Steffanie Rivers

*I wasn’t in downtown Dallas on the day Erykah Badu got buttnaked in Dealey Plaza. But just like most people, I heard about it and I’ve seen still shots of the video.

It took guts to get naked in front of dozens of strangers, although I do it in the gym locker room before and after my workout. But that’s different.

As a longtime producer of video projects I understand the need to just get the video done and worry about the backlash later. But anybody should make sure their actions are worth the rewards or even moreso worth the consequences.

Although Badu has said she stripped to symbolize the layers of negativity that keep most people from evolving, I think it’s safe to say her message has been lost in the way it was delivered.

The pictures I’ve seen show the singer clad only in panties walking along on a public sidewalk. Bystanders – some with children in hand – looked on in disbelief.

My mother said when I was a preschooler I asked so many questions one day that she said “Steffanie, please don’t ask me anymore questions today, okay?” and we continued on in silence. Can you imagine the questions that would come from a child after seeing a woman strip out of her clothes in the middle of a public place? Talk about anotomoy 101 class!

Badu stripping down in 'Window Seat' video

Even as a mother of three, Badu failed to consider the impact her nakedness might have on children. How would she like it if somebody stripped naked and walked through her front yard while her children where outside playing? They probably would have been eating grass facedown with handcuffs on.

And since most broadcasters aren’t showing the naked scene in the video anyway or have pulled the entire video from rotation, the backlash she has experienced so far might make it not worth the trouble.

Dallas police have charged Badu with disorderly conduct, a charge most people can catch while attending a rowdy sporting event. So, it might be no big deal.  But I doubt she would be facing any charges had she, say, stripped naked in the middle of her concert for adults who actually paid to see her. She would have gotten the video for her project and probably would have sold out her concerts once word got around. Or what if she stripped in a wooded park area like a Black Eve picking berries from a tree? I think she would have been safe there too.

Everybody has the right to freedom of expression until that expression imposes on the rights of others. And that’s where I think Ms. Badu crossed the line.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send questions, comments or requests for speaking engagements to Steffanie at [email protected]. And see the video version of her journal at youtube.com/steffanierivers.