The Curious Case of Lupe Fiasco

Pretty much.

Black Millennials

When rap mogul Jay Z called Lupe Fiasco “a breath of fresh air,” I couldn’t agree more. The year was 2006 when he released Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor. The transition of hip hop as a lyrical haven to a pop culture fixture, was well underway. Gone were the days when stellar rap music was measured by lyrical content and impassioned delivery. Now, the “best” rap songs were weighted on catchy beats and concise hooks and choruses, so as to be repeated easily. Rap was no longer a labor of love, it was a corporate chop-shop.

Lupe entered the mainstream as hip hop was changing from a lyrical exercise to a constant headbanger. At the time, I was proud of Lupe. As hip hop crippled with every Yung Something, Lupe stood strong. His spirit, bold. His content, deep. His musical prowess laid unchallenged in a wave of one-liners. The…

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A Colored Girl Considering Womanism When Feminism Doesn’t Seem To Be Enough

feminist womanist black

(This isn’t every Black woman’s story; this is my story)

So I have this thing.  Whenever someone is talking to me about a subject that requires a bit of thought, I’ll always think of a particular song lyric that applies to the question as I’m thinking of an answer.  For instance, let’s say somebody asks me, “Are you a feminist?”  While searching the brain for a statement, I think of Mya:

I’mmmm so confused/I don’t know what to dooooooo

No matter if I knew the person was going to ask or not, I’m always confused whenever this question is asked.  I’m not confused in the sense that I don’t have an answer.  I have one, but it is not as direct or simple as the question.

Growing up watching countless hours of television, switching channels from BET, MTV, and VH1 (this was the 90s before they became the holy ratchet television trinity), I had only understood feminism to be three things:  White, angry, and mostly gay.  I watched scores of White women on a field wearing sundresses and combat boots holding hands with other White women wearing buzz cuts and flannel shirts, all swaying to the spellbinding sounds of the Indigo Girls, k.d. lang, and Melissa Etheridge at Lilith Fair.  In the basement far from the watch of my mother or my grandparents, I listened as Meredith Brooks told the world how she was a bitch, a lover, a child, and a mother.  News reports showed hundreds of White college coed girls taking to their campuses with megaphones, candles, and makeshift signs in an effort to “take back the night.”  All these sounds and images were bonded together in my pre-adolescent understanding by one word: feminism.  From hearing that word tossed around at interviews and news reports of the aforementioned events, I developed an associative understanding of feminism.  But based on how I rarely saw similar faces in these spaces that looked like mine, I didn’t think that feminism was a “thing” for a little black girl like me.  Sure, every once in a while I would catch a glimpse of artists like Tracy Chapman or Meshell Ndegeocello on MTV or VH1, but I was more in awe of their blackness on a predominately White music network than their feminism.  It would not be until my sophomore year of college where my mind would change…sort of.

As she had pretty much done for my entire life, my aunt gave me a book as part of the plethora of Christmas gifts she gave me each year.  The Christmas that I was in the 10th grade, I received Kevin Powell’s Step Into A World anthology.  I skimmed through the book a time or two, but hadn’t really read it until I was in my dorm room one boring snowy Saturday.  With a glass full of apple juice and a large bag of M&Ms, cracked open the book to give my eyes something to do besides look at nothing on television.  Flipping through the writings of Robin D.G. Kelly, Imani Tolliver, Ras Baraka, and dream hampton, I happened upon an essay by a writer named Joan Morgan.  In about 5 pages, I was introduced to a concept called hip-hop feminism.  When reflecting on the treatment of women during the Million Man March with Farrakhan banishing us from the National Mall to our kitchens to “cook for our warriors” as noted by Kristal Brent-Zooks, Morgan cites the need for a new kind of feminism that is relevant to Black women of the present 20th Century (the essay was written in 1999).  She understood that not too many Black women were checking for “the f-word” due to the deep-seeded racism from White women.  But honestly, that wasn’t the part I was checking for.  What drew me was the idea of being a “hip hop feminist.”  Despite my knowing all the words to Bittersweet Symphony, You Oughta Know, Criminal, and Kiss From A Rose (yes, by Seal) thanks to my binge-watching of videos on MTV and VH1, I’m still an avid Rap and Hip Hop fan.  At any given time heading to or from class, I was pumping A Tribe Called Quest, DMX, The Roots, or Missy Elliot in my ears.  I can intelligently discuss the Roxanne Wars, the Bridge Wars and how the Biggie/Tupac beef fucked all that up.  I could tell you about the Zulu Nation and the significance of Afrika Bambaataa.  So to discuss a concept that puts hip hop with anything I was already interested.  But as a young Black woman, I was slightly conflicted.  This was around the time when the sisters at Spelman protested against Nelly’s appearance on their campus in light of the infamous Tip Drill video, one of many menageries of misogyny seen in rap videos at the time.  Yes, I applauded those sisters for standing up against the hypersexual male bravado that flooded our radio stations on a daily basis, but as a lover of rap and hip-hop was I even allowed to do such a thing?  True, I wasn’t constantly checking for songs that had the repetitive message that Black women were nothing more than ass and titties wrapped in a quick weave.  Sure, I was more apt to listen to uplifting and educated rap from Kanye West, Common, or Slum Village.  But I won’t lie and pretend that my bitty booty doesn’t automatically get ready to twerk a lil’ sumthin’ when I hear that Cash Money is taking over for the 99 and the 2000.  Joan Morgan let me know that I was not alone.  That there was a space (or there needed to be) where this kind of thing intersected.  We needed a kind of feminism that “was brave enough to fuck with the grays”  (Morgan, 1999, 59)   We needed a feminism that understands how “truth can’t be found in the voice of any one rapper, but in the juxtaposition of many…they lie at the magical intersection where those contrary voices meet–the juncture where ‘truth’ is no longer black and white, but subtle, intriguing shades of gray” (62).  As part of my quest to find such a feminism, I use a good portion of my refund check to order books from Amazon about Black feminism including Patricia Hill Collins and bell hooks.  I perused through essays from Beverly Guy-Sheftall and Barbara Smith.  I read studies on the feminist writings of Alice Walker and Zora Neale Hurston.

Based on that, feminism and I had formed a relationship situationship.  It was a situationship instead of a relationship is because to be in a relationship means that you relate to the other party that is involved.  Therein was my problem.  I could appreciate learning about Black feminism; but I still couldn’t seem to shake the idea of how White it was, perhaps from the lasting first impression of it from my childhood.  While Morgan, Guy-Sheftall, Smith, hooks, and Collins helped show me myself in the mirror of feminism, its reflection was still a little fuzzy to me.  So I found myself in a situation where I was in search of an ideology that I could relate to.  In not knowing of anything else at the time, I reluctantly linked up with feminism.  I was with it but I wasn’t WITH it, per se.  As with most situationships, there were no labels.  But reading more about the history of feminism, I understood my apathy.  In my historical research prior to joining my sorority, I learned that the founders of Delta Sigma Theta were regulated to march in the back of the processional because of their race during the 1913 Women’s Suffrage March (Paula Giddings, In Search of Sisterhood, 1988, 55-56).  When doing a paper on the history of Black women voting, I learned that the rift in the alliance between Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony was caused with the decision to either support voting rights for Black men or White women (E. Susan Barber, “100 Years Towards Suffrage: An Overview,” 1998).  I learned that while I wasn’t really checking to fully claim feminism, historically it wasn’t really checking for me, either.  The situationship lasted for the remainder of my undergraduate tenure up until my second year of doctoral school when I met Womanism.

While I would love to say that I found out about Womanism on my own, props must go to my Black Political Theory professor for putting me on.  In a discussion with him about the things I wanted to study regarding Black women, he suggested that I check out Dr. Clenora Hudson Weems’s 1993 classic Africana Womanism: Reclaiming Ourselves.  Looking at the book was like looking in a mirror, but only this time my reflection was clearer.  Here was an ideal whose founding roots were rooted in me, a woman of African descent in America.  It was something I could relate to, therefore form a relationship with.  I had heard about Womanism through readings of Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens.  But with her saying that feminism and womanism were one in the same, I wasn’t really feeling it.  After reading its sordid history, I dreamed a “feminism” that didn’t just merely acknowledge the racist roots of feminism that continue to subliminally grow, but called it out on its bullshit.  Dr. Weems did just that in her definition of Africana Womanism:

 

Africana Womanism is a term I coined and defined in 1987 after nearly two years of publicly debating the importance of self-naming for Africana woman.  Why the term “Africana Womanism?”  Upon concluding that the term “Black Womanism” was not quite the terminology to include the total meaning desired for this concept, I decided that “Africana Womanism,” a natural evolution in naming, was the ideal terminology for two basic reasons.  The first part of the coinage, Africana, identifies the ethnicity of the woman being considered, and this reference to her ethnicity, establishing her cultural identity, relates directly to her ancestry and land base–Africa.  The second part of the term, Womanism, recalls Sojourner Truth’s powerful impromptu speech “Ain’t I A Woman,” one in which she battles with the dominant alienating forces in her life as a struggling Africana woman, questioning the accepted idea of womanhood.  Without question, she is the flip side of the coin, the co-partner in the struggle for her people, one who, unlike the White woman, has received no special privileges in American society (22-23)

As good as feminism could be, there are still subtleties of racism that cannot and should not be ignored.  Case in point, this whole minimum wage thing.  While there is an uproar about White women making less than men, very little is mentioned about Black women making less than White women.  In the scholarly world, that’s called intersectionality where you have two or more minority issues intersecting at the same time (in this instance, race and gender).  Feminism still hasn’t done the best job in addressing it.  There are even books about the issue, like The Trouble Between Us by Wini Breines.

But that’s not to say I’m now in deep, passionate, theoretical love with Womanism either.  We have our beef, too.  First, it’s the sense of exclusiveness even among Black women the concept seems to have.  In reading about other Womanist works, there is a strong emphasis on spirituality and religion.  As a self-identified Christian, I get it.  As a student of political science, I’m bothered by it.  By centering the concept around a particular religious belief, we are pretty much guilty of the same crime we accuse White feminists of committing: leaving folks out.  I’m reminded of the approach Malcolm X proposed in his speech, The Ballot or the Bullet.  Regardless of our backgrounds, we must all come together to realize that we are catching the same two kinds of hell in America constantly: being Black and being a woman.  With that understood, we cannot afford to ostracize anybody from our cause.  Whether she is Christian, Muslim, Catholic, Hindu, Rastafarian, straight, lesbian, bisexual, upper class, middle class, working class, educated by the schools, educated by the streets, every type of Black woman is key in this issue.   It makes no sense that we as Black women vote at the highest rate of all voters (Black or White; men or women), yet our social progress is still among the lowest.

The problems surrounding Black women are in way too critical of a condition to shut out anyone or force them into a situationship with feminism because they do not feel completely embraced or welcomed by Womanism.  There is strength in solidarity.

Second, I take issue with Womanism being is moreso a belief than an ideology.  Yes, there is an actual difference between the two.  A belief is based on faith or perspective.  It is what a person thinks or perceives.  An ideology, as noted by Karl Mannehiem, is a vehicle used to mobilize a belief (Ideology and Utopia, 1936).  Let’s take a look at feminism to break down what I’m saying.  From its early origins in the Suffrage Movement, feminism has always had a vehicle to move its belief in the form of organizations such as National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and the National Organization for Women (NOW).  Those organizations have the ability to create and move an agenda based on the beliefs of these feminists.  And as history has tells us, they have done a pretty decent job thus far.  It can be considered a national fact that there is hell to be paid in FULL when feminists, mostly white with some Black sprinkled, get mad at something or someone.  Africana Womanism, to me, has not yet reached that level of influence yet, mainly because there is no vehicle to move our agenda which has yet to be created.  When setting our agenda, we need to do so on our own terms, and it would be better done if we did not always look to organizations built on the backs of Black men to champion those ideas for us.  We should be our own champions.  This would require us to move from the trajectory of margin to center (ironically, that’s a quote from by bell hooks, a Black feminist).

So, back to the initial question at hand.  Am I a Black feminist?  Yes and no.  Am I a Womanist?  Yes and no.  I guess I’m like Morgan, in a sense.  I have a need.  I need a Womanism that encompasses the spirit and passion of Black feminism.  I need a Black feminism that doesn’t just acknowledge that there is racism in feminism, but calls it out as part of its advocacy with the understanding that Black women are quick to get lost in the shuffle of other issues.  I need a blend of both, I suppose.

Now playing in my mind, Come Together by The Beatles.

We Still Slinging Knowledge….

Recently, a few scholar friends and myself got together and created a collective book discussing issues of race, gender, education, mental health, and media.  The catch?  We’re discussing scholarly issues using non-scholarly language.  So within the same book you’re likely to see a reference to bell hooks AND Bobby Schmurda.  Or Bayard Rustin AND Trindad James.  No kidding.  To purchase a copy for $15.00, please send an email to ignorantintellectual@gmail.com.  We also have cool buttons too we’re selling for $5.00.  Get into it and #getignant

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“I Know Why The Baltimore Girl Scowls”: Street Harassment in Retrospect

Jada Pinkett Face

It’s amazing how the undergraduate experience in college can reveal so much of yourself.  Most of my freshman year we would have various programs around campus designed to “bring the Bowie women together.”  They were pretty good efforts, even better because most of them involved food.  One day when I missed dinner in the cafe because a nap after class seemed way more important, I decided to hit up one of these events to grab some free pizza.  It was the typical girl talk kind of session, bringing girls from Philly, New York, Baltimore, D.C., Prince George’s County, Jersey and other places together to discuss their first year cheers and jeers.  While doing a balancing act of three slices of pizza, a cupcake, chips, and a Sprite, a girl from P.G. asked a question that I didn’t realize would eventually be so poignant.

“I have a question for the Baltimore girls.  Whenever I see ya’ll walking across campus, ya’ll always have such a mad look on your face.  Why do Baltimore girls scowl like that?”  Without any hesitation or thought, a fellow Baltimore student answered the inquiry, “To keep people from bothering us.”  The other girls from Baltimore, both freshmen and upper classmen, agreed with the response, sharing their own experiences of when they wear the scowl.

This was eleven years ago.  Let’s flash forward to today.

Recently, the internet has been abuzz with a recent video released by an anti-street harassment group called Hollaback.  The one minute video documents a young woman walking down the streets of New York for 10 hours and her various encounters with men on the street.  Some of them call out to her.  Some of them are really close in her space.  Two walked along side of her for a few blocks.  The video sparked a debate from both men and women regarding the realness of street harassment, if anything should be done about it, or were women just overreacting?

Before I get into my view about the whole thing, I will admit early that this “social experiment” does have its flaws.  I’m not feeling the narrative of this lone, seemingly non-Black girl going through the streets of New York while being pounced upon by mostly men of color. It definitely gives you that Birth of a Nation vibe, further perpetuating the Brute stereotype that has plagued our Black men for centuries.  Furthermore, street harassment goes beyond the urban settings this video focuses on.  I would have been interested to see an uncut full-length video of the walker going to other places as well (if she did).

But with all that aside, the video does have a bigger point that gave me flashbacks.

I first developed my scowl when I entered the 9th grade.  The summer before school started, all incoming freshmen were required to attend an introductory program for a few weeks to prepare them for their first year at Western.  With my mother working on the Westside all summer long teaching college courses, that meant I had to hit the bus circuit.  It wasn’t an uncommon thing, as this is what most kids attending Baltimore City Public School did.  Once I got on the bus or the subway, I was safe.  It was getting there that was the challenge.

It started with the cars honking.  Me being obliviously new to this kind of attention at all of 12 years old, I didn’t know what was going on.   At first I thought it was just angry drivers signaling to others to get out of their way.  I didn’t start to catch on that something was different until I noticed I would always hear the honks whenever I walked down the street.  Observing the drivers, they mostly came from adult men who would smile with the cheesiest and creepiest looks on their faces.  I honestly had no idea what to make of it (as I wouldn’t think any 12 year old would or should know).  Feeling confused as to maybe it was something I was doing wrong to warrant this kind of attention, I started to be more cognizant of what I was wearing.  In the dead of summer heat, I would walk down the street in a sweatshirt or loose fitting t-shirt in hopes of solving my problem.  Unfortunately, the cars kept honking anyways.

The catcalls followed the honking, particularly on the days when I had to meet my mother at her job at Coppin State College (now University).  Walking from the station or getting off at the bus in front of the school, I would feel the stares of groups of guys looking my young body up and down.  I would hear the whispers of “Damn, girl” as I hurried to the door, hoping it would shut behind me fast enough before they said the sexualized “Hello.”  Some of these guys looked around my age; some of them were not.

This went on for a few weeks up until school started.  I really didn’t tell my mother that all this was happening mainly because I didn’t know it was an option.  Listening to similar accounts from the other rising 9th graders at school, this was a common thing we just had to deal with.  A twisted rites of passage, I guess.  Some liked the attention, others didn’t.  But it was from those experiences where I learned the only weapon we had to get through the day on our daily journeys throughout the city: the scowl.  The scowl is a quintessential piece of Baltimore Black girl bravado at its finest.  It’s a slight scrunching of the eyebrows to match the glaring, cold stare of narrowed eyes, a tightness of the lips emitting all vibes that you are not to be fucked with on that day. For the most part, men would respect the scowl.  You did have your select few that would request you to “smile” or still try to violate your personal space.  The scowl still didn’t stop them from checking you out, but it did give a sense of protection no matter how false.

Coupling my personal experience with the overall experience of this video leaves me with many mixed emotions, mostly because I see the situation through different perspectives.  As the little Black girl in Baltimore going to high school, I feel empathy.  I understand the struggle of women in city streets all too well.  While yes, I am very familiar with what the statistics say regarding women and rape in that 51% of the reported perpetrators were intimate partners as opposed to 13% being strangers, that still does not relieve the anxiety I feel walking down the street wondering if this will be the day I become part of that 13%.  Needless to say it does not help to have known people and to hear on the news about the bad experiences of catcalling resulting in women being berated extremely, physically assaulted, or murdered by men whose advances they rejected.  My empathy then leads to frustration as a grown woman living in D.C..  Why should I have to live my life with this kind of anxiety on an almost daily basis?  Why can’t it be understood that the root of the problem is not in all “hellos” from men, but the ones with heavy sexualized overtones? (Note: Yes, there is a difference and more often than not, the signs are clear.  Your sentiments can speak louder than your words, guys).  Why is it when we discuss these kinds of issues the conversation is never around the need for a society that stops objectifying women but rather the need for women to conform to an objectifying society (Which really doesn’t make a difference no matter what you are told to do or wear)? As a scholar studying Black Politics, I feel skeptical.  Why is this particular issue a thing right now?  It’s interesting how there is now attention to such issues in the age of gentrification when such problems existed in these same areas heavily populated with Black and Brown girls and women facing the same issues.  As articles have reported, both Black and Latina women are most likely to endure street harassment at higher rates than any other race of women. Growing up in this environment, this really wasn’t breaking news.  But where was the uproar and outcry for us?  Where was the help for us to feel more empowered and to know that we had a right to walk down the street unbothered?  Where were those organizations to arm us with more than a cold stare and a shoulder?  Why do we care now?  Such questions will probably never be answered, but all I can do now is ask.

At 29 years old, when I think of my scowl I am reminded of the poem “We Wear The Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.  The scowl is our mask.  It is designed to protect us from the situations where the subtlest hellos could led to the most brutal of rapes (or so we think).  Aside from silent prayers that we would make it to and from our destinations in one piece and unharmed, it is one of our defense mechanisms.  I guess if I were to remix the poem to fit this situation, it would go a little something like this:

she wears the scowl

because it knows

it matters not

the clothes she chose

her makeup, her hair

her shoes, her rings

on the street, she’s not a person or place,

but a thing

the coldness of her stare

the tightness of her lips

she silently must remind herself

she’s more than between her hips

she hopes to be unbothered

with a bothered look on her face

so she can journey peacefully

and they won’t disturb her space

she battles through lust-filled energies

creepy glares, honks, and howls

a daily struggle to which i know

why the Baltimore girl scowls

The Ballad of the Post-Racialism Bullshit

trying to make be believe

because OUR president is Black

that equality is here

so they can have my voting rights back

 

trying to make me believe

because OUR president is Black

that equality is here

so they can take the quota back

 

trying to make me believe

because OUR president is Black

that equality is here

so they can take King’s dream back

 

that the price of my mind

is on the struggle sakes rack

$25 mill on the tag

can’t we see through that?

that my schools have to go

yet they won’t let me in their doors

and when they do, it’s a limit

that they keep suing schools for

saying, “oh that’s not fair.

because the president is black. 

he’s done enough for those people.

he’s pulled up all their bootstraps.”

what if i straightened my hair?

what if he pulled up his pants?

we’d magically change our status

we would be given a chance

and let’s ignore the fact

riding a Benz from a hoop

as Mr. West has said

i’m still a nigger in a Coup

white women are enraged

about this unequal wage

but low-key

they’d still make more than me

depending on shade

oh the shade my shade

plays in our daily lives

since they gave us a black president

they can also give us lies

 

trying to make me believe

because OUR President is Black

playing with toy guns in Wal-Mart

means that i’m shot in the back

that a hoodie is a threat

when you’re armed with snacks

jaywalking costs your life

so does loose cigarette packs

this shit ain’t Martin’s dream

this our reality

that i’m still subjected to

police brutality

from cradles to caskets

from playpens to prisons

profits from infancy to inmatehood

the American vision

 

trying to make me believe

because OUR President is Black

there’s no need for me to fight

because i’m not under attack

but if America has changed

why do i feel chains?

not the ones on your ankles

but the ones in your brain?

we say we live in a time

where race means nothing anymore

we’ll if that’s the case

why am i still followed in the store?

if that’s the case

why am i still beaten till i’m sore?

trying to use my rights

to protest my fight

against moral double standards

my people’s daily fight

 

trying to make me believe

because OUR president is Black

we good, let’s clear the hood

and take those ghetto slums back

“let’s give them all the police

they asked about for weeks

let’s build new condo spots

let’s clean up all these streets

let’s have a whole foods here

let’s have a day spa there

let’s charge them over their checks

let’s raise up all the bus fare

let’s force them over yonder

so they’ll never bother

to come back home

they’re not welcomed back at all, Mr. Kotter”

displacement through replacement

of all our residents

 

but it’s all good

after all

WE have a Black President

Sit Down, MotherFather

A few blog posts ago I commented on how American Feminism begat Fuckboyism in our society.  In said post, I mentioned in the last paragraph, “And how about single motherhood?  Yes, that too can be considered a bi-product of feminism begetting fuckboyism.  Shouting to the mountaintops how we can do bad all by ourselves will leave us doing just that” (February 2014).  On Father’s Day, I want to tease that little piece out for a minute.  And it’s not just the holiday that is bringing on this discussion.  While minding my business in the grocery store, I happened upon this little gem in the card section:Image

Two things must be recognized before I break how I break.  1) This card is very real.  I actually was in the Giant and saw the card with my own two eyes and 2) This is not the first time a card like this has been printed.  In fact, I went off about this same shit last year on IG:

Image

(Yes, I charged my phone after I took this screenshot)

But based on the way the internet is going nuts this ‘go round about this old issue all over again, apparently “y’all ain’t hear me though.”  I’ve read post after post from both sides who are either for the card or against the card.  While I understand what the card may have been attempting to do, I’m still not here for it.  The thing is when card companies (especially Hallmark since they are like the holy grail of holiday validity) make these kinds of cards, they are quietly sending messages about the state of our society.  The message I’m getting from the Mother’s Day card on Father’s Day leaves me with a few questions.  The first pertains the idea that this is a unique issue in the Black community.  If you were to look anywhere else in the card section, you would only find this kind of card under the Mahogany brand.  Okay, Hallmark, we get it.  We get that we have a painfully publicized history of absentee fathers within our community.  But guess what, there are other races that have the same problem as well.  It may not be as sensationalized and publicized, but it is still a problem nonetheless.  Haven’t you been watching Teen Mom 234 lately?  Where is their card?  The second question is what is the ultimate point we are trying to make with these kinds of cards?  Cards on holidays are meant for celebrations.  What exactly are we celebrating in this case?  The fact that Father’s Day can be a painful reminder of what you don’t have?  Are we celebrating brokeness?  Looking at these same cards in this same section for Mother’s Day, I did not see not one card that was a Father’s Day card for Mother’s Day.  With that being said, I’m STILL confused as hell as to why we are doing this.  Thirdly, while I get that having a card like this may be a type of moral alarm clock meant to “wake up” people about the issue of fatherlesness in the Black community, are we aware that this can also be a snooze button of sorts as well?  This is where the feminism part kicks in with “normalizing fuckboy behavior” (The Read, Break Babies, 2014).  To me, making a grand declaration that you are “playing both roles” with the feminist idea of “women can do it all” won’t inspire men (who probably ain’t worth shit anyways if we have to have this conversation in the first place) to step up, but moreso continue to step to the side.  As a man, why should I even bother to try to take my place if you’re clearly already taking it for me?  Furthermore, I think it sends a fucked up message to our kids as well.  For little boys, it increases the likelihood that when they get older and have children for them not to be present in their lives as well.  This stems from the idea that “Well, if my momma played the mother and the father, so can shawty.”  For little girls, it further perpetuates the myth single parenthood is the only parenthood.

 

In closing, before you single mothers out there hit me with the, “you don’t know what it’s like” and all the bitter baby momma bullshit, allow me to clarify.  I am not saying that single mothers should not be praised for their efforts and sacrifices.  I am the product of a single mother.  But in doing so, they should be praised JUST as single mothers on days designated for them (i.e.- Mother’s Day).  Growing up, my mother made it very clear to me that while she was a single mother, I still had some fatherly figures I could look to if I so chose.  She didn’t come at my with that “I’m your mother and your father” bullshit ever. Looking back now 21 years ago when my parents divorced, I can understand why and am appreciative that she didn’t do that to me or my sister.  Am I totally free of daddy issues?  Absolutely not.  But where I am thankful is that I did have some semblance of father throughout my life.  Even now.  So with that being said, I celebrate and salute all the men who step up as fathers and assume fatherly roles.