Alicia Keys vs. Fantasia Barrino

Both singers allegedly stepped out with a married man. All similarity ends there. Guess which one gets a pass and which one gets labeled with a scarlet letter -- and why.


Former American Idol winner and R&B singer Fantasia Barrino tried to kill herself. It is being reported that she took an overdose of aspirin and sleep medication in an effort to escape the media scrutiny related to her role in an alleged affair with Antwaun Cook, a married T-Mobile salesperson. Cook’s wife, Paula, filed for divorce, naming his affair with Barrino as a factor and alleging that the two had made multiple sex tapes. Barrino maintains that there are no sex tapes and that Cook was separated, so she did nothing wrong.

Media coverage of the suicide attempt has been interconnected with relentless documentation of the illicit affair, including the fact that Barrino had Cook’s name tattooed on her shoulder, which she later covered. Even in Charlotte, where I live when not in D.C., the media, which normally rarely cover the North Carolina native made good, have been fixated on the attempted suicide and tawdry details of the affair. I’m wondering: If they know that this type of scrutiny is what drove her to try to commit suicide, why would they continue badgering her in the press? But that’s another story.

What I found to be most interesting is that Alicia Keys has been able to escape this type of media scrutiny in the mainstream press, even though she reportedly was engaged in a three-year affair with a married man, which ultimately resulted in the demise of the marriage. Keys also became pregnant and engaged to super producer Swizz Beatz while the man was separated but still married nonetheless. She then married Beatz weeks after his divorce was finalized. The black press have let both Fantasia and Keys have it for their indiscretions, but the mainstream media took to the Fantasia story like a rabid dog while ignoring the illicit actions of Keys.

They painted Keys’ wedding as a fairy tale, even though she allegedly did what many women other than Angelina Jolie consider to be the unthinkable: steal another woman’s husband and get pregnant before the divorce is even final. Most women on the receiving end of that behavior would take the pregnancy as a great big open-handed slap to the face. Of course, we don’t know if Keys “stole” Beatz from his wife — no one knows what goes on in marriages — but it appears that she was romantically involved with someone who was married. Beatz’s wife, Mashonda, maintains that she was blindsided by the affair with Keys, who was even a guest at her baby shower.

I’m wondering why the mainstream media are so willing to let Keys off the hook for what many would call socially unacceptable behavior at best, and immoral behavior at worst, while taking Barrino to task for similar behavior.

Is it that Keys is too pretty to be pummeled?