"Thank God people aren't making excuses for his behavior," Williams said. "There have been lots of occasions where people would say 'Boys will be boys' or 'This is about their relationship.' Instead, I read Jay-Z feels fatherly toward Rihanna and is not going to be any friend to Chris Brown in the future. That's the kind of responsible behavior we want from black men toward each other, that being abusive to a woman will not to be tolerated. And it doesn't have to be only when [Don] Imus says something."
Williams, who, like comedian-author Bill Cosby, champions more personal responsibility from African-Americans, sees a growing shift in the black community's willingness to talk publicly about once taboo subjects of violence, abuse and the sexual exploitation of women.
"Think back to when the film 'The Color Purple' came out," Williams said of the movie that portrayed a black woman abused and oppressed by her father and husband. "A lot of [black] people called it a put down of black men."Now people are like, 'Hey, wait a minute, Chris Brown can't do that.' That 's a big shift, finally."
It's a shift that appears to be filtering down to the newest generation of black children.
Wright-Williams said her middle daughter, Imani, 15, was "completely appalled" when she heard the story.
"She was just disgusted," said Wright-Williams, who has always told her girls that if a boy lays a hand on them to tell their father. "She said she didn't know why he would hit her, what would it make it OK. She has the notion that no one would ever hit her [Imani] because she would break them in half. "
Kuae Kelch Mattox was surprised that her 9-year-old son Cole's third-grade classmates were all aware of Brown's arrest. "They are obviously plugged into the news of what happens with these celebrities," the Montclair, N.J., stay-at-home mom said.
Her message to them: "Let's withhold judgment until we hear the whole story. He's innocent until proven guilty."
Her son, Cole, has already changed his opinion, though. "I never heard anything bad about him," he said. "After hearing about this story, Chris Brown isn't any better than Lil Wayne. Now they are both practically bad guys. If he's actually proven guilty, he should actually go to jail and no one should ever listen to his music."
Antona Smith, a St. Louis stay-at-home mother, believes some of the focus should be on Rihanna as well. "She has to heal. She definitely needs to go to counseling," she said. "I hope the music industry, especially hip-hop, will look at some of the messages they send out about men and women. They are not the only young couple dealing with domestic violence and control. There's a great opportunity here to talk about this."
Author Rebecca Walker, who writes a blog for TheRoot.com, agreed that the focus should be on domestic abuse.
"I am more disappointed by the response to the incident than the incident itself," she told ABCNews.com. "It should be used as an opportunity to discuss violence in general, and domestic violence in particular. It's a good place to begin a conversation about how love shouldn't hurt, and how victims of abuse themselves often become abusers if they don't get proper support.