pop circumstance impactEver since Chris Brown’s taped apology was released on Monday, people have been questioning whether or not he deserves the public’s forgiveness? Call me crazy, but I forgave Chris Brown for beating then-girlfriend and fellow R&B singer Rihanna nearly six months ago when the story of his violence first made headlines. While most of the media raked him over the coals for his actions, culminating in a series of domestic violence shows on Oprah, my heart softened for the boy who became the poster child for teen violence.

In no way do I want to diminish, condone or excuse his despicable behavior. But there were two victims of Chris Brown’s attack on his girlfriend. The obvious of course was the beautiful Rihanna, who, like many young women who never speak up, suffered at the hands of an abusive mate. Yet, Chris Brown also lost a great deal that day. Not only did the 20-year-old effectively throw his growing music career in the toilet, but he also became the spitting image of the man he witnessed beat his mother as a child, ultimately succumbing to the stereotype of cyclical violence.

So now, in the wake of his apology, the real question should not be one of forgiveness, but of restoration. Yes, Chris Brown is sorry; but is that enough to redeem him in the eyes of disappointed fans who he so clearly let down by his behavior? And while he claims to be consulting his minister and mother for his struggle with anger management, is that sufficient? The answer may be no. What do you think? How can Chris Brown resurrect his career, or his life in general, following his arrest?

Does Black in America 2 Deliver?

In a week that saw the arrest of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. making big news — with President Obama’s controversial remarks about the Cambridge, Mass., police department’s actions giving the story new legs just when it threatened to die down — the timing was perfect for the premiere of CNN’s followup to its much-discussed 2008 documentary, Black in America. As was the case with the earlier series, reporter Soledad O’Brien presents an ambitious and sometimes poignant series of vignettes about various African Americans. This time, the reports are divided into “Tomorrow’s Leaders” and “Today’s Pioneers.” And there’s much to be inspired by in the reports about Brooklyn teens doing nonsectarian mission trips to South Africa, or inner-city prep school principal Steve Perry’s passionate commitment to his students, or even Tyler Perry’s extraordinary rise from poor Louisiana kid to Hollywood powerbroker. Yet, for some critics, the overall effect feels a bit underwhelming. On the Root.com, for instance, Sam Fulwood III reflects on what he perceives as the show’s fundamental flaw:

[The program features] a narrative designed to give hope to a sympathetic white audience that we black folks are moving in the right direction. It didn’t come close to capturing the ways most black Americans actually live, which was the primary complaint when the first set of these stories were aired …

One of the big questions that always arise for journalistic efforts like this one is, whose the target audience? Are the reports designed to educate and inform interested whites, or to challenge and motivate African Americans? Of course there’s no reason the producers shouldn’t aspire to do both, and that seems to be the goal with Black in America 2. I’m not as critical of the show as Fulwood; we can always use more positive images of successful and altruistic African Americans on TV. But I must confess: I was hoping the program would be more about the new definitions of being black in America. As we integrate further into culture and establish our own businesses, schools, and organizations, how are we uniquely shaping American culture today? Like its predecessor, Black in America 2 still seems a bit more interested in the problems rather than the solutions. Still, it’s an important and worthwhile effort.

Tyler Perry’s House of Compassion

We still can’t get over the injustice of those poor kids getting kicked out of a Philadelphia pool a couple weeks ago. And apparently some celebrities can’t either. Attorney turned television personality Star Jones responded to the incident with an immediate call for a letter writing campaign via her blog, complete with a sample letter to send to the Governor of Pennsylvania describing her outrage over the discrimination. The former View co-host also hopped on the phone with Governor Ed Rendell’s office to make sure the issue was being dealt with appropriately and expediently by the state.

Now the creator of the Madea play and film franchise Tyler Perry has decided to show the kids some love. CNN reports that Perry is sending 65 children from the Creative Steps Day Camp on a trip to Disney World. Hoping to teach the kids “that for every act of evil that a few people will throw at you, there are millions more who will do something kind for them,” Perry has generously offered to cover all expenses for the children’s trip to Florida.

Maybe I’m getting cynical, but it seems a bit much, don’t you think? Sure the kids deserve a good time following the discrimination they experienced, but wouldn’t this be a good time to teach them about standing up for their rights? There won’t always be a millionaire around to whisk them off to Neverland when the hard knocks of life like racial prejudice hit. I guess I’m hoping the kids will grow into Martins and Rosas instead of Tylers and Oprahs. But all right, all right … it’s a nice gesture. I’m on record as thinking that sometimes Mr. Perry tends to overextend himself, but in this case we’ll give him a pass.

Michael Jackson: The Kid Might Be His Son

I’ve been trying to block out all the post-mortem Michael Jackson noise lately — it’s hard to focus on the beauty of his music when the talking heads of the media fill airtime with useless facts about his life and death. Frankly, it’s none of my business which family member gets his children or how his estate is divided. And I really don’t want to know where he’s buried or hear anything about brain tissue.

But one story circulated this week that I just couldn’t ignore. Rumor has it the recently deceased King of Pop may have a 25-year-old love child. The alleged son of Jackson is Norwegian rapper Omer Bhattiv. After his strange appearance among the family members at Michael Jackson’s memorial, people have been speculating about his relationship to the Jackson family. During the service, Rebbie purposefully seated Bhattiv next to Katherine Jackson along with the rest of Michael’s children, fanning the flames of a possible familial link to the deceased star. Now Jermaine Jackson is confirming there might be a possible link. He told the Daily Mail that he often saw the boy around Michael through the years, and there is a small resemblance to Michael’s youngest child Blanket. But with a cloud of doubt still surrounding Michael fathering his alleged biological children — none of whom seem to really “look like” him –who can say?

“If Omer’s his son, he’s his son,” Jermaine Jackson said. “We won’t deny it. We are going to give him the same love and care that we give Prince and Paris and Blanket.” Adding to the speculation, the Huffington Post created a small gallery of photos featuring Michael and Omer through the years. I’m not sure what to think, but if the rumors are true, it’s an interesting confirmation of the old adage “what’s done in the dark will come to the light.” What a shame that Michael may have spent 25 years hiding this secret that could be undone in a matter of weeks following his death.

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