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June 2010
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I’ll Take Lena Horne Over Chris Brown


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by Ajani Husbands
(Esface Black)

It’s about setting a higher standard.  There was a time when Black musicians were activists, almost by default.  This is what we’re missing from the Lena Horne generation and the creativie genius of Guru.  We have lost voices who put social consciousness ahead of personal gain.  No, that’s not quite accurate.  For these two, there could be no personal gain without a social conscious.

Lena Horne famously refused to play in segregated venues, attended NAACP rallies (back when the NAACP was synonymous with social conscious), and worked to create anti-lynching laws.  And though Guru wasn’t in the spotlight of activism, the entire persona of his music embodied a social consciousness, the understanding of which was necessary to truly know the conditions of the underclass.

And, now, fast forward to today.

Chris Brown’s music is fantastic.  R. Kelly’s music is mesmerizing.  Nevertheless talent doesn’t excuse criminal behavior.  And yes, we are speaking of criminal behavior rather than socially bizarre antics or even behavior against the grain of widely accepted moral norms.  You can’t beat up a woman and you can’t urinate on a minor without consequences… unless you’re a Black entertainer apparently.

They are not to blame though.  No.  After all, as a community we have constantly let slide ridiculously embarassing behavior from our top entertainers for the past decade.  There was DMX who had no idea a Black man was running for President: “ain’t no ni&&a named ‘Ba-rack’ runnin for president.”  There was Soulja Boy who infamously thanked the slave masters (for slavery of course) so that he could be born in America and “get all this ice.”  And most recently there’s the reports of Lil Boosie hiring hit men to kill five different people.  While Boosie and DMX are on no one’s top five list of rappers, Soulja Boy is, for the moment, a millionaire. And thus we have a Black millionaire in the limelight who loves slave masters… but we’d be more concerned if his next single didn’t bump quite right.

Perhaps entertainers today are at a bit of a disadvantage, given the speed of information today and the media’s inevitable negative slant.  After all, we know more details Michael Jackson allegedly sleeping with children than we do about his charitable donations.  Snoop Dogg is more known for gangster lyrics than coaching a 72 team youth football league in south LA.  All the same, would this not be all the more reason for celebrities to tread with caution?

This isn’t about forgiveness, it’s about standards.  The biggest issue right now is not whether or not one “forgives” Chris Brown (a ridiculoud concept, since that’s between him, Rihanna, and his God), but instead the blind excuses given to defend his actions.  Comments on blogs and news articles alike are swamped with Black men and WOMEN who come up with every excuse in the book to defend his assault on Rihanna:

“she had it coming.”

“she was probably talking too much anyway”

“I’m pretty sure she hit him.”

“What’s the big deal? Women get hit all the time.  Nothing special.”

“I think she lied in that police report.”

The list goes on and only gets more disturbing.  The defense was similar for R. Kelly, with many people blaming the underaged girl as being the culprit, not the adult male who should have known better.

And this is what I mean by a higher standard.  Yes we all make mistakes, but we as a community are going out of our way to excuse these mistakes and sweep them under the rug.

Fame and fortune is a privelege, not a right.  Those of Lena Horne’s generation had to fight against daily obstacles to attain success and had to keep a clean nose to retain it.  Holding our artists today to a higher standard doesn’t mean a “crabs in a barrel” mentality (which I’ve already been accused of).  It means letting them know if they beat up a woman, urinate on a minor, or anyother behavior that would land a normal person on Hard Copy, we will not make excuses for them.  We will call it what it is: criminal behavior.  And we will search for quality elsewhere.  After all, Chris Brown doesn’t sing and dance good ENOUGH to warrant my support at a criminal hearing.

2 Responses to “I’ll Take Lena Horne Over Chris Brown”

  1. Ms. Wright Says:

    Thanks for the comment “feature.” Lol. I wasn’t accusing you so much as I was the thought process.

    Linking R. Kelly and Chris Brown’s situations isn’t exactly fair. Chris was 19 at the time. R. Kelly on the otherhand married a 15 year old at 27 and 35 when that tape came out…yes, Kelly shoulda known a heck of a lot better!

    Why is it so absurd to consider that Rihanna’s not telling the truth? Is this not based in society’s fear of the “violent Black man?” It’s impossible to believe that Chris accepted complete responsibility for something he was only partially involved in. It’s easy to assume that he did everything the report said he did because it’s what people expect of Black men anyway.

    If people really took an objective look at that police report, you’d have so many questions for Rihanna. Someone’s been beating you for 30 mins, they pull over, and your bright idea is…snatch the keys out of the ignition and sit on them…really?! Come on! Oh and whatever happened to that voicemail she supposedly left on her assistant’s machine about callin the police? Never heard that. Wonder why?

    I hate domestic violence as much as the next person. However, I’m sick of women taking advantage of public assumption that they will always be the victim and then in another breath fighting to be “equal” with men. If you really wanna be equal with them, then when you throw a punch expect one back.

    I have no respect of person whether they possess a Lambo or Toyota, penis or vagina.

  2. taiocruzringtones Says:

    Greetings, great article.

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