Where is the shame in the game, ladies and gentlemen?
This rambling post will nominally be about two male artists (Musiq and Chris Brown) but might as well be an open question to all of African America, in particular, and all of America, in general. Years ago a line developed in the black community that you could hear all over the place; don't hate the player, hate the game. Another version that seems pulled straight from the underground economy was this: there's no shame in my game. Thus my question many years later: have we no shame, no self-respect? Have we completely tossed away everything, even admirable pretense, regarding male-female standards of conduct?
Before discussing this subject further, I attempted to test the Grooveshark widget this morning by directly posting from their site to this blog. That test, as we used to say in the Army, was a "no go." So, here's the selection I wanted to post. First, some of the lyrics from Musiq's fantastic single, Buddy:
Pardon me, darling . . . if I alarmed you
I don't mean to bother you I just wanna
Get you to pause and slow your walk so
Maybe we can talk and I can try to charm you
(I'm) Just trying find out who you are
I don't mean to come off like a telemarketer
I ain't no hood, no crook, no robber
I just wanna part of your heart I can borrow
and maybe I could call you up
And maybe I can take you out
So let's exchange digits and later arrange visits
Either your place or mine
This a different type of commitment
I'm talking 'bout a true friendship
Someone I can depend on
To be down no matter what
Let me know if you with it
It would be fly
if you were b-u-d-d-y
Don't be shy,
give it a try
I could be yours
and you could be mine
I can't lie
it would be fly
if you were my b-u-d-d-y
Don't be shy
give it a try
I could be yours
if you could be mine
And here's the actual tune:
Yep, I love this song; the guy has a great sound and is illustrative of what we have largely thrown away in the black community in the decades-long rush toward braggadocious thuggery that can only conceive of women as chickenhead service providers. We're now treated to the disheartening and somewhat sickening spectacle of Chris Brown beating up a black woman (bigtime music star, Rihanna) . . . and many ordinary black women actually defending him. For all that I know, Musiq may be just as bad in his relationships with women. Who knows? But his music has a different vibe, one that reaches back to an aspirational time when black guys weren't pressured to be so superficially callous, shallow and absolutely demeaning to women. Hell, entertainers by definition are superficially callous and shallow without any sort of inherent, internal pressure from the community that gives birth to them futher requiring that they actually live down to such an embarrassing standard.
 I just shake my head at the sadness of it all;  personally, I had never knowingly heard of or seen Chris Brown before this incident. I hope he fades away into irrelevance.
I'm not going to castigate Rihanna (I love the chick!) for apparently taking him back; a man and a woman have to handle their business and I know that can be a very complicated thing. She's caught up in the relationship. I understand that. However, we (the outside parties) have a responsibility to attach severe shame to his behavior. I see that as our job, our role, in reinforcing what is and is not responsible behavior. What will and will not be tolerated. In my estimation, we do an incredibly poor job of this in the black community.
Yes, we are all sinners and yes, personal responsibility mandates that I put myself number one on my own personal list of known sinners. I also know there's a long history of this in our overall community. But . . . has there ever been a time where a lesser-known male star has beaten up a bigger female star and survived the shame of such a punkish act?
Could the disparity between Barack and Michelle vs. Chris and Rihanna be any greater? Is there something of substance to discuss here or nothing more than a blip on the screen? Is all of this reducible to a mathematical certainty of a young couple getting in a fight and boyfriend beats up girlfriend? Separate and apart from politics, this Rihanna/Chris Brown situation presents an instance where the Barack/Michelle coupling has to be used to change the dysfunctional dynamic now prevalent in Black America's popular culture. We'll see if this possible discussion is embraced or buried.