Image: Robyn Crawford

Why Robyn Crawford’s Testimonial Could Be Whitney’s Permission To Exhale

It’s about time that Robyn Crawford step away from the shadows and assume her rightful position as the trusted confidante of the late Whitney Houston, who tragically passed away during Grammy weekend, 2012.

We can recall the disturbing photos of Houston alongside her faithful daughter, Bobbi Christina, as she immersed herself in the festivities with the earnestness that almost distracted from the vision of a very troubled woman, who was on the verge of what sadly transpired, when she was found dead in the bathtub of her hotel room at the famed Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.

It was the final chapter of a stormy existence that didn’t start off that way.

Whitney Houston was the version of the “all-American girl” that Clive Davis was banking on in the early days, when her introduction to the masses was contingent on how her viability would translate to the millions of dollars, amassed from the lifeblood of “people pleasers,” who are led astray by the suffocating mechanisms of influential preys.

I was fortunate enough to live in a household with a mother who believed the pure goodness of a soulful voice, that issued catchy tracks about the innocence of love and the happiness from it, would be the ideal soundtrack to a blossoming teen’s library.

It took a decades for me to comprehend the traitorous nature of our existence, that disguises the truth of how we are susceptible to the elements of our undoing in ways that often times can’t be thwarted.

The longstanding narrative that maintained the tainting of Whitney Houston by “bad boy” king of R&B, Bobby Brown, whom she married against the wishes of those around her, was the instigator that kept the Newark-bred only daughter of master vocalist, Cissy Houston, in the category that retained her angelic status, while her embattled hubby suffered from legendary vilification.

Things got considerably worse when in 2005, Bravo unleashed the reality TV series, Being Bobby Brown, back when the concept was still being groomed for the current takeover, and the eye-opening shitfest that captured the struggles of a forty-something icon, during the vital years leading to her failed marriage, was a stunning review of Houston’s rapid decline.

It’s no wonder that Bobby Brown’s ill-fated attempt at resuscitating his broken image ended up working against him and loved ones, when you observe the inherent combativeness that couldn’t hide the bitter resentment against the superstar wife, who was globally revered by the fans who detested his presence in her life, and blamed him for her debilitating drug habit.

The warring couple divorced in 2007, amid rumors of drunken and drugged-filled episodes that led to physical altercations. Houston had no choice but to vacate the premises with her only child, who unfathomably exited this world not long after her mother, in an eerily similar fashion.

But the entangled web of inconsistencies started before the ill-conceived reality show and subsequent divorce.

There was the tempestuous period almost a decade prior, when Houston was plagued by the jarring evidence of her life-threatening habits. She was publicly slaughtered in a heartbreaking interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002, when she coined the unfortunate phrase that suck like glue:

“Crack is whack!”

Sawyer’s probing felt like a direct assault on a crowned jewel that we always believed would retain that luster, regardless of the pressurized cooker that peppered her with the immense task of living up to everybody’s expectations at the expense of her own joy and peace.

The high-profile exposure, truly exposed Whitney’s badly kept secret.

It didn’t help that during the tumultous season before that revealing interview by ABC News, Cissy Houston was forced to call into a popular morning radio show, pleading for our prayers, as she described the acute sense of urgency, that featured her helplessness, when it came to rescuing the blessed child who was raised with the principles, that was supposed to steer her away from hovering evils.

But in-between the haze, there was the hailed comeback tour on the heels of her highly-anticipated 1998 album, My Love Is Your Love, that enjoyed worldwide massive appeal that Houston celebrated with glowing victory with her notable appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1999.

Houston didn’t resemble the harassed and utterly destroyed shell of a woman that would take hold in the months and years to come. This time it was all about flawlessly recalling the height of her superstardom, that was aggressively encouraged by powerful players, who were nowhere to be found when rock bottom hit with vengeance.

The other noteworthy element about the prolific offering of My Love Is Your Love, is rooted in the authenticity of the delivery by a first-class performer, who elegantly evolved her musical style back to the realm of her preferences, after being held hostage by the non-negotiable contract, that stripped her of the freedom of exploration beyond the limits of Whiteness.

Houston was never allowed to be herself because she had to pay those dues to the commanders who created someone who was strong enough to take it, until she wasn’t.

Everyone close and far had personalized demands of the spectacular beauty with the voice like an angel. But that usually builds up to the unsightly climax of how those bullet points of unattainable perfection, end up dissolving with the violence that leaves behind the residue of a fascinatingly complex figure.

When Houston was loudly booed by her own community at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards as punishment for the unforgivable sin of being “White enough” to garner the callous label of “Whitey” Houston by regular folk and distinguished members of her industry — the outright shaming by the mob of public opinion was the hard slap in the face that was unrecoverable.

Whitney Houston’s torture chamber was the snug cell of self-mutilation, which is the textbook style of weathering what can’t be adequately expressed in words.

And even when Oprah invited Houston for another in-depth sit-down in 2009, to promote what would be the singer’s last major studio release, I Look To You, there was a foreboding of what the future looked like for the idolized star, who was experiencing the intense scrutiny and gradual betrayal of countless worshipers in ways that recalled the fate of Michael Jackson.

Jackson had died a few months before Houston’s 2009 interview, under suspicious and terrifying circumstances that aligned with the never-ending challenges stemming from the sexual abuse allegations, that he fought and won, but somehow couldn’t successfully vanquish, due to the irrevocable smear on his battered character that still persists.

Houston’s demeanor was less defensive in 2009, compared to the 2002 disaster with Diane Sawyer, where the fiery responses butchered her hope for empathy. There was the resolution that came with the homage to the eventful past, where she gave Oprah a level of transparency that was appreciated and long overdue.

But even with this more reflective and optimistic version of Houston, there was the overwhelming onset of premature mourning for the priceless attributes, that most say she squandered away with the drug dependency that began even before she met the man, who bore the attacks of how he had activated the demons that never left his famous wife’s side.

The outstandingly affecting “voice” that Oprah had emphasized as the prized asset that will forever uplift her legacy was sorely missing during the valiant performance that capped Houston’s final opportunity to reassure viewers of brighter days ahead.

Four years later she was found lifeless in the bathtub of her hotel room, and the cause of death was accidental drowning. The coroner’s report confirmed that her “coronary artery disease” was enhanced by “cocaine intoxication,” which is proof of the life-long battle that crippled her survivability.

Almost immediately after the untimely demise of the gorgeous soul, who was granted the televised Homegoing service, befitting a loving child of God, who possessed the selflessness that became her undoing— there was the assembly of vultures, far and near, who couldn’t wait to maximize the invaluable proximity to greatness.

Pat Houston, the bereaved sister-in-law, was the mastermind who formulated the groundwork for how she and positioned relatives, could sustain the good fortune of unregulated control over the questionable narrative that would dictate the burgeoning estate of the late Whitney Houston.

The ill-advised TV interview of a shell-shocked Bobbi Christina, merely weeks after the brutal loss of the mother she loved beyond belief was harmful in more ways than one.

But Oprah is the professional opportunist who readily cooperated with Pat Houston, to orchestrate the staged “intervention.”

Despite the high-risk gamble, both women willingly participated in one of many incidences that inconsiderately weaponized a grieving daughter’s heart-rending disposition to feed their own agendas.

Incidentally this seems to be Oprah’s signature move when it comes to swooping in for the kill after the controversial climate that terrorizes the vulnerability of high-profile figures during their lifetime, boldly resurfaces with the worst of intentions.

Case in point, the celebrated darling of the 2019 Sundance festival, HBO’s Leaving Neverland, that elaborately revived the menace of Michael Jackson’s incoherency when it came to his almost-freakish tendencies, and how that was repurposed as the glaring proof of how he sexually molested young boys at his fantastical fortress.

Oprah couldn’t resist the temptation to jump on the bandwagon that carried the coins of gold, pouring from the epic reception to the inflammatory themes of a deeply-one-sided film, that further demonized the already stained legacy of a global icon, who isn’t alive to defend himself.

This is the crux of the issue as it pertains to the deadliness of calculating family members and so-called supporters, who cunningly operate in the wide open, with deceitfulness that’s meant to hide transparent motives.

The formula relies on the morbid obsession of the dearly departed, who have either ascended to sainthood or descended to the devil’s lair.

The actions of Pat Houston, who has consistently professed her love for the younger sister of her husband, may have contributed to the unspeakable loss of Bobbi Christina in July 2015. The poor girl should’ve been insulated from the maddening crowd, and not callously tossed into the gauntlet.

When the 2012 reality show on Lifetime, The Houstons: On Our Own failed to gain traction, it was on to the next, as Pat Houston continued her mission of exploitation by teaming up with filmmaker Kevin McDonald to executive produce the explosively invasive 2018 documentary, simply titled, Whitney, that inappropriately shared details about a harrowing childhood incident that both Cissy Houston and Robyn Crawford, vehemently deny.

But the major player at the center of this extended saga, is and always has been Crawford, the trusted lifeline of Whitney Houston, who has remained stoically silent throughout the decades of upheaval, that referenced her significance in the whispered context that alludes to the intimate ties that bonded both women — for better or worse.

Crawford, 56, is currently on a book tour to promote, “A Song For You: My Life With Whitney Houston,” and as she visits the usual venues, like the Today show, and the unusual choice of The Wendy Williams Show, considering the bad blood that flowed during the period of turbulence when it was “Whitney against the world” — we can’t help but acknowledge the official unveiling of a closeted affair that should be duly feted.

For those who are yearning for glimpses of what “Nippy” was like when the simplicity of being loved in return without the mandated stipulation was the shared belief system of two like-minded partners — you should head over to the insightful chat between Crawford, who is now a married mother of two, and budding filmmaker and creator of Showtime’s hit show, The Chi, Lena Waithe.

There’s been some reservation about the sudden blast from the past, who up until now was casually regarded as the mysterious acquaintance from long ago, who had no choice but to unceremoniously exit the personal and professional hub of Houston’s activities, due to Crawford’s contentious banter with Bobby Brown, which became the catalyst for the inevitable split.

Many accuse Crawford of being a “sell out,” who is evidently ready for the spotlight that she purposely avoided out of respect for the woman that she vowed to protect.

But some of us are convinced that the truth does tend to us free, and perhaps, Robyn Crawford’s emotional testimonial will finally allow Whitney Houston to exhale, after decades of being buried under the debris of relational strife and cruel betrayals.

Cissy Houston never approved of Crawford’s influential presence around her daughter because of how that particular relationship threatened the natural order of things in the eyes of the Lord, but maybe that will change based on new revelations from a reliable source.

I can attest to how getting older reconciles the instinct to make peace and reorganize the pending chapters that are waiting for revisions, and in some cases, the whole damn thing needs to be rewritten.

A shitload of people have had a shitload to say about someone who was misused in life, and continues to be distorted by White male documentarians, and the so-called “sister” who didn’t live up to the code of what that means.

Robyn Crawford is happily secure in the home life that she’s built with her wife and twins, but in order to commit fully to the future, the nagging threads of the past must be dealt with accordingly.

The handful of girlfriends who know me best, have the realest view of what makes me tick, and that reality would surprise the hell out of blood relatives, who are privy to the sides that I choose to showcase.

The lesson from the book of the year could be the unexpected pleasure of being reintroduced to the calm before the monstrous currents, when Whitney and Robyn were blissfully being who they needed to be — together.

And how the one who loved her the most lived to tell that story.

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