Chris Brown’s debut album meant so much to me. As a teenager, leaving high school and home to start the next chapter of my life in college, I could relate to the first tastes of romance with his song “Young Love.” He expressed the validation so many young girls wanted to hear with “Winner.” He made the promises we desired from our boyfriends with “Ain’t No Way (You Won’t Love Me)” and he tapped into our budding sexual expression and agency with “Poppin’.”
Even today, when I hear those songs, I’m transported back to the innocence of those times. Both for myself and for Christopher Maurice Brown.
There was no way, listening to those songs, I could have anticipated the man Chris Brown would become. Nothing in those original lyrics predicted the aggression, anger, confusion and unrest that bubbled below the surface of Brown’s public persona at the time. Today, those characteristics are a part of his brand. The glimpses of that bubbly, still lanky, fun-loving teenager are few and far between these days.
After the infamous, unforgettable abusive situation with Rihanna, I thought I’d be done with Chris and his music. I couldn’t support someone who could do something so heinous. That’s certainly the position White people took. They refused to play his music. He wasn’t invited to perform at their award shows, he was enemy number one.
In an attempt to save his career and get back in people’s good graces, Chris Brown started marketing himself as a reformed man, culminating with a performance of Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” during the 2010 BET Awards.
Brown did interviews expressing his regret, spoke about going to therapy. And in the most convincing move of all, Rihanna took him back. All of it worked. I found myself asking if we should punish Brown indefinitely for his past mistakes.
But long after his relationship with Rihanna fizzled and ended, it was clear that he hadn’t completed his work.
There was the violence he exhibited during his interview with Robin Roberts.
I watched horrified as he followed Karrueche around town, popping up on her and her friends when they were trying to go out and live their lives. I’ll never forget him intimidating one of her friends with the threat of violence. In her attempt to keep Brown from Karrueche, the friend used her body as a barricade. Brown, despite his history of violence against women and the fact that there were cameras documenting his every move, he told her “move before I move you.”
That was enough evidence of abuse in that relationship. But by the time the whole thing was over, we learned there had been more than that. Karrueche explained that he had physically assaulted her throughout the course of their relationship as well, punching her in the stomach and pushing her down a flight of stairs.
A judge granted her a restraining order after Brown threatened to kill her, delivering a classic abuser line to their mutual friends, “If I can’t have you, no one else will.”
And all of this happened before the world learned that Brown had fathered a whole child in the midst of his relationship with Karrueche. You would think after all the hell he put her through, with the passage of five years since they broke up, despite Brown being in a relationship or two of his own, he still makes time to harass his ex.
Yesterday, Brown left several comments under an image Victor Cruz posted of him and Karrueche.
I know there were more than a few people who found these type of antics comical. Oh, look a celebrity still pining after the one that got away. They chalked it up to Brown being lovesick or regretful. With his history, they’re still not seeing this behavior for what it is. Abusive. Four comments on a picture of an ex who had to involve the justice system to escape you is too much. It’s a form of exerting a semblance of control. In these comments, not only is Brown letting Karrueche know that he’s watching, he’s still behaving as if he has control and say over her life, telling her to upgrade her man, to style him. Brown calls her boo and insults the new man in her life. It’s a challenge to both of them, should they happen to see it. And with social media being what it is, I’m sure they’ve seen it. I’m sure in Chris Brown’s mind, he believes he could take on Victor Cruz and emerge victoriously. But given his alleged and–judging by his appearance–likely drug use, I’d put my money on Cruz, a former athlete.
Hopefully, it won’t come to that. But if things do turn violent, I hope Brown approaches Cruz and not Karrueche as has been his pattern. As many times as we try to excuse Chris Brown, hoping that he’s grown, matured, healed, reformed, he finds new and repulsive ways to let us know he’s not about that life.
See what other people, with sense, had to say about Brown’s latest antic on the following pages.
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