Earlier this week, Variety broke the news that Chris Brown would be starring in Nick Cannon's latest directorial project, She Ball, a film about a group of skilled basketball players who help save the Inglewood Community Center. Not many other details have yet to be released, but that didn't prevent many people online from dragging Cannon's decision to cast Brown, who plead guilty in 2009 to physically assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna.
In the subsequent years, Brown has been accused of pushing a woman in a nightclub and becoming violent during a taping of Good Morning America. More recently, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department investigated one woman's claim that Brown assaulted her and stole her phone in 2016.
People took to Twitter to share their thoughts on Brown's casting, which many were uncomfortable with — especially because the film is about women excelling in a sport often dominated by men.
The past year has been incredibly taxing for women. We started out the year marching against inequality and we finished it by coming forward with painful, deeply personal stories of sexual harassment and assault in hopes of empowering other survivors, holding sexual predators responsible for their actions, and eradicating rape culture.
As men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey have lost their jobs (and in Spacey's case, been replaced in a film and written out of a TV series) it seems inappropriate to cast a man known for being physically violent to tell a story largely about women.
How are women supposed to feel as if their voices are heard if the same men who have tried to silence them are rewarded by being put in the spotlight?
While there is no easy solution to reckoning with predators, it's on all of us to continue to fight for change. This includes, but is not limited to, telling survivors we believe them, calling for high-profile men to be held accountable for their actions, and accepting the reality that an apology or confession doesn't absolve reprehensible behavior.
Rather than cast someone like Brown, why not create a role for a woman of color? It's time we focus our energy and money on people who can effectively change the narrative, or, at the very least, not make the women who want to see an empowering story feel conflicted.
Refinery29 reached out to reps for Cannon and Brown.