Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Rihanna making a bad decision?

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
December 5, 2012 -- Updated 1500 GMT (2300 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Rihanna's flaunting of her apparent reconnection with Chris Brown is a harmful message.
LZ Granderson says Rihanna's flaunting of her apparent reconnection with Chris Brown is a harmful message.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: Rihanna seems reunited with Chris Brown, who beat her in 2009
  • He says pair flaunts their intimacy on social media; Rihanna sending poor message
  • He says most women who report abuse have been victimized before by same man
  • LZ: It's her choice, she needn't apologize, but may not be able to count on fans' sympathy

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs

(CNN) -- Recently it has seemed that every other tweet or Instagram posted by pop star Rihanna taunts the public with an uncomfortable thought: Singer Chris Brown, the man who beat her so badly in 2009 that was she was almost unrecognizable, may once again be her lover.

Rumors the two had reconnected began circulating not long after their infamous altercation, which ultimately resulted in Brown pleading guilty to felony assault. Then earlier this year there was the remix to Rihanna's song "Birthday Cake," in which Brown was the featured guest vocalist offering such coy nuggets as:

"Girl I wanna --- you right now

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

Been a long time I've been missing your body".

OK, maybe "coy" is the wrong word.

In any case, the couple's allusions to their reunion --a Twitter picture showed her embracing a man who appears to be Brown; another showed a man presumed to be Brown face down and shirtless on a bed -- culminated with Brown posting a photo of himself and Rihanna, who appears to be in her underwear. "What would music today sound like if these kids didn't exist?" the caption read.

Entertainment: Chris Brown ready to start a 'new chapter'

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Normally I don't like to get too involved in grown folks' private business. But when you use social media to shove your business down the public's throat, it's no longer private.

Rihanna doesn't need to be a spokeswoman for victims of domestic violence, nor does she need to live the rest of her life as a victim. But someone needs to send her a copy of "What's Love Got To Do With It," or something, because she's sending a message that everything is fine and that the man who beat her is "a good man." Maybe so, but 77% of women her age who report domestic violence have been victimized previously by the same man, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

This fall, some Upstate New York high school students dressed up as Rihanna and Brown and reenacted their fight in a school skit for fun. When one treats serious matters like this so lightly, does one inadvertently gives permission for others to do the same?

Rihanna 'felt protective' of Chris Brown
School under fire for blackface bit
Chris Brown's new tattoo called 'creepy'

When the world first saw the images of Rihanna's face after her fight with Brown, many rushed to blanket the songstress with support. The way she is flaunting their relationship now, I don't anticipate the same amount of sympathy for her if another incident occurs.

Perhaps that's why she (preemptively?) called her latest CD, "Unapologetic." She likely knew she would hear a lot of criticism and I guess she wanted us to know she doesn't need our sympathy.

Famed hip-hop author dream hampton recently tweeted that "Rihanna's a dissertation, waiting to be written."

She's right.

Entertainment: Chris Brown renews 'friendship' with Rihanna

At 24 with 12 No. 1 singles and five Grammys, the singer is already an all-time great in terms of chart performance and sales. She's far more complex away from the mic, often seeming to reveal herself in the 140 characters she uses in her tweets... with the exception of one song.

Her biggest seller to date, 2010's "Love the Way You Lie," is a duo with Eminem. The song is about a physically abusive, love-hate relationship.

As Eminem, who has had his own very public dealings with domestic violence, raps:

"You swore you'd never hit 'em, never do nothing to hurt 'em"

Rihanna hauntingly sings:

"Just gonna stand there and watch me burn

Well that's alright because I like the way it hurts..."

After that recording, I thought Rihanna had gotten Brown out of her system. I guess love, no matter how poisonous it appears on the outside, is a hard drug to recover from.

Since completing a 52-week domestic violence program, Brown has shown about as much control over his temper as Bruce Banner.

After his 2011 interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America -- in which he said his attacking Rihanna is "not really a big deal to me now" -- he reportedly went to his dressing room and trashed the place in anger. Allegedly, he smashed a window that sent glass falling into the street below, before storming out of the building, shirtless, in 40-degree weather.

More than once he's lost his temper and turned to Twitter to tell critics to "--- off," or in the case of comedienne Jenny Johnson, wrote he'd defecate on her face. And then there's the bar fight with singer-rapper Drake.

Again, this is a year after anger management.

Oh, I can hear Brown fans now -- leave him alone. He did his time. Stop hating.

Entertainment: Chris Brown's creepy new tattoo 'not Rihanna'

Listen.

I grew up with domestic violence all around me -- from close family to friends -- and I tend to believe if a guy hits a woman once, she needn't stick around to see if his apologies are sincere.

But it's Rihanna's choice, and apparently she's not interested in apologizing for the decisions she's made. And if there's a repeat of 2009, a lot of us won't be interested enough to care. After "Birthday Cake" I'm not sure if I would care.

Hopefully that incident was a one-time thing and she'll be alright.

Hopefully.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Robert Hickey says most new housing development is high-end, catering to high-earners.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Alexander Motyl says as Russian President Putin snarled at Ukraine, his foreign minister was signing a conciliatory accord with the West. Whatever the game, the accord is a major stand down by Russia
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Les Abend says at every turn, the stowaway teen defied the odds of discovery and survival. What pilot would have thought to look for a person in the wheel well?
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 1104 GMT (1904 HKT)
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1958 GMT (0358 HKT)
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT)
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1256 GMT (2056 HKT)
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 2036 GMT (0436 HKT)
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1708 GMT (0108 HKT)
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT)
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1817 GMT (0217 HKT)
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1752 GMT (0152 HKT)
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1250 GMT (2050 HKT)
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT