As you may have read yesterday, I arrived at Midway ready to enjoy Chicago; I have not been disappointed, from the friendly people I have met to the delicious tapas bar that provided dinner last night (The hotel bar at the fabulously famous and wondrously welcoming Blackstone Renaissance Hotel on South Michigan where I have been forced to stay, because I was so late securing a hotel room; somehow, my procrastination has worked in my favor, especially since the rate is far less than the one for the Conference Hotels.) to the temperate weather that has welcomed us so far. Thus I can say the first 24 hours have been great. The only exception was my cab ride to my hotel, but that will be the subject of another blog!
While walking through the airport, I spied the usual collection of magazines at Hudson News, but one caused me to pause: on the cover of US or People or one of those tabloid magazines that catalogs the lives of the rich and famous was a picture of Rihanna, a pop star whose name vaguely rings a bell. Next to her shaken visage were the words, “I still love him.” Apparently, she and her equally famous boyfriend, Chris Brown, were involved in a fight of some kind, and he hit her. I must admit, I don’t know all the facts (for this isn’t the kind of news I follow), but what I do know saddens me. Obviously, any report of domestic violence dismays me, but I was also disappointed in Rihanna and the media.
Rihanna is probably widely (and wildly) popular with young, teenage girls, like the ones we teach, and she may be more of an influence in their lives than we or their parents are. Rihanna has a chance here to make a clear, important, courageous statement that could help impressionable girls (and young women) know what to do when they are faced with such a challenging situation. The media, whose first responsibility is to grab our attention, could have thought more about that statement as well. Did the author have to open with that line? It was the most provocative and eye-catching, but I question whether it sends the right message.
Maybe I should read more about this incident and get my facts straight, but the impression that I have of it, disappoints me. Rihanna missed an opportunity here and the media took the road too traveled by: the one that leads to the most attention, not the one that leads to the best messaging. Let’s hope that Rihanna’s handlers and publicists help her to craft a message that will uplift and help teenage girls, and let’s hope that the media chooses to write stories and print headlines that will inform and educate.