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Real Talk: Why Are We So Invested in Will and Jada?

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Will Jada
Yesterday. What a day, huh? I don’t know what had people more shook -- the East Coast earthquake or the tabloid rumors that Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith were headed for divorce. 
 
Luckily, the quake may have rattled folks’ nerves and evacuated a few buildings, but there wasn’t much damage. And perhaps more important for some, our favorite Hollywood couple is still solid… as a rock. (RIP Nick Ashford).
 
But Lord, did people react, especially to the Smiths, even jokingly trying to blame the earthquake for their alleged breakup. When an email hit the ESSENCE offices announcing the pair was no more, there was a collective gasp, followed by pained squeals.
 
“Tell me Abraham and Sarah didn’t make it!” said one anguished staffer, getting all Biblical. “But Will and Jada?! NOOOOO!“
 
Jada’s publicist avoided addressing the rumors that morning, which unintentionally fueled speculation. By mid-afternoon, Will’s oldest son, Trey, had taken to Twitter to debunk the rumor. “Did #WillandJada split? No they did NOT split. False information….” he tweeted.
 
Still, the rumor spread like wildfire. By the end of the East Coast work day, the Smiths finally released a joint statement: “Although we are reluctant to respond to these types of press reports, the rumors circulating about our relationship are completely false, the couple told People magazine. “We are still together and our marriage is intact.”
 
A collective sigh of relief was felt across the blogosphere.
 
“WOOOOOO HOOOOOOO!,” one of you wrote in response to an ESSENCE.com story confirming that Black Barbie and Ken were still together after 13 years. “I (and the entire Black community) am so relieved... Will and Jada, you are the poster children for Black love. And we LOVE you for that. You are the evidence of hope.”
 
Really?
 
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Jada and Will, and I’m happy the rumors of their separation are just that. I enjoy the Smiths’ fervent, can’t-wait-to-get-you-home looks that rival the Obamas, and the way they gush about their relationship like they're teenagers with their first crushes. I loved their on-screen chemistry in "Ali" and their off-screen chemistry when they show up, consistently together (cutie-pie kids in tow), almost anywhere. (Remember the Nobel Peace Prize photos?) They’re an on-display Black power couple! Our generation’s Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

But I’m disturbed that for some, they’re the last, or only, shining example of what Black love is now. Despite all the news reports of Black marriages in jeopardy, Black love exists and endures. Fifty-eight percent of Black women are married, and by the time Black women reach thirty-five, 75 percent will have said, “I do” at least once, most alongside a Black man.
 
The Smiths are a highly visible example of Black marriage working well, but theirs is far from the only one. It’s great to see them shine, but recognize that Black marriages still do that even when Hollywood’s bright lights aren’t on them.
 
Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. She has recently been nominated for an African American Literary Award. Vote for her now on literaryawardshow.com
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