Brianna Brochu


Should we really forgive whiteness? Black woman didn’t oppose probation deal for woman who contaminated her belongings

March 13, 2018
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I don’t know what made me sicker: college student Brianna Brochu smearing menstrual blood on her black college roommate’s belongings or the roommate, Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe, showing up at Brochu’s court hearing declining to object to the light sentence Brochu would receive.

“By giving her this second chance, I hope she will change her ways and finds love for all mankind no matter what race,” Rowe said.

Back in November, Brochu was expelled from the University of Hartford in Connecticut and charged with criminal mischief after terrorizing Rowe and “began to lash out due to a ‘hostile environment’” and Rowe’s “rude behavior”. Brochu admitted to rubbing blood on Rowe’s backpack and licking her eating utensils but did not admit to the acts she had herself posted about doing on social media, like contaminating Rowe’s toothbrush, toiletries, and food, among other things.

The ongoing abuse culminated in Rowe moving out after becoming mysteriously ill.

“It started with throat pain. I thought maybe because it’s colder up here, I’m just probably catching a cold,” Rowe said in a video.

“The sore throat pain got worse and it was just throat pain. And this was happening for about a month. It got to the point where I had extreme throat pain where I couldn’t sleep, to the point where I couldn’t speak. Like I’d try to whisper, and I could barely whisper.”

So when she didn’t protest Brochu’s motion for a light and expeditious sentence for her crimes, I was more than confused. Confused, but unsurprisingly I guess because black folks sure seem to forgive white cruelty a lot. We chose to “be the better person”.

(At the time of reporting, media outlets, including this one, misreported Rowe’s attendance at the hearing as a show of support for Brochu. This was not the case and Rowe has since clarified that her decision not to fight the sentencing was for other reasons:)

Harsh, but true. Just think about what happened after Dylann Roof shot up the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the survivors and families quickly announced that they forgave Roof for his actions. But, somehow, this always seems to be the go-to position for benevolent black folks who feel that it’s our duty to take anti-black dehumanization with grace while we love and hand-hold the whites who actively do us harm. Why do we have to teach white people about humanity? And when will that humanity be shown to us? More and more people feel that we should let whiteness face consequences, to hell with “being the better person.”

Despite the nightmares, inability to trust others, and other PTSD-like symptoms caused by Brochu’s abuse, it doesn’t look like the justice system plans on showing that humanity to Rowe, but she’s hopeful kindness can change things. And I really hope it does.