Jada’s ‘Entanglement’ Was About the Pursuit of Happiness
Black women perform devotion because of the odds stacked against us. Jada subverted it.
When Jada Pinkett Smith confessed to an affair with a 27-year-old musician, August Alsina, during a tell-all episode of her Facebook show, Red Table Talk, she laid bare the reality of her complicated marriage to actor Will Smith. In the candid, at times uncomfortable, 12-minute conversation, Will sat beside her and resolved to “love her through anything.” There was even that awkward toast to their “bad marriage.”
Many saw a cuckolded man and a selfish wife, as the slew of “entanglement” memes reveals. But I’d argue that the episode’s response reflects a larger turning point in the ways that Black women idealize and navigate romantic relationships. We are pursuing love while questioning the institution of marriage and taking control of our happiness, even if that means brazenly defying social norms.
Black women have never had the space to be “bad wives” — certainly not in public. It goes against the veneer of respectability and devotion that we are socialized to perform, having inherited a world that works hard to deny our innate lovability. Ten years ago, a married Black woman could never have shared the story of her entanglement with a younger, attractive man, especially not a woman who hit the so-called marriage jackpot. Jada is the beautiful, chosen wife of a wealthy, successful man in a world that still evaluates women according to the men to whom they are attached. A decade ago there would have been too much shame. She would have roasted for being ungrateful and pilloried to the point of no return.
This year is different.
Sure, there are jokes, mostly fired off by incredulous men, but there are even more women who low-key empathize. That’s not to glorify infidelity, or even overlook the potentially predatory nature of Jada’s relationship with Alsina. It is to say that there are women who identify with her willingness to find happiness, even at the expense of her respectability.
Black women have never had the space to be “bad wives” — certainly not in public. It goes against the veneer of…