A Chance at Redemption
By Todd A. Smith
Chris Brown had it all. The award-winning singer and blossoming actor seemed to be on top of the world. In addition to his successful career, Brown seemed like the type of teenage role model that parents wanted their children to emulate.
The image and the burgeoning career were jeopardized after a domestic assault on pop star Rihanna the day of an awards show in February. On June 22, Brown entered a guilty plea in the domestic violence case and was sentenced to five years of probation and six months of community labor. Despite jeopardizing his career, Brown has a chance to redeem himself and be the face of domestic violence prevention.
“This is a kid who’s never been in trouble before,” said attorney Mark Geragos. “He embraces this as a chance to get the message out that domestic violence will not be tolerated. He wants to get his life back on track.”
Nevertheless, many critics will want to see the end of Brown’s career as a result of his assault on Rihanna. Some may say that someone with his history should never be a role model to our children. I beg to differ.
Often, the best role models are those who have made mistakes, but learned from them in the process and gone on to make a positive contribution to their community. Brown has a chance to do just that when it comes to domestic violence prevention.
The fact that he was so admired by young people across the country will allow him to be more respected by his peers than a stranger off the street with a similar story. The fact that he watched his mother struggle with an abusive mate and his own struggles with domestic abuse will no doubt make him passionate about the issue. Domestic violence prevention will get a boost by adding a celebrity such as Brown to its cause.
Furthermore, as an artist Brown has the opportunity to use his art to express the mistakes of his past, which could also aid in domestic violence prevention. Many musicians over the years have used their art to express their inner feelings and as a means to release the burdens of life. In addition, music has an influence that other forms of art do not quite have, and the pop star and actor could use songs as a vehicle to get the message out on domestic violence prevention.
Just as importantly, if Brown can recover from the damage done to his reputation, it will show young people that despite making mistakes early in life, one can learn from those mistakes and transform their life and career in the process.
This case will also show how forgiving Hollywood is and how forgiving we are as a society. Many Hollywood celebrities have struggled with various vices through the years from drug and alcohol dependency to domestic violence as well. And all Americans, celebrities and non-celebrities, have also made mistakes in our younger days that we are not so proud of.
While many may call for the end of Brown’s career, what would happen if the careers of those critics depended on a mistake they made as a teenager? Would we still judge Brown as harshly?
Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.
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