Trainwreck: Fantasia Barrino

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The new rumor? That’s she’s now three months pregnant with Antwaun Cook’s child. The Enquirer is running hard with this one. The other biggies, like TMZ and Radar Online haven’t yet checked it out–yet. If it is true, it might be yet another nail in the coffin for Barrino’s career. So far there is a lot of smoke, but no fire.

For a rundown of what may have occurred, I refer you to Celebitchy:

So… here’s everything that has happened in the past month: Paula Cook filed for divorce from Antwaun Cook, publicly naming Fantasia as “the other woman” and detailing Antwaun and Fantasia’s affair, which has been going on for more than a year. Fantasia comes out and (through her batsh-t crazy manager) denies Paula’s accusations. Fantasia then overdoses on aspirin and sleeping pills, making sure that her manager is right downstairs to save her when she texts him to say goodbye. Tasia is then hospitalized for a few days, then immediately after leaving the hospital she meets with Antwaun and her manager releases another statement where Tasia cops to the affair, but basically says it’s cool because Jesus forgives her. Tasia then goes on a post-suicide attempt promotional tour and resumes filming on her reality show.

A real soap opera.

Some have asked, if she had overdosed on aspirin and sleeping pills, wouldn’t that have affected the child she’s supposedly carrying? (Some think that her stomach would have been pumped in time before the lethal combo hit her bloodstream.) Other observers think that Barrino paid scant attention to the ramifications of what her daughter, nine-year-old Zion, would have felt had she had succeeded in taking her own life.

Fact is, we don’t know (at this writing), whether Barrino is truly pregnant. Until this is confirmed it is mere speculation. And yes, if someone wants to go into the Next World, they will leave their children behind, even if they love them, to end the pain. And they will destroy any life stirring in them in the pursuit of ending their lives. There are still women who commit suicide if they find that they are pregnant.

Unlike her mother Diane, her father Joe doesn’t seem to have been a refuge to whom she could turn. Both parents were singing, traveling evangelists. When Barrino was raped, Joe Barrino was less than supportive or comforting.

[Diane] Barrino explains, “He said, ‘If you wouldn’t have been running around with those little dresses on it would have never happened.’ That was the last thing I wanted to hear him say.”

Joe Barrino even agreed to be interviewed for the documentary and stated, “I’m not putting the blame on her but when you’re dressing like that, you’re saying, ‘Hey, there’s a party over here.'”

The singer eventually dropped out of school over the rape scandal: “It got out… I was hearing things in the hallways. They were saying, ‘I’m gonna do you the same way he did you,’ and that for me was it… I figured the best way to handle this was to never go back.”

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The rapist betrayed her; then her school and her father and perhaps even her neighborhood with what is called secondary victimization. Rape doesn’t begin with a woman wearing the “wrong” clothing, either. After several years of hard-partying and promiscuity–she thought that she was grown and didn’t need any advice–Barrino became pregnant and chose to raise her daughter alone. (I don’t know whether her parents forced her to have the child, or whether she continued the pregnancy in response to her own inner values.)

And Antwaun Cook certainly didn’t think of the ramifications on his two sons, or his wife, Paula, when he embarked on the affair with Fantasia Barrino. I blame him more than Barrino. I mean, why should she get all the blame? I think that he lied to Barrino that he was separated from Paula. Too besotted with the man to see reason and investigate the true state of affairs to self-protect, she readily believed him. Bossip confirms this for me:

Cook graduated from East Carolina University (where he played football) with a business degree. He’s a member of Kappa Alpha Psi whose eight year career in telecommunications includes managing the Charlotte, N.C., T-Mobile store where he met Fantasia. Cook describes himself as “extremely motivated” on his LinkedIn profile. Just this August Cook also joined Keller Williams Realty, on the company website he claims he pursued his real estate license in 2006 so he could “share the knowledge from my own ‘good’ and ‘interesting’ experiences in the homebuying and selling process.”

Of course none of that explains exactly what it was about Cook that made Fantasia believe — as her manager put it — that he and his wife “separated in the late summer of 2009.” But considering that Fantasia said the man was separated back in January, when she spoke to PEOPLE about their relationship and dismissed claims he was cheating on his wife with her, it sounds like Antwaun is a pretty convincing guy. Or maybe she just didn’t want to be convinced otherwise.

He’s a regular guy, as Barrino described him. That’s what she liked about him. Antwaun may not be in the music business, but he’s ambitious as hell. Creeping would be in his arsenal for upward mobility. He probably saw a pot of gold in any connection with Barrino. Barrino, on the other hand, despite all her drive and ambition, admitted that she was functionally illiterate in 2005, could not even read or understand the contracts she signed. This June, Fantasia Barrino completed the qualifications to receive a GED from St. Andrews High School–her former high school. She was allowed to march along with the graduation class of 2010. This must have been a wonderful moment for her.

I think that like some heterosexual black women who know that they have few options to find available black men as husbands, that Barrino wanted black male companionship at any price. She wanted someone to love her, have fun with her, understand her, and take care of her in that old-fashioned way. Nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you want. As time went on, Antwaun Cook appeared to fill the bill.

And Barrino has been working and working hard to work off her debts. She’s been hustling. She has been trying to find work, to continue to make albums, and to keep her name out there in the entertainment industry since AI. She’s had to deal with crooked managers and throat tumors. She reportedly supports not only her daughter but her whole family. She does this knowing that few of the AI singers have continued as viable acts. She’s already lost one house through foreclosure. The loneliness of her position had left her wide open.

To get back to what I aired before, I doubt whether Fantasia received very much rape counseling or has been under the care of a psychologist since her rape at 14. Most rape victims thereafter have recurring problems with self-image, with self-worth, with boundaries, with sex, with depression, and with self-blame. They are sometimes suicidal under pressure and stress.

Some are thinking that the suicide attempt was to manipulate Antwaun into marriage. This is what unnamed sources told the Enquirer, but according to the L.A. Times, a more credible source, they haven’t seen each other since August 13. Others think that the attempt was a marketing ploy to help boost the sales of her new CD. Cynicism is not dead, however, I don’t believe her management team would invite such attention; it would have immediately backfired.

No, I think that Barrino did attempt suicide. I think the woman was so upset that at first she was in a state of shock at the news of Antwaun’s duplicity and Paula’s lawsuit. According to the L.A. Times, within hours after her lawyer informed her of the lawsuit, she actually zoned out: she saw mouths moving with no sound coming out. She saw everything that she had worked for collapse before her eyes, both personal and financial. Her first impulse was that she wanted to escape out of this world. It was too much for her to bear. She’s still here, though, and must face the consequences of what she has wrought. And it won’t get better any time soon.

Bossip.com was repeating a story from Radar Online last week that Oprah was planning to interview Paula Cook in the last year of her daytime show. Mo’Nique has also asked Cook to come on her show. Of both offers, Cook was said to be thinking about it.

But the possibility of this kind of national slut-shaming must be preying on Barrino. It also means that she may be on the outs with Oprah, who with other investors bankrolled The Color Purple on Broadway several years ago. Barrino had missed nearly 60 performances in her contract. If Oprah is considering this, this may be her way of getting back at Barrino, even though the singer did appear on Oprah’s show in February to explain her absences during the run of the show. Barrino wasn’t being a diva after all, she was already pushed beyond endurance by the other producers. No, I don’t think Oprah, the queen of talk, would stoop that low to get ratings. It would be piling on. I think that this story is wrong.

Mo’Nique, however, is another issue entirely. However, Mo’Nique, in some of her interviews, has admitted that she’s allowed her husband to creep, although she claims that she has never had extramarital affairs.

A source told RadarOnline.com: “Paula has been approached by Oprah’s people to go on her chat show. She still hasn’t decided what she will do though, and she was also approached by Mo’Nique too.

“There was also the chance for her to appear on a new reality show about spurned women, and she’s considering another option to write a book about the whole Fantasia saga.

“At the moment she is weighing up all these offers and is just taking time out to look after her sons.

“She has been allowing Antwaun to spend time with the boys although she is becoming more resigned to the fact that their marriage is definitely over now.

I have a feeling that all this was not exactly what Barrino wanted when she joined the American Idol competition. She wanted to be rich and famous, like her first cousins who were members of the Eighties group, Jodeci, but not notorious or broke. And broke she may be if educator Paula Cook sues her to the nth degree for what is popularly known as alienation of affection. Despite what Nolo claims, North Carolina still recognizes and enforces such homewrecker laws.

Something nags at me that Cook may have done this to really scare Barrino into letting her husband go, but I haven’t been able to confirm this suspicion. I also think Paula Cook shouldn’t give way to vengefulness, and go on these talk shows and reveal the state of her marriage to the whole country. Class will tell. Plus, it sounds way too tawdry. A decision like that may backfire on her and affect her case. Better that Cook save up everything for court, and talk later after the divorce is finalized.

Finally, Jenice Armstrong of the Philadelphia Daily News urges that everyone stop gloating over the woman’s misfortunes and give Fantasia Barrino a little break.

Many a woman has fallen for the old okey-dokey from a guy about his being separated, as Barrino apparently did, only to discover later that the man they thought was on his way to becoming single again was still very much married.

Once she found out about his wife, Barrino should have cut things off, if not out of respect for T. Mobile salesman Antwaun Cook’s family, then for herself, and because it would have been the decent thing to do. Regardless of what complaints Cook may have had about his marriage, he should have been off-limits.

Laura Trice in HuffPo says almost the exact same thing. And even more.

Back to Armstrong.

But I’m not for piling on Barrino.

The game she’s playing is a dirty one, but one that numerous other female celebrities get away with. Angelina Jolie, Alicia Keys and Gabrielle Union can be photographed on the arms of their married lovers, but when Barrino clumsily tried to play the same game with Cook, she was treated differently. TheRoot.com was the first to raise the question as to why this is and theorized that it may come down to looks. Nsenga Burton wrote that she thinks that Keys’ attractiveness may have allowed her a pass that wasn’t afforded to Barrino. (Keys, who’s pregnant, recently married her now-divorced boyfriend, Swizz Beatz.)

I’m not a big fan of Barrino’s music. I interviewed her once when it became public that she had trouble reading.

I think of her as another one of these lost souls floundering around Tinsel Town – like actresses Lindsay Lohan and Maia Campbell, and Laurence Fishburne’s daughter Montana, who recently made her debut as a porn star.

I am not talking about Barrino because I am a fan. I am not. This episode brings up issues that black folks need to be talking about. I tend to agree with some of Burton’s points about Keys getting a pass. However, Barrino may not yet be one of those lost souls that Armstrong talks about. And Barrino’s dark, more African looks cannot be completely blamed. I also think class is involved. She’s a young, poorly-educated black woman from the sticks who is more a self-made woman than Keys ever was.

I think Keys has a good publicist who helped to turn her affair into some kind of love story. I frankly don’t think that the Keys-Beatz marriage is going to succeed. Beatz was in hock financially, especially to the Feds; I’m sure Keys is paying them off. And it’s no secret that his ex was paid off to go away by Keys, who now has a daddy to their baby. If Barrino wants to marry Antwaun, she may have to pay off Paula Cook.

But can she afford it? Is it worth it? Does Barrino seriously think that a succeeding marriage to Antwaun would work? It never does. I hope that she knows this. I hope that she is not that blind. I hope that she has said goodbye to him for good. If Antwaun cheated with her, he will eventually cheat with someone else, and eventually leave her, too.

Fantasia Barrino has had to go back to work, or else.

[…I]n her interview, she had explained why she returned to work so quickly, especially to face the media.

“They wanted me to be in [group therapy] much longer, but I realized that the record company and everybody was depending on me, and I had to come back,” she said. “I had an album coming out. They started saying they were going to push it back again, but they’ve already pushed it four times. So I decided to pull myself together. And I couldn’t afford to stay out, to be honest with you. I’m just now fighting my way out of coming out of all this debt. So I had to pick myself up and take baby steps every day.”

What she really needs is care. Care and therapy. A time out. This ain’t over yet, but I’m afraid that she just might crack up under the strain.

Don’t laugh at her. Pray for her.

~ by blksista on August 31, 2010.

4 Responses to “Trainwreck: Fantasia Barrino”

  1. I’d have to agree with both comments above, there are always consequences for the choices we make. It seems to me she need healthier people and a better support system in her life. Having a father turn coat on his daughter publicly like that kinds sums up what her example of a man looked like. Nothing changes if nothing changes, fame and fortune seems to fill the voids temporarily?? The one comment though that I haven’t seen mentioned in this is how this man played both women and he’s barely being outed for that. He was a married man and father who destroyed his family.

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    • He’s the skunk in this whole thing, and he’s being allowed to slide. Then Barrino gets all the bad press and is slut-shamed. I’m sure some guys are thinking, playa, and giving each other knowing glances.

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  2. Wow! I think the whole situation needs prayer. Life can be difficult at times. It comes down to the choices that we make along this journey; we have to choose wisely.

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    • Thing is, how can we learn to choose wisely?

      She has all these contractual obligations; she cannot necessarily rest and take stock. It reminds me a little of Judy Garland, who was in debt beyond her death.

      Sometimes we have to be careful what we wish for. But the Universe never gives us what we cannot eventually handle.

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