Note: This article contains mention of domestic abuse and assault, which may be hard for some to read.
For context, Kelly presented the award for Favorite Male R&B Artist at the AMAs this weekend. When the crowd booed Chris's win, Kelly said, “Excuse me…chill out" and continued to accept the award on his behalf.
"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,” she continued. “I’ll take this award — bring it to you. I love you. Congratulations. And congratulations to all the nominees in this category.”
"Before we point fingers at anybody, we should realize how grateful we are for every moment that we get. For even our own things that we have, I think it's important to remember to be human, we are humans."
When asked if Chris needs to be "forgiven," Kelly replied, "We all need to be forgiven for anything we could be doing, anything that we’re thinking. We all come up short in some sort of way. And grace is real. And we are humans, and everybody deserves grace. Period.”
Look, it is no business of mine whether or not Kelly has personally forgiven Chris. I honestly do not especially care. What I care more about is what this whole thing started over: Chris winning an American Music Award.
There is a power differential in every flame of domestic and sexual violence — and fame is like pouring gasoline onto it. Say whatever you want about Chris being entitled to grace and forgiveness — it does not mean that he is entitled to more power. It does not mean he is entitled to people happily accepting this. Is this a man who has proven he can responsibly wield the power that endless industry accolades would give anyone? I would argue no.
Because no, I am not only talking about 2009, when he assaulted Rihanna (although I would argue that beating and allegedly threatening to kill a woman is enough of an example). I am talking about the years and years of allegations of assault and rape. Just this year, a woman sued him for allegedly drugging and raping her — which a judge later dismissed.
Look, whether or not Kelly defends Chris is also a minor part of the puzzle here. I am personally more concerned with the fact that Chris is still being rewarded by the music industry. It's not just the AMAs — Chris has been nominated for Best R&B Album at the 2023 Grammys. In fact, he's been nominated for 14 Grammys since 2009, and even won in 2012.
When abusers are given more power, my concern is not solely with the potential victims they may use it against. It's the precedent it sets for abusers everywhere. When I spoke to certified counselor and East Carolina University teaching assistant professor Shanita Brown about a different allegedly abusive man being given more fame and money, she said, "It reinforces this idea that abusers are not held accountable, that nobody will believe [survivors] and they shouldn't speak up."
Because the problem is not with Kelly Rowland, or even just Chris Brown. It's with every allegedly violent man who still makes it onto the Grammy nominations list. It's with every domestic abuser making another movie. It's with the lack of thought given to the women who could have succeeded in the industry if it weren't for the systemic violence. And for that reason, I am so, so tired.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger as a result of domestic violence, call 911. For anonymous, confidential help, you can call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat with an advocate via the website.