the past few days of writing is that murky situations very rarely yield clear responses. it takes time, it takes dissection, and sometimes it takes walking away from the issue and reviewing it with new perspective.
it is my prayer that these two young folks have some new perspective — and that if they have not yet gained it during their separation that they develop it — so that they can begin to heal themselves.