This weekend, as America was getting its Memorial Day barbecue on, cleaning off the grill and cracking open six packs, Chris Brown was spiraling down into a very public tantrum. It was triggered by his ex Karrueche appearing on Instagram in a photo with Tyson Beckford. Karrueche wasn’t naked and wasn’t even hugged up with Beckford — though if she had been, that would have been her business since she is single. Instead she was just posing with the model.
This led to not one tweet from Brown. Or even one day of tweeting. It led to three days (that’s 72 hours) of outrage. Brown’s crew said they were going to come to Vegas and set Beckford straight if need be. Brown reminded Tyson that to be a runway model you needed legs that work properly. And then he also said he would have sex (but he used the f-word) with Beckford’s “baby mama” and “whoop” their son like he was Brown’s own.
So much is so wrong about all of this. It’s too much to list, including the fact that a man who admitted to growing up in an abusive household and who just got out of legal trouble for being abusive is threatening to beat someone’s child. Brown knows better, but it took him until Tuesday to admit that. On Tuesday he tweeted an apology, saying “I'm light skin! I'm always in my feelings!”
As light-skinned people everywhere cringed and silently begged him not to include them in this mess, Brown continued, adding that he was “wrong,” can “be a man about it” and specifically telling Tyson’s son and his mother that he was “caught up in the moment.” Dark skin Beckford has not publicly commented about the apology, though over the weekend he made it clear that he wasn’t afraid of Brown.
To condemn Brown isn’t helpful. More than once he has been harshly judged and dismissed in the public spotlight. But to excuse threats, possessiveness (over Karrueche) and aggressive sexual suggestions (against Tyson’s child’s mother) would also be a failure. Instead, perhaps the seesaw of emotions that the rest of us feel about Chris Brown’s behavior — where we swing from full-on support of his attempts to get healthier to disgust at tantrums like this one — needs to be put on the back burner as he attempts to sort out what is going wrong.
Maybe the best we can all do is continue to keep learning — and having conversations about —mental health and how it affects African-Americans. And also how it affects Black celebrities. Pretending like what is happening with Brown is just “boys will be boys” is a disservice to him — and to the rest of us who want to understand and unravel the roots of violent behavior.
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