From the moment rumors began to swirl that R&B legend Toni Braxton is dating rapper and hip-hop mogul, Birdman, there's been a great deal of fascination, and dare one say, obsession over their alleged love affair.
While the purported couple has never confirmed (nor denied) their relationship, their public sightings--from Braxton's concerts to Birdman's hometown of New Orleans--and more recently sitting side-by-side at the BET Awards, all but affirm their romance.
But the craze over Braxton and Birdman's alleged relationship isn't the typical celebrity allure that comes with two famous people courting before the cameras. Birdman, 47, and Braxton, 48, have instead been met with harsh criticisms, some of which shallow and unfounded to say the least.
On CentricTV.com, for example, the comments have been painfully cynical. The general consensus is that Birdman is not good enough to date the likes of Toni Braxton. That a 7-time Grammy winner and multi-platinum singer is a fool to date a diamond teeth-wearing, tattooed rapper. Some have gone as far as to flat out say that Birdman is ugly, or as one reader called him: "trash"--though, of course, it was spelled wrong.
"I'm so disappointed in her, I thought she had class but I guess she likes thrash , and for him she's just another piece of ass," wrote a commenter identified as Michael Jamison.
Even more horrendous, many nasty critics brought up Braxton's bankruptcies, and suggested that she's only dating the rapper--who's worth an estimated $150 million--because she's desperate for his money. One reader argued that because of rumors that the record executive is gay (based on a picture of him kissing his "son" Lil Wayne on the lips), Braxton is in jeopardy of contracting HIV--which is more foolish and reckless than I care to explain.
"Toni Braxton is so desperate if she learned how to budget her money she wouldn't have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for a man with money," Mertice Watkins commented. "She don't read about all the gay accusations. She just nasty. I guess because he got money and she don't know how to manage hers she's willing to catch HIV or anything messing with him. She should think about her sons. smfh."
Who the hell is anyone to make such egregious comments about a man's rumored sexuality (and furthermore his health status) and assumptions about a woman's choice to date? And how miserable of a person one must be to spew such horrid and ignorant remarks. I get that with being a public figure comes public opinion, and I honor the right of free speech, but it's toxic negativity like this that further breeds a world filled with hate and violence.
It amazes me that people could be that worked up about who Braxton may or may not be sleeping with. It's her life. People act as if they actually lose sleep at night because someone they do not personally know, and likely will never encounter in their lifetime, decided to date someone they deem to be unsuitable.
Futhermore, what happened to the popular English idiom of never judging a book by its cover?
While Birdman may look like the big bad wolf preying on the R&B church girl, he's actually nothing like what people think of him. Sure, he's been in prison and came from a pretty rough neighborhood, but he was also able to turn his street smarts into a savvy business acumen that landed him a recording contract and made him a millionaire at 18. Not bad for a man from the ghetto of New Orleans, who lost both his parents between the ages of 2 and 5, and had to live in a boys home for years. And though he ended up in prison at 16, it was there, he says, that he was introduced to the bible and became a man of faith. Birdman has also credited Minister Louis Farrakhan as a close mentor.
Birdman is not only successful in his own right, but launched the career of Lil Wayne, who he raised as his own, and subsequently is responsible for music international superstars, Drake and Nicki Minaj. That doesn't sound like the trash, low-life thug many are making Birdman out to be.
If you've ever watched a Birdman interview, you'd find that he's a rather well mannered and decent man. If anything, Birdman and Toni Braxton likely have a lot in common. Aside from believing in a higher power, they're big on family (both are single parents), and are musical artists who've had to suffer the burden of public scrutiny for the past two decades. Maybe Braxton, who was raised by both a mother and father and comes from a large family, nurtures Birdman in a way he never experienced having been a motherless child. Birdman has opened up in the past about his childhood pain, and admits it's played a role in his struggle to love.
"I grew up with pain. I ain't mad at being hurt," he once told radio personality Angie Martinez. "A woman might leave you...I'd rather have success."
Maybe, just maybe, Ms. Toni Braxton is the woman to show Birdman the kind of love he never knew he needed or even wanted. Maybe she's the suger to his spice, or the Beyoncé to his Jay Z---and lest we forget Queen Bey ended up marrying a man who once stabbed a man in a nightclub and slapped a woman backstage at a concert.
I wonder if people would have the same reaction if Braxton were dating a white billionaire like Mariah Carey. Very few people questioned Carey when she got engaged to Australian businessman James Packer, nor did they seem to have such strong opinions when rapper Eve married British millionaire, Maximillion Cooper. But god forbid a R&B singer like Braxton dates a Black man who happens to sport tattoos on his face and gaudy jewelry around his neck. It's that very bastardizing of the Black male archetype that makes it nearly impossible for men of color to rise above the stereotypes that bog them down. Rather than applauding Birdman for overcoming his circumstances and becoming a self-made millionaire, people choose to shame him based on superficiality and a lack of a Google search.
While the peanut gallery is busy criticizing Braxton for dating a man who they think, for whatever reason, is undeserving of her affection, I salute her and wish her Godspeed on her quest for love at an age when many women are counted out. Following her divorce in 2013 and her life-long battle with lupus, Braxton deserves to have someone who makes her happy, and if that man is Birdman then so be it.
They say love is found in strange places, but maybe what's strange is that people find Braxton's romance with Birdman peculiar in the first place.