Perspective Without The Drag
There’s nothing more satisfying than a good, ole’ fashioned calling out on social media to hold people accountable for their actions. We can’t deny that cancel culture has effectively combated wrongs done to others, and it’s helped in having important conversations like #OscarsSoWhite, and brought to light sexual assault and unfair treatment of women during the #MeToo movement. Consequences were severe for some and not for others.
Although it took many years and many accusations, R. Kelly finally faced numerous sexual assault and abuse charges and was removed from music playlists. Author JK Rowling was canceled for tweeting transphobic comments and then doubling down with even more problematic comments when called out. And Amy Cooper was fired from her job, lost ownership of her dog, and had to face criminal charges after falsely accusing a Black man (who was birdwatching) of assaulting her. Then there was Piers Morgan who was canceled for continually making racist and derogatory comments about Meghan Markle.
Yes, cancel culture is subjective. Some say it’s a form of censorship, and others say it has created a platform for shaming. But I would argue that it has actually provided a more equal playing field and given marginalized groups more power as a collective voice. That means it’s not so easy to get away with racist, sexist, and bigoted behavior because the keyboard activists are not having it. Rightfully so.
Just last week, Kelly Rowland graced the stage at the American Music Awards to present the award for ‘Favorite Male R&B Artist’ in which Chris Brown was the winner. Surprisingly, the crowd booed him, and let’s just say Kelly wasn’t having it. She gave the crowd a “Here’s what we not gon do” finger and proceeded to praise Brown:
“Excuse me. … Chill out,” Kelly said. “But I want to tell Chris, thank you so much for making great R&B music. And I want to tell him, thank you for being an incredible performer. I’ll take this award, bring it to you. I love you. Congratulations, and congratulations to all the nominees in this category.”
I have to admit that I was surprised by the crowd’s reaction, because Chris Brown has won awards in the recent past but hasn’t been booed. This crowd, however, ain’t forgot about nothing.
Let’s be clear, Chris Brown has been problematic. It was the incident with Rhianna; multiple women reporting his physical and/or verbal abuse; Karrueche Tran was low-ley stalked by him and was granted a 5-year restraining order claiming that he “punched her in her stomach twice and pushed her down the stairs.” He also threatened to shoot her and told friends that he planned to kill her.
But somehow, someway, people fixed themselves to want to cancel Kelly Rowland for stopping people from booing at an award show…but never thought to cancel Chris Brown?
It’s reminiscent of Erykah Badu in 2019. While performing on stage, she told the crowd she’s “putting up a prayer for R.” Of course, she was met with boos from the crowd. “That’s not love. That’s not unconditional love.” she said.
Later on social media, she spoke directly to R. Kelly: “That doesn’t mean I support your poor choices,” she wrote. “I want healing for you and anyone you have hurt as a result of you being hurt. Is that strange to you? That’s all I’ve ever said. Anything else has been fabricated or taken out of context.”
After this happened, everyone started coming for Erykah Badu and saying that she was attributing to the reason why Black men continue to mistreat Black women. People wanted to cancel her but haven’t canceled R.Kelly? The only reason he's gone is because he's locked up.
These two Black women proved that they are not just friends in the dark but in the light as well. As Erykah Badu told R. Kelly that she supported HIM and not his choices. I'm sure that Kelly Rowland still remembers those images of Rhianna's beaten up face. But Chris Brown is still a friend that she supports. We can feel as if they are dead wrong for their perspectives - but canceling them? No.
So yes, maybe Kelly Rowland shouldn’t have jumped in the mix. Maybe Erykah shouldn’t have said not one word. But the reality is, whether we like it or not, they are friends with these men. I don’t believe any of us can say that we don’t have problematic people in our lives. We have family members and friends who have done some messed up stuff, yet we'd still ride with them until the wheels fall off.
It’s pretty messed up that just days before the American Music Awards, everyone rallied around Kelly because of the interview with Peter Rosenberg. During the interview, he asks her how it feels to be second to Beyonce. Even though she gave a thoughtful, eloquent response, he still kept on. Later, after social media got a hold of him, he apologized to her for his ignorant behavior.
That switch can flip so fast. I’m sure that Kelly is used to it, but it still doesn’t make it right. And maybe, just maybe, if everyone used the same energy towards equity in this world, cancel culture wouldn’t even exist. Perhaps, it’s easier to point fingers and sling mud rather than take accountability.