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2023 Atlanta Film Festival - "Big Boss" Closing Night Screening

(L-R) Keke Palmer, Leo Jackson, and Darius Jackson attend the “Big Boss” Closing Night Screening during the 2023 Atlanta Film Festival at Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University on April 29, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia. | Source: Derek White / Getty

Normally, I just really don’t care about celebrity gossip, and, particularly, debates about celebrity couples. Whether it’s Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Will and Jada, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky, or whatever white celebrity couple I probably didn’t know was a couple, my attitude can usually be summed up in one sentence: Y’all don’t even know them people!

But sometimes, the viral discussion revolving around two famous people (or one famous person and their significant other, in this case) turns into a relevant discussion worth having because of the social implications that go far beyond the celebrities that prompted it. For example, the split up between Lori Harvey and Michael B. Jordan wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting as it was if the discussion around it on social media hadn’t devolved into a debate about whether a woman in her mid-20s should have been happy to find a good man and settled rather than continuing to live her best young and single life. Eventually, the conversation was no longer just about Lori and Michael, it was about the agency of young Black women vs. the incel-ustrious “nice guy” narrative.

MORE: Meet Darius Jackson, Keke Palmer’s Judgmental, Social Media-Deleting Boyfriend

Similarly, the discussion around Keke Palmer and the father of her child, Darius Jackson, has become a debate between respectability politics-adhering traditionalists and free Black women.

As you’ve heard by now, Jackson recently got deep in his feelings in response to Palmer wearing a somewhat revealing outfit in Las Vegas while being serenaded by Usher.

“It’s the outfit tho…you a mom,” Jackson wrote before, apparently, deleting his entire social media life after getting dragged by Black Twitter for being a social media opp and publicly shaming his girlfriend and mother of his son.

At one point, Jackson doubled down on his virtual temper tantrum.

“We live in a generation where the man of the family doesn’t want the wife and mother to his kids to showcase booty cheeks to please others, and he gets told how much of a hater he is,” he wrote. “This is my family and my representation. I have standards and morals to what I believe. I rest my case.”

So, first of all, women don’t forfeit their bodily autonomy once they become mothers. And fathers don’t have fatherhood thrown in their faces just for publicly enjoying themselves while being moderately risqué. (I say “moderately” because in my opinion, Palmer really didn’t do anything all that provocative. I mean sure, her cheeks were certainly cheeking, but other than that, the outfit wasn’t all that revealing, especially for something being worn in Las Vegas during the height of summer. And it’s not like Usher had her in a dark corner touching all over her fun parts. He sang to her on a well-lit stage, they hugged and danced a little, and that was pretty much it.)

And if you think me and others are wrong about fathers not being shamed the same way, how many posts have you seen about this that note Usher is also a father? How many times do you hear about fathers (celebrity or otherwise) in strip clubs compared to how often strippers with children are shamed?

That being said, Jackson isn’t necessarily wrong for feeling a way about Palmer’s behavior, but he’s absolutely wrong for immediately airing out his grievance on social media—especially considering his girlfriend’s celebrity—instead of talking to Palmer directly and in the confines of their home. Some have argued that Palmer embarrassed him publicly and that turnabout is fair play, but, in reality, this whole thing wouldn’t have been on anyone’s radar if Jackson hadn’t single-handedly turned it into a viral topic. In short: He embarrassed himself and probably Palmer—but mostly himself.

I mean, what did Jackson think was going to come of this? Did he not expect to be compared to Tom Dubois from The Boondocks once everyone remembered that Aaron McGruder basically predicted an insecure light-skinned dude who made a public spectacle out of himself because he was scared to death Usher was going to have sexual relations with his “wife?”

Notice I put “wife” in quotation marks because, as many on social media have mentioned, Jackson is not Palmer’s husband. Some people will argue that fact alone leaves Jackson without a leg to stand on. I don’t necessarily agree with that—or at least I wouldn’t if Jackson hadn’t declared in his follow-up post that “we live in a generation where the man of the family doesn’t want the wife” dressing however she wants due to his “standards and morals.”

Besides the fact that Jackson has not married the mother of his child and is not the breadwinner of his household, only in the current “generation” he’s pretending to denounce do people get messy and air their relationship grievances on social media as opposed to having a private conversation with their significant others. If Jackson is saying he’s a traditional man, it’s clear he’s only being selectively traditional.

More to the point, there are not enough people asking if Palmer has ever promised Jackson to change her sophisticated-but-also-kinda-ratchet ways upon motherhood.

Because Keke has been Keke for a long time, and certainly was who she was before she started dating Darius.

This is Keke Palmer:

Also Keke Palmer:

Palmer, Keke:

Keke of House Palmer:

Hell, just for good measure, here’s a video of Palmer twerking that was first posted by*checks notes*—Darius Jackson.

And by “Darius Jackson,” I mean, the guy who posted a selfie online while wearing nothing but his drawers. (Sir, you’re a father!)

It’s interesting the way women, especially Black women, are told to “choose better” after they’ve been with abusive, unfaithful or otherwise lousy men, but when men who want a modest woman choose a woman who is not known for her modesty, it’s still the woman (wife, mother or otherwise) who is expected to adjust to her traditional man’s expectations.

It’s worth noting that Palmer hasn’t publicly responded to her boyfriend’s outburst, so there’s really no telling how she even feels about it. But, again, it really isn’t only about her and Jackson anymore. When it comes down to it, we’ve all become the subject of this story. It’s about our attitudes towards women and the feelings of men. It’s about patriarchy and misogynoir. It’s about empowerment and respectability. It’s about minding the business that pays you and a Black woman’s right to be free.

This isn’t just celebrity gossip, it’s a reflection of who we are. And that’s always worth talking about.


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