An Open Apology to Mary J. Blige

2018 may go down as the most successful year Mary J. Blige has ever had – career wise. The “Real Love” singer kicked off the year being honored with a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, which if you ask me was long overdue. Two months later she was nominated for TWO Oscar’s for Best Supporting Actress (Mudbound) and Best Original Song in 2018 (Mudbound), becoming the first person nominated for an Academy Award for acting and song in the same year. I must also mention that Blige has been nominated for 31 Grammy’s of which she has had the pleasure of taking home 9. On any given day she’s every Black woman hair and body goals, and BFF crush. While her singing voice may always be the focus of a heated debate at the family reunion every year, Blige has still captured the hearts of millions of fans proving there’s just something about Mary.

And while 2018 has blessed Mary with a plethora of highs, it came with its fair share of lows as well. Mary said it herself in her “Thick of It” song:

“What a hell of a year.┬áIf I make it through hell and I come out alive I got nothing to fear.”

After 12 years of marriage to husband Kendu Isaacs, Blige settled her divorce literally days before the Oscar’s. Isaacs was asking for $130,000 per month, which was denied (THANK GOD). However, Blige has to pay $30,000 a month to Kendu, which I have an extremely hard time wrapping my mind around. I understand spousal support. What I don’t understand is the fact that according to Blige, she was the sole bread winner their entire marriage. If I didn’t bring in a single solitary dollar, I’d gracefully take my $30,000 and get out of sight. And I must mention Isaacs spent $420,000 of Mary’s money on a woman he was having an affair with, according to court documents.

But this post isn’t about the demise of Mary’s marriage. It’s about our (her fans) inhumane habit of celebrating Mary’s losses in anticipation of her delivering some soul stirring, life-changing music for listening pleasure.

Think about it. How many times did you hear someone say “Mary J. Blige is going through a divorce, so you know her next album is gonna be good!” or something along those lines? I heard it PLENTY of times, but didn’t pay it no mind until I saw her eyes. Every time a new picture would surface of Mary at these monumental events she would be dripping with finesse from head-to-toe per usual, but her eyes told a different story. They seemed empty. Sad. I’ve never gone through a divorce and don’t plan to have to endure one, but I hear it has the ability to suck the life out of you. From woman to woman, my heart broke for Mary.

I sympathized for Mary even more when she announced that her expenses outweighed what she was paid for Mudbound and she’s in debt. Can you imagine being at the height of your career and unable to fully enjoy all it has to offer?

As an actress I make it my duty to check out new shows and especially support Black actors on the small screen. I’ve been absolutely LOVING The Last O.G. starring Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish. First of all Morgans comeback story is mind-blowing and proof that God ALWAYS has a plan. I found it ironic while I was stalling to write this post while watching The Last O.G., Haddish’s character Shay mentions to her daughter that Blige’s “breakup body” is goals. Here we go again. Why can’t her body alone be goals? Why does it have to be her breakup body?

As an artist I’m aware that some art is birthed from pain. One of my favorite Gwendolyn Brooks quote says “Art hurts. Art urges voyages – and it is easier to stay at home.” In my life I’ve found these words to be true. However, can we as consumers celebrate an artists’ art without celebrating their pain? Yes, we can.

Mary, I apologize for minimizing your pain in exchange for a hit record. Though a celebrity, you are human. I apologize.

Grace & Gratitude,

Tanikia

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