Why Do We Care If Will and Jada Split?
Celebrities shouldn't affect our personal faith in love
When In Touch Weekly reported yesterday that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith had allegedly separated, the collective moans could be heard all across Afro America, from the shores of Chicago’s South Side to the hills of Washington DC (Howard U. is on a hill. Work with me here, people). To be fair, In Touch Weekly has erroneously reported on the never-happened marriage of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the false pregnancies and adoptions of Jennifer Anniston and many other celebrity rumors that have been proven false. It is and always shall be a tabloid. However, just the idea of a Will and Jada break up forces us to look at the reasons behind our attachment to the couple. People who have never, ever, ever meet the golden pair seemed as shocked and saddened at the news as they would be about the split of some folks from their real, actual lives.
The media (which is not some monster in the hills, but rather a living, breathing entity that is funded largely by hands that don’t have our best interests at heart and is also supported by us) rarely places Black couples in the spotlight. Will remarked himself that he is often paired with non-Black women in films because Hollywood seems to believe that audiences will disregard a film starring him with a Black leading lady as a “Black movie” (which is funny, because he had a Black woman in Independence Day and Enemy Of The State, but whatever). We don’t have many television shows these days (sorry, Single Ladies isn’t making anyone feel good about Black love) and most of our films are too wrought with shuck-n-jive or romantic tragedies to provide balanced examples of Black relationships.
Thus, we have this small handful of famous lovebirds that we love to highlight. The hierarchy of Important Black Couples goes something like this: Barack and Michele, Ozzie and Ruby, Cliff and Claire, Will and Jada, Jay-Z and Beyonce. Note that one of the top five are indeed a fictional couple from a TV show but we love as if they were real.
Many of us have shining examples of Black love in our communities and even our homes, but these folks belong to all of us. I don’t know your pastor and his lovely first lady, you don’t know my homegirl Raven’s parents who’ve been holding each other down since way back, but we all know Will and Jada of the multiple Essence covers, adorable children and seemingly solid bond.
The bond. Beyond simply being together for thirteen years and being famous, how absolutely in love did these two seem when they were spotted in public? Sure, they are actors, but if this entire romance was long since fractured or simply exaggerated for branding purposes…then both of them deserve Oscars (and for Jada, a pardon for the movie Woo). Who doesn’t feel inspired when they look at two people who appear to genuinely adore, desire, support and love one another? Few of us can ever attain the sort of professional success that the Smith family has, but we can certainly aspire to that level of connection.
If the Pinkett-Smith relationship inspired you before, don’t take a rumored break-up as evidence that Black love isn’t real or that no couple can make it. Let the problems be their personal business and try to remember the good times that we observed. Your story isn’t Will and Jada’s and, thus, it doesn’t have to end the same way.
PS: We’ll always have Cliff and Claire.