Hey Mr. Carter:
After Beyonce glowed throughout her “Love on Top” performance at the 2011 VMA’s, she dropped the mic, unbuttoned her sequin jacket and lovingly rubbed her small baby bump. I was in awe. But the most revealing, heart-tugging moment for me was seeing you beam with pride, as you flashed a celebratory smile and gave your wife a salute.
Shortly after Blue Ivy’s birth, you released “Glory,” an intimate musical celebration of her arrival, and I felt flutters, as I pushed back tears, while dissecting and digesting the complexities of lines like, “Just make sure the plane you’re on is bigger than your carry-on baggage.” Jay-Z, you’ve had many titles in your lifetime, from dope boy to musical genius, but “Glory” proved that “Daddy” is the one you’re most proud of.
Almost weekly, your wife and Blue Ivy emerge on New York City’s streets looking photo shoot fresh: the new mom–in her stylish, but comfy ensembles–with Blue carefully tucked into her baby carrier; face covered and protected from paparazzi. While the images always prompt me to smile, my mind drifts. I can’t help but wonder if you ever suit up in a Baby Bjorn or how you look when you gaze down at Blue while holding her in your arms. I’ve seen you grip a microphone with authority, and there are the endearing candid shots of you holding Beyonce’s hand, but since becoming a father, I’ve only seen one picture of you holding your “greatest creation.” And I can’t help but feel disappointed.
I’m a long-time fan, okay, I quote your lines during conversations, perhaps I’m a stan, but your music has served as a soundtrack for my life. I’ve watched you go from the cover of the Source to the cover of Forbes and your journey has been nothing short of inspirational. Now, you’re a dad, and as I much as I know the public isn’t entitled to pictures of you and your daughter, we need just a few.
As a black woman, who hopes to be a wife and a mother one day, nothing makes my uterus sprinkle glitter more than seeing images of black fathers with their children, especially in the media. From President Obama, with his daughters Sasha and Malia to the photograph of Tracy Martin with his arm lovingly draped around his son Travyvon, these positive images of Black fatherhood give the Black family strength, encourage Black fathers to be present and proud and give Black women more reasons to celebrate and smile at the Black men our lives.
Writer D.L. Chandler was right when he said you’re not a spokesperson for black fathers, but you are an influencer of black people, both men and women.
You used your lyrics to plant seeds about fatherhood way before Blue Ivy’s arrival. In “Meet the Parents” you cautioned, “…be a father, you’re killing your sons,” in “Moment of Clarity,” you forgave your father for his absence and parenting mistakes and in “New Day” you promised to “never to repeat him.” Jay-Z I’m not asking you to write a book on fatherhood or to be our modern day Cliff Huxtable. But now that you’ve joined the fatherhood club, I am asking you to put your Baby Bjorn on top (of your chest, that is), place Blue inside and walk the streets of NYC to further support the fact that being a father is real. A real job. A real experience. And most importantly, a real way to keep the spirit and reality of strong Black families alive.