There's an unanswerable question my friends and I often entertain ourselves with whenever someone initiates a beef, clapback, or inappropriate reveal on social media: how did these people show up in real life before the convenience of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like. Were they the kids who started fights in the cafeteria? The teens who got on the phone and called everyone in their phonebooks from A to Z to spread gossip? Or were they the drama queens and kings who exaggerated the simplest of situations for attention? The answer is probably all of the above, because much like is said about any vice: they don't make you who you are, they simply expose who you are.
And the recent Keke Palmer vs her baby daddy nee' Darius Jackson debacle is providing no time like the present to talk about it. At this point, for anyone who follows the child actress turned multi-hyphenate media darling, you've been given a delightful front row seat to her glow up personally, professionally, and--most recently--physically, thanks to what Keke has declared as her "mom bod" credited to the birth of new son, Leodis Jackson. Simply put, Keke has been glowing inside and out--and her energy has been infectious and requested from her invitation to host Saturday Night Live (where she officially revealed her pregnancy) to her recent interview with Vice President Kamala Harris. In between these milestone moments, we got glimpses of her coupledom journey with beau Darius as well as their funny co-parenting adventures. We'd come to expect the funny Tik Tok videos and Instagram posts, and looked forward to what humorous yet insightful musings about life our "favorite lil' cousin" would drop.
What we didn't expect--and definitely not so soon--was the possible ending of their relationship thanks to a public display of disrespect. And deciding who disrespected who--and first--is what continues to be debated across entertainment blogs from The Shade Room to the Jasmine Brand and is even being reposted by such celebrities as comedian and commentator D.L. Hughley. Some would say Keke's revealing dress she wore to the recent Usher concert on a girl's trip to Las Vegas, where the R&B crooner serenaded her much to her delight, was the culprit. Others would say it was Darius' unexpected Twitter post highlighting and questioning her attire choices in light of her new title as "mother" and measured against "standards, morals, and traditions." And soon Keke would drop her own Tik Tok dancing and lip syncing the lyrics "if you 'gon act up, we gon' link up" in as a subliminal but very clear message to Darius. And without hesitation, and much less respect, almost everyone would offer an opinion or an insult to the quickly growing "injury." Yet, the only true victim I could identify in any of this after 48 hours of discourse was the Sanctity of Silence that continues to get grossly disregarded in this age of social media madness. Or more simply stated, keeping your business, your business.
To be fair, I can't chastise a man or woman when the actions of a loved one elicits emotions, be it insecurity, jealousy, or even sadness, that creates a level of discomfort or pain one may not have known they were capable of harboring. I also can't chastise a man or woman for choosing to celebrate him or herself how he or she so chooses even if others question when, where, or how that should be done. But what I can and will chastise is how many people use social media to navigate and process those feelings or use it as a distraction to properly confront those feelings. And in the end all that remains is an incitement of trauma and an elevation of drama for airing grievances to a million--or even 10--followers who don't truly know--or care--about you or your loved one. Yes, feelings are real, valid, and deserve to be acknowledged. But to quote Uncle George in the cult classic "ATL," you gotta know the difference between what's real and what you feel because they're often not the same and, more importantly, don't need to be shared with strangers.
Yes, there is a lot that couples are called to navigate, and the ups and downs in relationships are inevitable. And often times we are none the wiser of what goes on even in the unions of some of our closest friends and family nor are they privy to what goes on in ours. We rise, we fall, and we pray to rise again. Yet, the one thing that has often stood in the pathway of reconciliation when there is a breakdown in the relationship is the sting of public humiliation; a sting that can turn into a sore that can turn into a bruise that may never heal. And what took less than 200 Twitter characters to destroy may take a lifetime to repair IF you're lucky.
However, Keke and Darius is not the first couple nor will they be the last, unfortunately, whose woes will play out for all to see AND weigh in on. But I pray for the day when folks will begin to value each other enough to share their concerns, their pains, and their fears with their loved ones, one on one, and in a space where healthy communication, understanding, and growth can occur. The opinions of many can't help a situation, but it can certainly hurt it, and there's nothing the public can ever offer except biased judgment on subjective narratives that create nothing but even more confusion, doubt, and drama. As is often jokingly said on social media, "We want out of the group chat." In all seriousness, it's time for folks to put the high school antics behind and do the inner work that graduates them to a place of maturity both for themselves, their partners, and--in Keke and Darius' case--their child.
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