Reflection ~ Chris Brown (F.A.M.E.)

I remember the night of the 2009 Grammy Awards vividly! News broke that Chris Brown, the nineteen year-old teen heart-throb, the Upcoming Prince of Pop, heir to the King of Pops apparent throne had been arrested for physically assaulting his then girlfriend Pop Princess Rihanna. I was shocked. I shook my head in disbelief as more details were revealed. It all suddenly became very real when TMZ.com released the photo of Rihanna’s badly beaten face. I could no longer deny that this had occurred. I took a stand — and I will always take a stand against domestic violence! As the police reports were released and after Rihanna did her interview with Diane Sawyer, I felt a softening in my heart for Chris Brown. It surprised even me! But after Rihanna admitted that she hit Chris first, I just felt sorry for both of them.

Better Days

I felt sorry that they were too young and inexperienced in their love to talk and work things out. I felt sorry for them because of the sheltered existence that allowed BOTH of them to act out in inappropriate ways that caused irreparable harm to both of them. I felt sorry that Rihanna had been beaten. I felt sorry that the rising star that Chris had been riding was now tainted and he was now “untouchable!”

Time of course passed and these star-crossed lovers let the dust settle as the judge in the case made her decision for Chris’ sentencing. Community Service and anger management was the penance that he was told to serve and he did so in the allotted time and manner as was prescribed by the judge. Rihanna went forward with the love and support of her peers in the industry and her fans, while Chris continued to be ostracized and ridiculed at every turn.

People questioned his remorse, people questioned his regrets and people even questioned his manhood. What they failed to remember was this boy became a man without the guidance of a father. This boy became a man after watching his own mother being abused and suffering from domestic violence. This boy became a man of “means” after being a boy who came from nothing. This boy became a man in the world of entertainment — where nothing is as it appears. His “friends” deserted him, the people who gave him accolades suddenly refused his calls. He knew he had done wrong, but all he could do was try to grow from it and press forward with his music.

I remember when Chris’ latest CD F.A.M.E. (Forgiving All My Enemies) came out. I was excited for him. I wanted to hear about the things he had learned. I was glad he had time to reflect on his life, his choices, and his “friendships.” His music matured, the lyrics were certainly more sexually explicit and less bubble gum. He had changed, he was embarrassed and remorseful about what had happened but what was crystal clear, people where not ready to hear from him. It is three years later and people still aren’t.

I have to state that, “I do not condone Chris’ actions in beating Rihanna, but I do not believe that this particular action defines who he is and who he shall ever be.” I know that I will lose readers at this juncture, but I encourage you to continue reading.

F.A.M.E. to me, is a call for all of us to really look at what it means to FORGIVE! I realize that this is a difficult task for all of us. No one wants to condone domestic abuse. We know it is not right for guys to hit girls, we also know girls should not hit boys and we all learned that in kindergarten. No one wants to excuse Chris Brown for this assault, but I find it interesting how many other celebrities have not received this type of backlash after a domestic violence issue. Jackson Brown, James Brown, James Taylor, Wesley Snipes and a host full of other celebrities have never seen the likes of other celebrities condemning them, like Miranda Lambert has done towards Chris Brown since the 2012 Grammy’s. The only exception that I can think of was Ike Turner!

Miranda Lambert’s dismay that Chris Brown performed twice at the Grammy’s this year and won two Grammy’s was not an isolated reaction, her’s was just one of the most verbal. Twitter was all a buzz with Chris Brown haters. Domestic Violence haters. Friends began threatening to unfollow each other and in the midst of this three-hour show, something stopped me dead in my tracks! There was a tweet sent out from the Huffington Post from 25 different women, which stated in no uncertain terms that Chris Brown would be welcome to “beat” them as long as these women could be his girlfriend. Yes, you read that correctly! There were young women, whose self-esteem and self-worth is that low that they were willing to broadcast that they would be willing to accept such horrible treatment at the hands of a superstar.

As the parent of a tween aged girl, I found this to be shocking. What are we teaching our girls? Why would this be acceptable? Is the fact that he has “gotten away” with this given young girls and women the ideology that domestic violence is okay? This certainly gives us reason to pause and think about our own reactions to domestic violence, the way we condemn abusers, the way victims are perceived, the way that the law punishes them, and the standards and tolerance that our society holds abusers accountable.

It would be great if both of them put forth a positive message about the pitfalls of being young and in love. It would be great if Chris would talk to young men and tell them that they have an alternative to using their hands. It would be great if Rihanna would tell young girls and women, that sometimes love just ain’t enough and encourage them to feel better about themselves and walk away because love is not supposed to bring them injury or physical harm. They could both be great role models by speaking out about domestic violence, but the public relations machine that makes them their money has advised them both to do otherwise in order to keep the money coming in. Only GOD knows what their future holds, but the aftermath of their relationship has had a great effect on our youth according to the non-profit called Futures Without Violence (formerly known as the Family Violence Prevention Fund), according to their website, “1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped or physically hurt by a partner.”

Chris Brown is a young, talented man who is trying to go forward with his life as is Rihanna and apparently they have found it in their hearts to forgive each other and if they can do that and it truly appears that they both have, then who are we to still judge them!!! As they continue their musical journey this week with the release of two songs that they have released together. One of the two songs (Birthday Cake) is already controversial because of its lyrics and intimate nature.

I can only hope that this will be a peaceful journey for both of them and that they have learned the hard lessons of their youth. It’s their business and as public figures it is now our business. We have the power to speak out against what we believe is wrong but we are not the ultimate judge! GOD is the only judge that matters and GOD is the only one that truly knows both of their hearts. So the next time you begin to spew hatred about an incident that took place three years ago, please take a moment and think about what your own life was like three years ago and how it has changed. Think about a time in your life when you did something that you regretted and think about how hard you worked to overcome that situation. Think of all the people who embraced you at that time and think of all the people who went out of their way to remind to just how terrible you were because of what you did. As you remember that time, I hope that you will find it in your heart to forgive him — not forget what he did, but forgive him. He has already professed his forgiveness for you publicly!

Don’t you think it’s time for us to forgive all our enemies? Let the debate begin!

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Song of the Week ~ We Found Love (Cover by Boyce Avenue)

I love music and it touches me in the strangest ways and at the strangest times sometimes. The melodies evoke emotions and memories of times long since passed.  Music is the pulse of my life.  I love popular music, acoustic music, gospel music.  Honestly, I love a little bit of everything!

I am always attracted to the words of a song.  I wonder what the writer was thinking when I hear it.  I often try to avoid seeing a video to a song until I have gotten a grasp of its lyrics because I find that video treatments often don’t match the song.  I had the pleasure of hearing WE FOUND LOVE by Rihanna as an acoustic cover version of the song by Boyce Avenue and I am so glad that I did!  This stripped down version truly touched my heart.

I had forgotten all about Boyce Avenue’s version after Rihanna’s synthesizer infused original version hit the airways and the seductive drug reference filled video hit the video channels.  I watched a behind the scenes show about the making of the video where she said,  “Love is unexplainable, intoxicating and illicit just like a drug.”  She went on to talk about the good and bad sides of love and the feeling of being out of control and how sometimes we need to release the very thing that we value and love in order to love ourself.  To say that I was dumbfounded was an understatement!

Flash forward two months.  It is Sunday morning. January 29, 2012 at my Church’s Bring A Friend to Church Day.  The theme is the “Power Of Love.” The message was about finding a place of love during difficult times.  It was full of hope for the hopeless, spiritually broken, and those that needed to reconnect to the power of the cross and reconnect with GOD.  The message spoke of promises of forgiveness and new life.  Communion was served and the chords of the piano began to play and my favorite soloist began to sing:

“Yellow diamonds in the light and we’re standing side by side”

By the time she sang, “Because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny. But I gotta let it go.”  I was in tears.  I never thought of this song in this context but it was a beautiful call to the altar to restore people’s hopes and dreams.  A call for people to release addictions or hurt and pain from their past.  I was uplifted in a way that I have never been before while listening to this song.  It took on a whole new meaning and its one that I am going to keep in my heart this week and beyond.  Like I said, music can soothe the soul, convict the heart, and release the past.

We Found Love LYRICS:

Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive
Because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

Shine a light through an open door
Love and life I will divide
Turn away cause I need you more
Feel the heartbeat in my mind
Because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive
I because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

Mending Fences — A Modern Father’s Day Tale

@2011 By Sammie Love. All Rights Reserved.

Twenty years ago as we anxiously anticipated the birth of our first-born son, we welcomed Fathers Day full of smiles. All of our hopes for the future, dreams of who our son would become and the profound love that the two of us shared were safely and warmly wrapped up in my belly. We counted the days until he would arrive. As I look back at that Father’s Day I could have never predicted the three of us would never spend a Father’s Day together. Even more unsettling than that is the fact that my son’s Dad had not spoken to us in fifteen years until very recently.

So as I sit here on this Father’s Day morn, and I find it ironic that after not speaking to the child that was loved so much from the moment of his conception, cherished from the second he was born and abandoned by the time he was two. That we (my son, his father and me) are ALL mending fences, yet this will be the first year I am calling my son’s Dad to say Happy Father’s Day. Most surprising to me I’m not just me saying the words, it’s me saying them and truly meaning them!

I have been my sons, Mother, Father, disciplinarian, and loudest cheerleader. I have worked hard and provided great male role models for him like his Papa (Grandfather), his Uncle, his Step-Father, and other male friends for him throughout his life, but at the end of the day and in spite of all my hard work I knew that my son was missing his Dad!

My son needed to connect with who he was and why he did certain things that he did. He needed to know about the other side of his family, his siblings. He needed to ask those questions that children who’d been estranged from a parent need to know and ask. He needed to know that he was wanted and loved by his Dad and his Dad was the only person that could provide those answers.

Well GOD moves in such mysterious ways and his grace and miracles never cease. He is a mover of walls, the healer of pride and the maker of humbleness. So when my now twenty year-old son informed me that HE wanted to make contact with his Dad, humbleness swept over me, my years of anger subsided, my pride dissipated and grace allowed me to write a simple email to an email address that I wasn’t even sure was still valid. The response was so quick it was mind-boggling!

It’s been a week of letters, phone calls and text messages. A week of trying to piece back together lives and trying to understand where things fell apart. Its been a week of acknowledging those people in our village that helped raise this man/child. It’s been a week of self-examination, reflection and remembering love! I’m not sure where we will all be next Father’s Day, but I hope it will be celebrated with hugs and kisses in person by these two men that are continuing to mend fences.