Hating Chris Brown Isn't Racist Until You Make It Racist

Chris Brown (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Chris Brown (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Cord Jefferson argues at Gawker that while it's understandable that Brown's actions get more attention than those of less-famous white men accused of the same thing, there are some signs of prejudice in the attacks on the singer and his fans. 

… Why is it, for instance, that white people like Jenny Johnson seem to delight in tearing down Chris Brown while giving relative leeway to, say, Charlie Sheen, whose history of domestic violence is far longer than Brown's? It's a good question, and if you're asking it your heart and head are probably in the right place. But it's also off-base for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there's the picture. There is a reason that the U.S. government banned photographs of soldiers' coffins for almost two decades: It's because people hate to read and like pictures. People remember pictures. The police photo of Rihanna's face after Brown attacked her is by far the most publicized image of domestic violence in history. People have heard stories about the horrors Sheen inflicted on his victims, and they've witnessed dramatizations of Ike Turner's cruelty to Tina. But that photo of Rihanna — bloodied, swollen, tear streaked — is not words in a divorce filing or a Hollywood starlet acting out true events. It is an unvarnished, grotesque, and unquestionable reality, and it is the kindling that started the blaze this is the world's hatred for Chris Brown.

Beyond that, there's Brown's continued violent and petulant behavior. If, after beating Rihanna, Brown had accepted the court's punishment and behaved like a decent and kind human being in future public appearances, chances are people would be more inclined to forgive him his crimes. Bill Murray, for example, has been charged with hitting his now ex-wife, Jennifer, in the face and telling her she was "lucky he didn't kill her." But people don't constantly link Murray with those violent allegations because Murray doesn't constantly behave violently. Brown, on the other hand, goes into chair-throwing whirlwinds at a moment's notice, tears apart nightclubs during stupid fistfights, and behaves like a racist goon to have fun. And then, when anyone dares criticize him, Brown doesn't engage with those critiques and learn from them; he lashes out and calls his critics "haters," as if anyone who disagrees with him is just jealous.


Read Cord Jefferson's entire piece at Gawker.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.


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