back in february, there was the letter...now the Oprah interview

i'm going to try to keep this under 10-page-term-paper length.

first, i think many folks are forgetting how young these two were and still are.  i'm about 10 years older than Rihanna, which means she's younger than my baby brother.

i also wonder how many folks are looking at the situation far removed from the dubious relationships of their 20s.  'cause you know what they say about hindsight.  and many of those lessons--horrifically painful or just a little heartbreaking--are necessary for us to grow into our full selves at 30something and beyond.   i want to save them from that as much as anyone. but the reality is that sometimes you just can't.

secondly, i'll repeat what i always say when we hear about the latest celebrity divorce, infidelity scandal or whatever: no one knows what's gone on behind closed doors.  intimate relationships are complex, nuanced, messy things. in love, we forgive what we'd kill someone else for thinking.  we don't know what conversations they've had, who went to what therapist, what late night conversations were had--on the phone or otherwise.

we also don't know--with the exception of Chris' admission to growing up seeing the "too much" too many black boys do--what they come from. who their examples were.

yes, kids always look up to the "cool".  i loved my teen idols as much as anyone else.  but you know who kept me from imitating every move, hairstyle, and wardrobe choice?  my parents.

i'm aware of and sensitive to the fact that not everyone has the same guidance.  but that doesn't make Rihanna an automatic role model any more than Madonna was in her day, or Etta James in hers.  we could debate the pros and cons of that...but i think too many folks forget to ask why familial and community-based relationships are so lacking.

kids who have to create fantasies to escape their realities are indicative of much bigger fish that need frying.  girls who don't have someone to protect them from dating an around-the-way-Chris are not going to stop dating men who beat them because Rihanna takes a stand.  they'll continue to blame her (and other victims), ask what she did to provoke it, and keep trying to be perfect to avoid their own assault...until they heal.  Rihanna talks about this sort of revelation in her time with Oprah.

on the flip side, every girl with a daddy worth the name knows that if they come home with a face looking like Rih-Rih's did, somebody's gonna die. full stop.    

we also seem to forget that because we have more access to celebrities than ever before, we're seeing more unfiltered versions of their lives.  the machines that surrounded many of our old school artists now only work for the biggest of the big (see: Beyonce).

and even then: we know what happened when Marvin met Janis. Ray Charles' heroin issues were all over the news.  and the Beatles damn near shot themselves out of the sky for being arrogant enough to proclaim themselves bigger than Jesus.

celebrity is celebrity.

life is life.

before judging someone in Rihanna's shoes, we'd do well to remember that. 

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