I don’t want to go hard on Chance the Rapper because he’s one of the good guys.
But his messy split from the mother of his 18-month-old daughter threatens to overshadow the positive vibes created by his $1 million donation to the Chicago Public Schools.
Chance, whose given name is Chancelor Bennett, is embroiled in a child-support fight in Cook County court, with new documents in the case filed this week.
When the rapper picked up three Grammys last month, I squealed like an avid fan.
Although I hadn’t heard a single lyric the 23-year-old penned, I was as proud as if I knew him personally.
In a way, I did.
There’s hardly a youngster, my own included, who grew up in the rap era who didn’t think he or she could rap. Rapping held out the same promise that the NBA did in the Jordan era.
If your rap lyrics stood out, you had reason to believe you could become rich and famous like Jay Z.
Besides, given the amount of bad news coming out of Chicago, it felt good to see a young black man from the South Side in the spotlight for something other than criminal behavior.
So while $1 million won’t make a dent in the $215 million deficit the Chicago Public Schools is facing, a lot of us were blown away by Chance’s grand gesture. It said, “This is the way you speak truth to power: You give back.”
Chance announced his donation at Westcott Elementary School, a few blocks from his childhood home.
“As a private citizen, as a parent and as a product of CPS, I’m asking that you guys join and fight with me,” he said during a press conference Monday.
Chance’s generosity drew a positive response from other entertainers, and even caught the eye of former first lady Michelle Obama, who tweeted: “Thanks for giving back to the Chicago community. . . . You are an example of the power of arts education.”
Unfortunately, Chance’s personal affairs are less storied. Court filings show he’s been supporting his daughter financially, but a long-term child-support agreement hasn’t been reached.
Last month, Kirsten Corley, the mother of Chance’s 18-month-old daughter, asked in court for temporary child support, as well as money to obtain and furnish a home. She also wants an automobile.
Corley, who is unemployed, maintains that she is the child’s primary caregiver.
“Kirsten is essentially being held hostage in Chancelor’s residence as, on one hand, he will not assist her with the support necessary to obtain her own residence unless this entire matter is resolved on his terms, yet on the other hand, Kirsten does not have knowledge of what specific objections Chancelor has to her counter proposal and therefore, it would be impossible to resolve,” states Corley’s child-support petition.
A major bone of contention appears to be Chance’s request for the court to set “a child support award below statutory guidelines.” Typically, child support for one child is about 20 percent of net income.
The rap star has asked the court to require that “both parties” contribute to the expenses incurred on behalf of the minor child.
Chance has also sought a protective order that would keep all internal financial, business and other documents and records secret. He argues that the disclosure of such records would potentially pose safety issues for him, the minor child and Corley.
In a filing Tuesday, Chance noted he has “one modest rental apartment where Kirsten and [his daughter] currently reside” and that “no one is ‘able to spend money without limits,’ including himself.” He also noted that he is “well able to pay permanent child support to Kirsten . . . and support the child in a lifestyle the child would have enjoyed had the parties remained in a relationship.”
People love gossip, and nothing’s juicier than the breakup of a celebrity couple. And there’s likely to be a lot of interest in this breakup for another reason.
Right now, Chance looks like a hero in the ‘hood.
But child support is an emotionally charged issue that plays a big role in the high level of poverty in the black community.
If this personal issue is handled callously in the public, Chance the Rapper’s clean-cut image could take a big hit.
After all, you can’t hand out money to benefit children you don’t know and come off looking like you are being stingy when it comes to your own child.