The stories comedian D.L. Hughley shares about his life are equal parts, tragic, triumphant and cautionary tales for ways we should not live our lives. Just as a recap, there was the mistreatment from his mother. The love he was shown from a kind and prophetic teacher. The story of being sexually abused by a 20-year-old woman when he was 13—though he doesn’t see it that way. The story he shared about not believing his daughter was molested because it was inconvenient. And perhaps the most devastating, the death of a child he fathered outside of his marriage.
It’s been a helluva life. And as much as this is a post about Hughley and all that he’s experienced and overcome, this is more about how much his wife, LaDonna Hughley has endured stranding by his side. In addition to everything I mentioned above, which he no doubt brought into the marriage, there was also the issue of repeated, consistent infidelity. Infidelity that led to the child. We’ve shared that story before. But in a recent interview with Vlad Tv, Hughley shared an additional detail that made me appreciate Ms. LaDonna in a whole new way.
“Years later, the girl—it jammed her up too like it did me. She started asking for money. She needed some money. And I told her my wife would have to take care of it. Because I couldn’t—so she and my wife started talking and my wife started giving her money. The condition was that she could never ask me and my wife to take care of her, so my wife took it from my allowance that I’ve never gotten back. So I don’t know if she’s still giving it to her or not. But I know that I don’t get that money anymore. And I can’t go, ‘Are you still?..” I can’t do that.”
This woman has a heart of gold, you hear me?
The other day I wrote an essay about whether or not a man should take care of the mother of his children—even if the children have nothing to do with it. And I agreed that it is the noble thing to do. Still, in Hughley’s situation, it would have been easy for both him and his wife to turn their backs on this woman. After all, the child that connected them was gone. Still, it would have been a cruel and callous thing to do considering the mistress and Hughley created a life together. That woman raised their child on her own for however long he was on this earth. And, not for nothing, who knows what that child’s fate might have been if Hughley had been active and present in his life. That woman was owed something.
I don’t know if it was money or therapy or an apology but she deserved something. And in a perfect world, Hughley would have been the one to give it to her. instead, his wife stepped in to pick up the slack. His slack. His lack.
The whole scenario reminded me of the movie Fences. **If you haven’t seen the movie, you might want to skip to the next paragraph.** Like Hughley, Denzel’s character had a whole baby on his wife, played by Viola Davis. And when the child’s mother died, he brought the baby home for his wife to raise her.
I remember watching all of that unfold and sitting in the theater crying. It was so much more than a fictional story. Viola Davis raising another woman’s child reminded me of my great-grandmother—who literally had to welcome my great-grandfather’s child into her home. And it reminded me of my grandmother who encouraged my grandfather to send money to the children he’d fathered and left in Jamaica.
While we would be wrong to defend people who don’t look out for the wellbeing of children—no matter where they come from—these women, my relatives, Viola’s fictional character, and LaDonna Hughley are angels in the ways they’ve stepped in and picked up the pieces their husbands have left scattered behind them.
And on the one hand, while I want to commend their character, their sacrifices, their kindness, there’s also a part of me that is terribly sad that they’ve had to be the ones with higher moral standards in their relationships. The ones who had to atone for the actions of their husbands. I wonder did they operate like this because society had conditioned them to accept any type of behavior from a man? More than that, I wonder how their husbands would have behaved if these women had children with other men during the course of their marriage. Would they be the recipients of this same type of kindness? I’ve been taught that two wrongs don’t make a right. Still, I’m impatiently waiting for the day when we hear stories of men bending over backward, troubling themselves, extending kindness, swallowing hurt, pain and betrayal from the women who claim to love them.
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