Keke Palmer appears to be unbothered (as usual) after her boyfriend and the father of her child, Darius Daulton Jackson, criticized an outfit that she wore to Usher’s Las Vegas residency on social media.
Last night, she posted a series of photos on Instagram, flaunting the same black lace get up that Darius criticized. She made no mention of him in the caption, despite the pair becoming a trending topic on Twitter after he called her out earlier in the day when a video of Usher serenading her went viral. Darius retweeted the video, saying:
Social media users, confused over his tone, were divided over whether he was being sarcastic. But when he doubled down with a later tweet, reactions to his remarks flooded the internet.
While many people, mostly men like this Twitter user, supported him in his assertion that the outfit was inappropriate for a mother to be wearing, most were outraged by his views, which a few social media users labelled ‘misogynistic’ and wasted no time calling him out.
First, there were the people who grilled him over the irony of his expectations of tradition, and him citing himself as “the man of the family” and implying Keke fills the role of a “wife”, despite not proposing to her and putting a ring on her finger before, during or up to this point after her pregnancy.
They also reminded him that *she* is the breadwinner.
Then there were the people who suggested this wasn’t an issue about the outfit at all – and instead more about his insecurities over her being serenaded by Usher. People were quick to dig up old videos and photos that he recorded himself of her in outfits that were just as risqué as what she wore to the concert. They also pointed out the double standard that exists for what men and women can “show” on social media, highlighting a photo he shared appearing only in his boxers.
But my personal favourite was the group of social media users that quickly gathered him up about this 2020 tweet where he declared he “diverts” issues when he experiences insecurity, suggesting that was the reasoning behind his public display of disappointment.
I get it. Seeing your partner rub up on or be serenaded by anyone can be super uncomfortable. The fact that the person in this case was the king of R&B himself doesn’t help. All of this adds to just how much sense it makes that Darius may just be responding from a place of insecurity. After all, he is partnered with one of Hollywood’s largest personalities. Keke is a woman who can hold her own in every aspect. She has a higher net worth than he does, she is way more famous than him and she is drop dead gorgeous. It also doesn’t help that his brother is well-known from his role on the HBO show Insecure, meanwhile, many don’t know who he is or what he does, referring to him as “Keke Palmer’s baby daddy”.
Someone even temporarily adjusted her Wikipedia page urging her to leave him.
Clearly, there’s a lot at play here. What most people took issue with wasn’t actually the fact that he had an issue with her outfit choice. What seemed to be the most bothersome was that rather than address her privately, he publicly shamed her on Twitter and went as far as saying she was dressing that way to “please others”.
Second to that, the issue is that he had an issue at all. Tons of men and women defended Keke, reminding Darius of the work it can take to feel confident in your body after having a baby. To have that confidence met with a public bashing by the father of your child is just humiliating, but in this case, that humiliation is falling more on him than it does on her, largely because she’s Keke Palmer, baby.
Prior to this point, Keke and Darius have been incredibly private about their relationship. And just days ago, she made remarks about her preference to deal with relationship issues privately on her podcast.
“Whatever that we going through, we talking about that in the closet. I’m not discussing that,” she said in this clip. So it must be extra heartbreaking that he chose to air her out in this way. But given her lighthearted response, in which she didn’t address him or the hoopla, is she actually heartbroken over it?
This situation got me thinking about someone like Ice-T, who has repeatedly come to his wife Coco’s defense when she’s posted risqué photos. Most recently, she posted this racy photo on Instagram in celebration of the July 4th holiday. He trolled social media users who criticized her outfit and photo choice, telling them to “go do some sit ups” and asking why they continued to follow her if they had a problem with what she posted on social media.
Or perhaps someone like A$AP Rocky, who has been a mere accessory to the biggest pregnancy slay we’ve seen unfold in the universe up to this point. Rihanna has served some of the most iconic maternity looks we’ve ever seen. I can’t recall a time that he has been quoted as saying anything negative, shady or shameful to his girl – especially on social media.
Unfortunately, men like Ice-T and A$AP Rocky are rare, and you can see that based off of the support Darius received in the comment sections from men discussing “traditional wives” and “traditional women”. These men strike me as the type who, in all likelihood, spend a great deal of time listening to podcasts by people like Derrick Jaxn and the late Kevin Samuels.
But let’s get back to whether Keke is in fact heartbroken over this. Despite her ability to roll with the punches and keep it moving, there is a jarring awakening that comes with realizing that the person you’ve married or had a child with is not who they made themselves out to be. Walking away from a marriage or from the other parent of your child is not as simple as just leaving the person and never looking back. There are legalities involved. And in relationships where there is a child, you’re tied to that person forever.
There is such a loss of identity that can occur when you have a child. Your hormones are out of whack for so long even after you’ve had the baby. It’s so easy to lose the sense of autonomy over your body because its primary function becomes mothering. It can take a long time to feel like yourself again. So despite what Darius has to say, it’s actually very beautiful to see Keke taking up space in this way – and looking damn good doing it.
So yes, there is an aspect of this that is heartbreaking. And perhaps it hasn’t hit Keke just yet, but realizing that your number one supporter is only a supporter when you abide by his terms and conditions, which in this case, happen to align with a very misogynistic view of moms, is a crushing disappointment, no matter how good you are at laughing things off.
Lately, there’s been a huge push for women to “decenter men” in their lives and videos containing this subject matter are blowing up on TikTok. Essentially, women are being encouraged to live their lives according to their desires and not center any of what they do, wear, feel or think around what a man’s reaction to any given thing might be. TikTokers have been sharing content and diving deep into what it means to decenter men. And one Tiktoker in particular, @laidbyamani, has one piece of advice that would be especially useful for Keke.
Amani encourages her women followers to view themselves as single until they are married. Despite questions, concerns and pushback from followers about how counterintuitive this approach can be, she reminds them that men are not the prize and that women should not be out here searching, begging or auditioning for a ring. This same sentiment is also echoed by our favourite serial dater, Lori Harvey, whose views I wrote about here.
In terms of what’s next for Darius and Keke, it’s anyone’s guess. But the pair have unfollowed each other on Instagram as of late last night. My hope is that they sit down and have a brutally honest conversation about what their expectations of each other are now that they are parents. Carving out the path for their future and what that will look like is key to not having any more blowups like this.
But personally, if Darius can’t get his insecurities in order and find a better way to deal with what are likely the results of what he feels his shortcomings are, I hope Keke makes a run for it. Because insecure men tend to have a habit of finding a way to dim a woman’s light. And her light in particular is one that we know, need and love. Even if he doesn’t.