This past Monday, the video of Ciara and Ludacris announcing the nominees for the Top Rap Artist Billboard Music Awards went viral. In the video, Ciara announced all the nominees save her ex-fiance, Future, leaving many views to make assumptions as to why.
NBC News columnist, Yolanda Young took it a step further and wrote an entire essay dedicated to scolding Ciara for not conceding to her ex-fiance’s problematic behavior:
While watching you announce the Billboard Music Award nominations, I, and millions of others, witnessed your odd reaction to seeing your ex-fiance Future’s name appear on the teleprompter: your body recoiled, and you refused to utter his name.
Such a reaction may have been understandable had your former lover been thrust before you without warning. However, considering his status as a premiere hip hop artist, it seems unlikely that you would not have considered that he might receive a nomination for Best Rap Artist. It troubles me that even with forethought, you may not have recognized such a reaction to be disrespectful, to the man, but more importantly, the son you share with him.
My intent is neither to judge you nor dismiss what in all likelihood are justifiable grievances with your ex. Having no children of my own, I can’t begin to know the weight of such a responsibility. And if there is truth in any of what has been reported — infidelity, disengagement, and disparaging remarks about everything from your sex life to your parenting abilities — you have reason to be bitter, but that doesn’t make it a good look. Try this one on for size.
My mom married my dad after graduating high school, shortly before I was born. She endured years of abuse, verbal assaults but also the occasional slap, choke, and blackeye. She finally divorced him after his bullets came within centimeters of ending her life. At my dad’s trial, she asked the judge not to sentence him to jail. This would be the first of many decisions she’d make thinking more of me than of herself.
Read the full essay here.
Within minutes, the article soared through the twittersphere, prompting many folks including ESPN commentator Bomani Jones to respond.
this is the day nbc is gonna wish they hadn’t started their lil black people’s site. cuz bruh… https://t.co/Mkgw7ffqDB
— bomani (@bomani_jones) April 15, 2016
The point was clear among many twitter users — Young unreasonably placed all the blame on Ciara without examining the malicious behavior displayed by her ex-fiance, Future.
We chastise moms who cut ties with their abuser & then if the abuser harms or kills the kids we chastise mom who didn't save their kids.
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) April 15, 2016
@NBCBLK Once again blaming & shaming a black woman without all the facts. This writer's experience has nothing to do with Ciara.
— itsbre (@itsbre) April 15, 2016
@NBCBLK really???? An open letter based on her reaction but no open letter to Future based on his behavior and treatment of Ciara.
— Stand Up!!! ✊🏾 (@BluPhoenixRise) April 15, 2016
@NBCBLK IT seems #1 Future is the one with the grudge and #2 Staying with an abuser and cheater doesn't help you or your kids
— Standard time stan account (@skylerzane) April 15, 2016
@NBCBLK Why is it a woman's responsibility to excuse a man's bad behavior if he is broken?Recall is vulnerability?What about accountability?
— CTGirl7 (@CTGirl7) April 15, 2016
— teetads⁷ ᴾʳᵒᵒᶠ 🦋 (@teetads) April 15, 2016
— Let’s All Be Abolitionists 😌 (@jaZiFRESH) April 15, 2016
— Shanna4 (@CrunkShanna4) April 15, 2016
Three hours after NBC tweeted out the initial link, the article with an editors note, distancing itself from the writer’s opinion:
We thank you for the feedback on that Ciara essay we published this morning. We have added an editor's note here https://t.co/eacHFvzrR2
— NBCBLK (@NBCBLK) April 15, 2016
The public reaction was so substantial, that Young was moved to issue an apology.
— Yolanda Young (@yolandayoungesq) April 16, 2016
In her apology, Young noted that she unfairly compared Ciara’s circumstances and expressed her concern over being accused of victim-blaming:
To those I offended,
There are many aspects of my earlier column for which I would like to apologize. I was accurately accused of using Ciara’s circumstance as a springboard to address issues that do not directly mirror her own. In media today, writers sometimes pounce on current events and use them to frame broader ideas. In my zeal to be topical, I did not give the issues of sexism, single parenting, and domestic violence the care, context, or empathy such subjects deserve and require.
My contrition extends to my leaving room for any inference that I condone or encourage abused woman (or men) to remain in tormented entanglements or remain silent about them. Supporting victims of domestic violence has been my life’s work, and I am distraught to think that my words could be interpreted as blaming the victim or sympathizing with the abuser.
Neither Ciara or Future’s camps have responded to the essay.
Sound off! What’s your take on it?