By Jeremy Kinser
Originally published on Advocate.com September 11 2012 8:18 PM ET
The new tattoo on Grammy Award-winning musician Chris Brown's neck, which some have believe to be very similar to a photo of Rihanna after the couple's domestic abuse altercation, is actually a popular image of a skull associated with the Mexican celebration the Day of the Dead.
Three years ago Brown was convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna following an argument between the two while traveling in an automobile in Los Angeles. Since then the 23-year-old musician has publicly apologized, gone through domestic violence counseling, put in six months of community service, and even been publicly forgiven by Rihanna.
Last week Brown won a Video Music Award and shared a public embrace and friendly kiss with his ex during the ceremony. While being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey recently, Rihanna shared details about her tumultuous relationship with Brown, and called him the "love of my life." She noted that they are now working to reconcile their friendship and remain "very close." Brown, it should be noted, is currently in a long and happy relationship with his girlfriend Karrueche Tran.
Yet despite Brown's continued popularity as a musician, some members of the media and the public haven't been as quick to offer Brown a second chance. Several allegedly homophobic remarks that have been attributed to Brown have either been apologized for immediately or have been proven to be completely false.
For the last three years Brown has quietly been involved with L.A.'s Jenesse Center Domestic Violence Intervention program, making an earnest effort to break the cycle of abuse. Earlier this summer Brown was a sponsor of the Change Youth Conversations event, which drew more than 200 teenagers in Los Angeles and a multitude of youth nationally to talk about dating violence and healthy relationships. Last week he visited the children at the center and even purchased school supplies for them. “It's in my heart to show my fans, my friends and family and the families at Jenesse who stood by me they were right to give me another chance," Brown said. "I'm working hard to make them proud.”
Program director Angela Parker released a statement saying, “There is no denying Mr. Brown's popularity and the impact that it has on our youth to see him be a part of this conversation. His participation really drives home the message that a person can choose to overcome their past hardships and to work towards a better future, not just for themselves, but for their loved ones and their community.”
Brown, who will begin a world tour in December, is in talks with a national domestic violence program to launch a public awareness campaign later this year.
Brown's rep insists that his new tattoo is not an intentional likeness of Rihanna or any sort of Scarlet Letter-type reminder of a painful incident in his past. Compare it to the image to below.