August Alsina has been away for a long time. One of the most promising RnB stars of the 2010s, he disappeared suddenly and seemingly without explanation. He recently reentered the spotlight with new music and a detailed explanation of where he’s been.
The discussions of his troubles have stirred sympathy amongst fans and followers, but there is one aspect of his story that rocked the general public the most; his years-long relationship with Jada Pinkett Smith.
This bombshell was met with a mixture of shock and wary acceptance. Rumours have been swirling around the Smiths’ supposedly open marriage for years. But this was the first time any of their rumoured lovers confirmed a dalliance publicly.
With all the information and assumptions floating around, Jada and Will decided to address it all head-on. At Jada’s now-iconic Red Table, one of Hollywood’s most beloved and well-known couples told their side of the story.
At the table, Jada discussed how she and Will had taken a break in their marriage, and the very real possibility of divorce that existed for them. During all of this, she met August Alsina through her son, and she became interested in healing him from the troubles that seemed to beset his life.
Later down the line though, they began dating.
Hearing this, many people online were dismayed. Will and Jada were the epitomai of a perfect couple. They have been idealized so much for over twenty years, the ‘Will and Jada’ love has entered popular lexicon.
Coming forward publicly, to discuss how nothing was perfect behind the scenes shattered people’s idea of what ‘black love’ should look like. It didn’t matter that glimpses of the cracks in their marriage had been there all along (Will and Jada’s newspaper debacle).
This time they were explicitly demonstrating what we all knew deep down but never wanted to admit: we do not know these people. We know their films, their interviews, their children, their industry friends, but that is not the same as knowing a person.
I was dismayed for another reason entirely. Jada was unhappy and unfulfilled in her marriage. She used that unhappiness to attempt to heal another person, which she is not equipped to do. Jada is an actress.
She is not a mental health counsellor, a life coach, a psychiatrist, or a therapist. Exactly what credentials did she have to attempt to heal another person other than herself? If we suspend common sense for this instance and address her as a healer then why did she cross the boundary of entering into a sexual affair with the person that she was purporting to help?
That is a clear ethical violation if there ever was one. To take someone under your wing and then engage in a sexual relationship with the said person is morally repugnant.
If we look at this situation with a critical eye, then we can see that a wealthy older woman engaging in an affair with a man twenty years her junior struggling with death, health issues, raising his sibling’s children, and drug addiction is in a vulnerable state.
None of these obvious pitfalls was discussed in The Red Table Talk with her husband, Will. She and Will despite the obvious difficulty and discomfort talking about her affair truly seem to be in a better place.
But Jada got to this ‘better place’ with her husband at the expense of someone else. Someone who was in a far more vulnerable place than she was. Her family has healed, but her family healed at the expense of someone else. And painting him as ‘a young man scorned’ gives Jada, in particular, the opportunity to evade accountability.
What Jada did is what a lot of older women who have felt stifled and silenced in their marriage do; she sought out a dynamic or relationship where the imbalance of power would favor her.
Jada could have had a relationship with a man on equal footing; wealthy, in her age group, and with sufficient status. She actively chose not to opt for such a man because she would have been in the same place that she was with WIll; restrained.
This is not a run of the mill affair. This is an example of an imbalance of power in relationships that mirror each other. August’s hurt, confusion, and anger stem from bringing all of himself to a relationship that was never really meant to benefit him in any real and impacting way.
For August, this is a life-defining moment. An important chapter in his story. For Jada? A mere entanglement. Jada used vulnerability and emotional intelligence to evade accountability.
That’s a masterclass none of us should learn.
By: Yoruba Mermaid