Brian McKnight was trending on Twitter this week after he was called out by fans over his social media posts. 

Internet sleuths dug up old posts of his that display a clear pattern of proudly celebrating his non-Black stepchildren on Instagram while failing to publicly acknowledge his own Black and bi-racial biological kids, Briana, Brian Jr., Niko and Clyde.


“Proudly celebrating” is an understatement. At this point, it looks like he’s shading and trolling his biological family. His Instagram account is full of posts of him parading his love for his new wife, Leilani, whom he married in 2018, and her children, as well as the son they share, whom he also named Brian, despite already having an adult son as his namesake.

There were a number of men who were quick to come to Brian’s defence, suggesting he just wanted all of his sons to have his name. Even if that were the case, though, it’s not so much about the name as it is the acknowledgment for his biological kids. And there isn’t any. Not in his Instagram bio where he has a full list of his stepchildren and wife, and not in any interviews he’s done in the last few years.


Sleuths also dug up more damning evidence of Brian’s fatherhood fail in a series of posts. First, there’s this one, which says he “couldn’t ask for a better daughter” than his stepdaughter. 

Then, there’s this post, which suggests the people in the photograph constitute his “entire” family, despite every single one of his biological children being absent from the photos. 


There’s this highlight reel where he says his stepdaughter’s graduation was one of the “proudest dad moments” of his life. Sadly, the list goes on. All these captions seem like a clear shot at his kids. But why?

According to his response to accusations of him being a deadbeat, which he posted a few days ago, the relationship between him and his kids turned sour after he cut them off financially. He describes once having a great relationship with them, never once missing a child support payment, and even purchasing apartments for his adult sons. He claims that now, though, he no longer has relationships with them, citing their entitlement and lack of gratitude for how he’s helped them over the years. 

Truthfully, a lot of what he’s saying in the video sounds convincing. He delivers his message calmly and eloquently. But so do true, diabolical, articulate narcissists. And if it weren’t for the fact that he went ahead and purchased a brand new luxury vehicle for his stepdaughter after suggesting that his own kids felt too entitled, I’d be tempted to take his side on the issue. 

Sleuths also found out that his biological daughter, Briana, and stepdaughter both attend the same college. And that he goes to visit his stepdaughter at that campus, never paying a visit to Briana. Again – why?


Back in 2019, Briana launched a defamation suit against her dad over a video he posted to his social media in which he falsely accused her of having sex with an older relative, according to these public court documents. His request to dismiss it was denied and they ultimately reached a settlement – which fans and speculators say is a huge blow for Brian’s plea for sympathy and understanding amid this severe family drama.

As someone who grew up in a blended family in which my dad parented two girls that were not biologically his, I know firsthand how crucial step-parents can be. And I commend men and women who step-parent. I did it briefly and can testify that it’s not easy. But I’ve always believed the onus is on the parent to ensure the transition of introducing a step-parent and step-siblings is as smooth as possible. 

Of course, there are so many factors that can interrupt this and it’s very nuanced. I also fully support him if what he’s saying about his kids being entitled and ungrateful is true. Parents have every right to put their foot down when they act like entitled pricks. But this is way more than not talking to your kids anymore because they’re entitled. This is deliberate, it's public, it’s spiteful and it’s sad.


You’ll notice one of the very first things I mentioned in this article was race – because it matters. In addition to growing up in a blended family, I grew up in a family that was very multi-racial. I’ve written before about the messaging I got through my dad’s remarks about my hair quality and texture, often comparing it to my sisters, who both had different moms. Distancing yourself from your Blackness through your partner and children is one of the biggest forms of self-hate and erasure you can express. 

It's very plausible that Brian, when he moved on from Julie, the Black woman he was married to for 12 years, found a genuine love with Leilani. No one is doubting that their love is true. But what is so unfortunate is that given the drama, there are questions about his intentions, and whether his very outward affection for his new family is simply to spite his biological kids and their mothers. 

Comments on his social media posts suggest a lot of fans are displeased with these revelations. Some fans are expressing their disappointment by letting him know that he’s “lost a lifelong fan” and letting them know they “won’t be attending any more” of his shows and concerts. 

Some may call this another example of cancel culture. But the way cancel culture functions in this instance is really more about accountability than cancellation. It’s about demanding more from this father for his children, and calling him out on behaviour that by all measures, is truly unacceptable.