It was widely reported recently that Jay-Z had decided to stop using the word “b*tch” in his music following of the birth of his daughter. People near and far were ready to clap for him. Turns out that the news story was false as Jay-Z said he was doing no such thing, which is kind of like winning the battle but losing the war. Though I would have thought it was great if he had actually made that decision, it would have also been a damn shame for it to take the birth of his daughter to realize that saying, “I got that hot b*tch in my home” might be problematic when you’ve had the flyest chick in the game wearing your chain for years.
Look, I ain’t knocking any man’s hustle or self-improvement. Whatever gets you there, ya know? A long time ago, when I was tutoring at a charter school in Washington, DC, for disadvantaged youth, I had a conversation with one young man who told me he couldn’t wait to get to college because “that’s where the fine women were.”I started to correct him about the proper reasons to go to college then I realized, hey, if that’s what it takes for you to keep your grades up and get to college, then yes, Montavious, that’s EXACTLY where the fine women are. Misplaced focus? Sure. But if he ended up with a college degree because he was chasing pretty girls, then I’m all for it.
But it all comes down to motivation. And in Jay’s case I would have found it troubling because of an epiphany I had a few years ago before my daughter was born. I remember having a conversation with her mother about how I couldn’t wait to raise my queen and hug and kiss her and basically be the greatest pappy of all time. I was telling her that I anxious to be this great man for my daughter; a role model and shining beacon of what a man should look like.
It wasn’t until much later that I said to myself, “Panama, what an inconsiderate f*ck you are. You spent all this time telling your unborn child’s mother how great a man you were going to be to this child, but you kind of suck in myriad areas to the woman responsible for bringing her into the world. Not only that, you have OUTLINED what a great man you are going to be while she’s looking at you wondering why she couldn’t get what you obviously know you can give.”
Granted, my realization came well after our relationship ended but I still made it a point to be that man to my daughter. And that’s just…sad. And I do feel guilt about that on occasion. All of the affection and attention that her mother sought (and deserved) was easy for me to adorn on my daughter. Perhaps the relationship wouldn’t have ended had I been able to be as good a man as I am a father. You live, you learn.
And because of my own epiphany I would have wondered how Beyoncé felt about Jay’s transformation? What if being married to her wasn’t enough to bring about any particular revelation, but now that Blue Ivy Carter was in the picture, Jay’s perspective would have been different? And that’s…sad.
True enough, becoming a father to a little girl makes everything different. The world just looks better (and scarier, but that’s another talk show). Grass is greener. The sky is bluer. It’s exciting. Hell, I carried around a pair of my (then unborn) daughter’s pants with me to work every single day imagined my little baby girl running around in them because I was so excited and it made me feel great. I wonder how her mother felt about that. I wouldn’t know; I never asked and never even thought to ask. And that’s…sad.
I was talking to a friend of mine once about her pregnancy and asked her if she wanted a girl or a boy. She quickly said she wanted a boy because she didn’t want to compete for her husband’s affections and end up jealous of a child. In her eyes, she felt like this little girl would steal all of the attention, affection, and good will that she was getting because her daughter would become the queen bee.
It turns out that she was on to something. As men, we tend to view our little girls differently than we view the mothers who will guide their lives and there is something innately wrong with that. We’re more than willing to maintain the emotionally void status quo with our women while awkwardly tapping into the vulnerable core we never learned how to express for our daughters (and sons for that matter). Motivation is an odd thing.
Far too many Black women yearn for constant affirmation and attention from their men, regardless of how “good” these women are, this care seems to evade them. Yet many of them can watch their partners/ex-partners and their daughters play on the living room floor and view front and center what the love they want from a man looks like. And that’s…sad.
Panama Jackson is a co-founder of the award-winning blog VerySmartBrothas.com and co-author of Your Degrees Won't Keep You Warm Ar Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime. He likes Kool-Aid, bad Black movies, and really long book titles.