Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dear Rihanna:"Man Down" Keeps Man Down

Dear Rihanna,

Please take this in the spirit of tough love and concern that it is meant: You may need an intervention. What's going on in your mind, baby girl? 

 I understand it, your new song "Man Down" is meant to raise public awareness about domestic violence against women and empower victims. That makes sense since you were a victim yourself. We all remember the photos of your beautiful face banged black and blue from Chris Brown man handling you. Our heart ached for you. We were outraged at the cruelty and appalled by the nonsense. Your desire to empower women and raise awareness to help our community evolve is understandable and commendable. But um...that's not exactly what you're doing, is it?

Please allow me to point out the obvious. Releasing a song about pre-meditated murder to exact revenge for an assault, then running from the police to avoid prison for the crime doesn't exactly encourage growth and healing, does it? It doesn't help. It harms.

Listening to "Man Down" makes me wonder if you really want to keep man down. Is that true? Or do you simply not care? I'd like to believe that you are just painfully oblivious to the impact your power and influence have on the psyche and sensibilities of our generation. I want to believe, but that's not really true, is it? In your words, "I'm just a girl, I can only be your/our voice!"

Rihanna's Tweets

By your own admission, you are a voice for our generation. Yet you've chosen to use it to sing:

♫...It's a .22 ~ I call her Peggy Sue. She fits right down in my shoes. What you expect me to do if you're playing me for a fool? I will lose my cool...and reach for my fire arm...
Seriously? That's what you would do? That's what you want to encourage girls and women to do? When challenged, you shrug indifference and call it art. It doesn't matter how you dress it up, trying to explain this away as "artistic expression" that reflects the realities of many doesn't fly as a viable excuse for such callous disregard for our people. 

Answering violence with violence and calling it a song of empowerment can only be characterized as short bus logic. Get off the bus! It's taking you in the wrong direction! S.O.S.

How will you feel if/when some misguided young woman picks up a .22, aims and shoots while "Man Down" plays in her mind? Blowing someone away doesn't make you a big girl, it just puts you in the big house. 

Of course, I realize that you're only 23, but you are old enough to count. It's simply not adding up when you do your math, love. I suggest you stop counting on your fingers and use a calculator to multiply the negative affect your influence is having on our community. Your message is not courageous, it's a cop out. 

I realize that you're under fire right now and I don't mean to add fuel, but better for you to be called out than for someone you influence to "man down" and get locked up. Waxing indignant and giving flippant comments that show a disconnect from reality is not a good look. The criticism you're receiving over this song isn't because people are hating on you; it's because you are spewing hate!

All that said, I remain hopeful. You can fix this. Judging by the 6 million YouTube views of your video within three days, you have a captive audience. Now is the time. Your lyrics express deep regret over your fictitious actions. It's time for life to imitate art. It's not too late to ♫ rum bum bum bum  your way to truth. Acknowledging your mistake doesn't make you weak, it shows you're strong. Be a big girl and man up!

Faith + Hope x Love: Tricia Harris

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