Why Rihanna’s Public Reconciliation with Chris Brown is a Problem

“When I realized that my selfish decision for love could result in some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that part. I couldn’t be held responsible for telling them ‘Go back.’ Even if Chris never hit me again, who’s to say that their boyfriend won’t? Who’s to say that they won’t kill these girls? These are young girls. I just didn’t realize what an impact I had on these young girls’ lives until that happened.”

It seems like Rihanna’s either forgotten her own words to 20/20 these days, or simply doesn’t care anymore. After months of rumors regarding Rihanna being in regular contact with former boyfriend Chris Brown, the two made their reconnection public with the simultaneous releases of remixes of Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake” and Brown’s “Turn Up the Music,” with the artists adding verses to each other’s respective song.

Now, when it comes to what Rihanna does in her personal life, it’s not my place to object to her choices, even if she chooses to forgive Brown. It’s her choice to do whatever she needs to do to get past the incident. I think it’s also been abundantly clear since the incident that she doesn’t want to be treated like a victim, which is part of why her music really has become edgier since the incident.

Part of the problem now, though, is that she’s professionally validating him and his actions, which (at least professionally) seem to embrace the bad-boy image he garnered when the incident occurred. That’s where I know I have a problem, because both artists have fans that don’t seem to understand the seriousness of what happened.

If you haven’t read the police report from the incident, take a moment to look it over; the details are excruciating. It may not tell the whole story, but it’s clear between the report and the leaked photos of Rihanna that Chris Brown didn’t simply hit her—he viciously beat her. If he’s sorry for his actions, it’s not apparent based on his public behavior over the past three years, which has included several Twitter tantrums and smashing chairs at Good Morning America.

Of course, the two aren’t the first couple in the public eye to have their share of issues. You can call them the new Bobby & Whitney, or the new Ike & Tina. There really hasn’t been a volatile couple like this with such a young and impressionable fan base, though. The relative lack of maturity shows when fans go online and say that they’d let Chris Brown hit them; it’s clear that not enough has been done to address the fact that what he did was flat-out wrong.

It’s one thing for Rihanna to wish him well in his career, which she’s done before. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. But with the two now collaborating again, it’s sending a potentially dangerous message to their young audiences. The Rihanna of a few years ago understood that she was, like it or not, a role model. I can understand not wanting that burden, but she has a platform most victims of domestic abuse don’t, and she should keep them in mind when making decisions like those she’s made in the past few weeks.


Originally published February 29, 2012 in David Atlanta.

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