According to NewsOne, Brown and his crew had it out with Drake’s entourage at a New York City nightclub:
According to eyewitnesses, the melee involved flying bottles and swinging fists. The fight allegedly broke out because of a conversation that involved Brown’s ex singer Rihanna. According to TMZ, rumors have swirled in the past that Drake and Rihanna were an item at one time (NewsOne).
Brown’s beloved face was cut during the fight and, of course, he tweeted a picture of his lacerated chin.
The fight is only the backdrop to this post, as I’m mostly concerned with Dr. Boyce Watkin’s response. Some of you may know Watkins, also called the People’s Scholar, for his insightful commentary regarding race, economics, and American culture. Earlier today, Watkins posted his reaction to the fight in an article titled “Advice to Drake and Chris Brown: Only Punks Fight Over a Woman.” In the piece Prof. Watkins rightfully defines the altercation as a “N*gga Moment” (a reference to the animated series The Boondocks) where “otherwise rational African American men get involved in a clearly avoidable confrontation over something really stupid” (Watkins). The “something really stupid” in this case is male bravado, but Watkins would have us believe that Rihanna is the problem. According to the Watkins, the fight was about “two perennial alpha males with enough swag and money to choke a horse, risking their freedom, their careers and their lives to fight over a woman who seems to want everyone to believe that her body is for public worship” (Watkins).
When did a case about grown men acting like unrestrained children become a springboard for critiquing Rihanna? Further, how does “public viewership” of her body somehow make her less respectable and their actions justifiable? Apparently Watkins believes Rihanna is a man-eating woman gnawing on the bones of successful black male entertainers. Aaannnddd, since she likely won’t end up mothering Drake or Brown’s children defending her honor is simply a waste of time.
It’s sad and frustrating that instead of holding these men accountable for their actions, Watkins resorts to the antiquated, yet all too familiar excuse that it’s the woman’s fault. Why not interrogate the cultural codes of conduct that led these men to resort to violence? Why not implore readers and fans to hold these entertainers and their crews accountable for their lack of decorum?
Watkins goes on to offer this simple gem of wisdom to Brown and Drake:
“The downfall of most great men usually involves a woman. A good, loving nurturing and supportive woman can make you greater than your wildest dreams. But a bad woman in the wrong situation can turn your life into a living nightmare. Fighting over a woman is one of the many no-nos that men should keep in mind when it comes to protecting everything you’ve worked hard to obtain.”
Soooo…what have we learned? Great men should be supported by a great women who, in this logic, sacrifices her aspirations to support that man and be the proper trophy. A bad woman can ruin a great man’s life by refusing to uphold a mantle of respectability that affirms black men’s patriarchal chokehold on racial representation. And, when resorting to physical violence to solve a problem, men’s portfolios are more important than people.
How about this: men should not be celebrated for policing women’s bodies, nor should they use women as warrants for engaging in senseless violence. As fans, critics, and readers we have a responsibility to make known the issues that affect our social quality of life. When we (scholars) misread the motivating factors that propelled Brown and his fellas to battle Drake’s crew, we miss the opportunity to cast a critical light on the real problem: violence. We must recognize that Watkins’ critique misses the mark by focusing so heavily on Rihanna’s role in this situation. More importantly, though, we have to abscond from such shaky and oppressive theses and focus instead on preventing violence and gendered oppression.