Letter To The EditorFree Access

I would like to apologize to Chris Brown, Joyce Hawkins, Clinton Brown, Lytrell “Tootie” Bundy, and the rest of the Brown/Bundy for any offense taken regarding the “Chris Brown Appreciation Day Proposed” article that appeared in the Rappahannock Times on February 8, 2023. I was under the impression the article would solely focus on our plan to recognize Chris Brown for his musical achievements. I would also like to apologize for any disparaging posts left on the Rappahannock Times Facebook page, especially comments that weaponized intimate partner violence to personally attack Chris Brown. As a social worker, I am sensitive to survivors of domestic violence and understand why people may feel triggered by recognizing Chris Brown. I have reached out to a local domestic violence shelter to find out how we can extend conversations about intimate partner violence to our schools and community.

I would be remiss if I didn’t offer insight into intimate partner violence and the impact it has on children who witness it. According to the Childhood Domestic Violence Association, “Children of domestic violence are three times more likely to repeat the cycle in adulthood, as growing up with domestic violence is the most significant predictor of whether or not someone will be engaged in domestic violence later in life.”

Chris Brown’s 2017 documentary, “Chris Brown: Welcome to My Life” explored the concept in detail. Chris said, “I had to hear my mom get beat up every night,” and said he would pee on himself as a child because he didn’t want to witness the abuse while walking down the hallway. Chris spoke honestly and remorsefully about the verbal and physical fights between him and Rihanna. He took responsibility for his behavior and accepted the consequences of his actions. I am not excusing Chris’s actions, only offering an explanation based on his words, professional research, and my clinical opinion.

Most of us are fortunate to live a private life away from bloggers and paparazzi. When Chris left Tappahannock for worldwide fame at 15 years old, his childhood and right to anonymity was sacrificed. I think it’s presumptuous for people to judge Chris Brown without walking in his shoes. The public scrutiny and marginalization Chris experienced since 2009 would have destroyed most people. I don’t know if it’s me or my Christian upbringing, but I believe in forgiveness. I am simply asking we extend the same grace to Chris Brown we desire for ourselves. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone,” John 8:7. Because Chris is famous, some of us feel a desire to unfairly condemn him. Before asking what Chris Brown has done for Tappahannock, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “what have I done for Tappahannock?” Before asking why Chris Brown is going off on social media, look on your Facebook page and ask yourself, “what have I posted that may have offended others?”

I envision “Chris Brown Recognition Day” as a time when the community, young and old, come together to honor a young father who put the town of Tappahannock on the map. A young father who was recently awarded an NAACP Image award for “Outstanding Male Artist” and nominated for a Grammy for “Best R&B album”. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Elvis Presley was dethroned by Chris Brown as the Hot 100’s most decorated male singer. I am not proposing we honor Chris Brown by building a Graceland for him on Route 17, but simply suggesting cost-effective ways his family, friends, and community to recognize his musical accomplishments. The outpouring of community support for “Chris Brown Recognition Day” has strengthened my resolve to bring it into fruition. In my opinion, Essex County recognizing Chris’s accomplishments is long overdue. I am not giving up on Chris Brown and I truly believe his best days are ahead of him. #TeamBreezy

Ronnie Sidney, II, LCSW


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