Today—June 21, 2020—is Father’s Day. My goal on today was to feature an iconic music video about black fathers and fatherhood. And you know what feels like damn near an impossible task? Finding a music video for a song celebrating black fathers and black fatherhood. In fact, there were so few videos in this particular “genre” that Will Smith’s 1998 song (and video), was almost the default choice for me. It’s iconic just for existing.
Yes, there are others, like Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father”—a go to father-daughter wedding dance song, which is remarkably sad considering the occasion. Now, there are way more songs that talk about fatherhood by black artists in a positive light, but those playlists are very, very short.
Having spent considerable time searching for both songs and videos displaying positivity in the name of fathers, I gained a newfound appreciation for this song’s existence. The message is important. There’s been this longstanding myth that black men are allergic to fatherhood. And I realize that everybody doesn’t have a great relationship with their father; some have no relationship at all. My own family isn’t immune from this. I was fortunate enough to grow up with my father who managed to be a role model for me, and I’m also surrounded by a slew of friends who are active present and happy fathers so Father’s Day, for me is usually celebratory.
Will’s video features his son and shows pictures and scenes of other men, with the majority being black men, being fathers with their kids and I can appreciate that. So on this Father’s Day, Will’s video that demonstrates a version of black life where the fathers are present and accounted for, with purpose and intention, is the pick. That’s what fatherhood looks like for me and is what I want my kids to see and what I will show them as long as God allows. I’m not sure Will knew in 1998 that by 2020 he’d still have one of the few music videos celebrating fathers and fatherhood, but here we are. And that makes it iconic.
Happy Father’s Day.