The recent domestic abuse scandal involving Rihanna and Chris Brown has sparked quite the controversy in the blogosphere. Both bloggers and readers have taken to their keyboards to sound off on the details of the incident. Much blame has been cast upon both involved and much judgement has been passed down, but the discussion of Chriannagate ’09 has also taken on another side; particularly amongst those seeing Rihanna as the guilty party for whatever provocation she offered in the situation.
Many have chosen to single Rihanna out as hot headed, irrational, and Caribbean. But since when did “Caribbean” become an insult? Peruse the comments following stories related to the Chris/Rihanna beat-down and you’re sure to find one, if not many, angry bloggers insulting Rihanna and attributing her actions to her West Indian nationality. Fine, people are going to blame the starlet for playing some part in the scandal. But why not separate the girl from the nationality before judging her? Rihanna might be West Indian, but are all West Indians like Rihanna? No.
In fact, it seems like people of Caribbean descent get a bad rap within the industry and in the media as well. Recently, one of Chris Brown’s dancers made a viral video in which he called Rihanna a “West Indian slut.” The problem is, a generalization like that goes beyond Rihanna and encompasses all West Indians. While this could be chalked up to a misuse of words, it seems like there is a negative connotation connected to people, and in particular women, who identify them selves as West Indian.
In a recent episode of the popular Bravo show The Real Housewives of Atlanta, cast-mate Lisa visits her mother who declares that she is West Indian. At that point Lisa comments on how “spicy” such women are. Yet another generalization, albeit not as severe as the previous with regard to Rihanna. Throughout the media it seems like such stereotypical opinions are the standard for this vibrant, diverse group of people. The West Indies is comprised of several independent island countries beginning near the southernmost tip of Florida and continuing to the coast of Venezuela. Considering this, it is strange that so many people from so many different countries are so often lumped together and pigeonholed.
So is this the standard? Do West Indian women really get a bad rap, or are these two instances isolated?