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Black Fatherhood and Nas’ “Daughters”

This week, Nas released the music video for his personal and somewhat controversial single, “Daughters.” The video depicts some of the mistakes that many young people make (all including but limited to following the wrong crowd, falling for the wrong guy, and making bad decisions). These are the things that make or break a person, shaping them into the person that they are meant to be. Yet, Nas’ message is clear as he rapped towards the end of the song: “I finally understand, it ain’t easy to raise a girl as a single man.”

What is it like for fathers raising their daughters? Especially as a black man?

Right now, the idea or even the practice of black fatherhood still has negative connotations in America. The most recent update of the Databank of the Pew Research Center reported that 72 percent of black women who gave birth in 2008 were unmarried. In the introduction of “The Myth of the Missing Black Father,” edited by Roberta L. Coles and Charles Green, “…if one judged by popular and academic coverage, one might think the term “black fatherhood” an oxymoron. In their parenting role, African American men are viewed as verbs but not nouns; that is, it is frequently assumed that Black men father children but seldom are fathers…black men have become the symbol of fatherlessness.” To hear Jay-Z rap about Blue Ivy in “Glory” or to hear Nas speak about Destiny Jones in “Daughters” is a phenomenon, a miracle, a 2012 rare occurrence, maybe.

In the music video, Nas talks about woes of fatherhood: watching her grow up, letting her learn from her mistakes, keeping her away from the boys whose intentions for his daughter is not so far-fetched from the ones he had when he was the same age as these boys. On top of all of these dilemmas of safeguarding his daughter and protecting her from harm, he has to do it as a black man.

Why have we thrown in the towel on black fatherhood and why are these stories (of high-profile public figures such as Nas and Jay-Z and of others black fathers in general) so far and in-between?

Also, what influence does black fatherhood have on black daughters?

From the prior statistics that the Pew Research Center provided, the outlook for black daughters can look quite bleak.When a black daughter thinks about her father, what does she think? Does she know him personally? Was he around? What kind of father was he to her? What kind of man will she be attracted to because of her upbringing? In “Daughters,” Nas raps,”They say the coolest playas and foulest heart breakers in the world/God gets us back, he makes us have precious little girls.”

Despite the statistics, some black men are stepping up to the plate and are taking care of their kids. I tip my hat to each and every one of you.

Watch the “Daughters” music video and let us know what you think!

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