Aside from the obvious, the 2008 publicÂ ascensionÂ of the Obama family had numerousÂ peripheralÂ effects on our culture, including (but not limited to)….
1. We all joked about this at the time, but you can make the argument now that Barack Obama didÂ actually bring light-skinned men “back in style.” Perhaps it’s justÂ coincidence, but at this moment the most popular young rapper, most popular young black entertainer, and most popular young black athlete all easily pass the paper bag test. Hmm.
2. We assumed that seeing the Obama family in the White House would have a panoramic effect on dating and relationships in the black community. It did, but just not in the way we expected it to, as “Wait a second, if Michelle found Barack, how come the rest of you educated black chicks can’t find any men?” became the dominant conversation of the past three years.
While he didn’t exactly sign any bills or pass any laws to make sure that light-skinned black men would no longer be oppressed, Obama’s status as a symbol, a cultural icon is so powerful that he’s able to affect change by just existing.
Jay-Z, the most famous new father on Earth, obviously doesn’t have the same cultural cache as the president, but he’s extremelyÂ influentialÂ nonetheless. So influential, in fact, that there’s been a burgeoning conversation that Jay’s apparent love for Beyonce and his new daughter might possibly have someÂ peripheralÂ effect on black males everywhere, who’d hopefully stop (collectively) dicking around and finally realize how cool it is to be a loving husband and doting father.
This conversationÂ crescendoed yesterday with the release of “Glory” — a song devoted to his infant daughter and featuring his infant daughter.Â Saccharin? Sure, but if Google and the blogosphere are any indications, it definitely helped to cement Jay-Z’s new status as a certified positive relationship and marriage role model…a sentiment that’s about as far from the f*cking truth as you can get.
Again, Jay-Z does appear to be in a very happy and healthy relationship, and that’s commendable and enviable. But calling the Jigga Man a relationship role model is like lauding the Nazis for turning Germany’s economy around; you can’t completely eschew the means just so you can lavish praise on the end.Â In Jay-Z’s case, his super duper awesome marriage is a direct result of the decades of dirt he did to get where he is now.
But, forget about that for a sec. Let’s say that Jay-Z is actually a relationship and marriage role model. Since he’s a role model, a young man would be wise to attempt to follow in his footsteps. In order to do this, the young man would have to do each of the following things:
Spend his late teens and early 20’s amassing a small fortune while being a malignant cancer to his community.
Use the moneyÂ accumulatedÂ by being a cancer to fund a new business venture.
Amass an even larger fortune by unapologeticallyÂ outlining, in detail, everything he did while he was being a malignant cancer to his community. Do this for 15 years.
Sleep with perhaps hundreds of different women, and amass more of a fortune byÂ unapologeticallyÂ outlining, in detail, every possible way to diss, demean, degrade, and justÂ generallyÂ sh*t on the women he was able to sleep with. Do this for 15 years, too.
Use status and fortune obtained by A) being a cancer, B) outlining exactly how he was a cancer, C)Â sh*tting on women, andÂ D) outlining exactly how he sh*t on women to bag one of the most sought after women on the planet.Â Marry said woman.
Ironically, most of the statements I’ve heard about Jay-Z being a relationship role model have come from women.
Why is this ironic? Well, they’re right. Jay-Z already is a role model…for all the men who want to be able to do as much dirt as they can in their 20’s and 30’s and still be able to pull a young hot chick when they’re a decade away from AARP and finally ready to settle down.
These women fail to realize that they’re indirectly praising and promoting the type of behavior they abhor. While it’s true that Jay-Z probably does genuinely love and adore his wife, men like that can only consider “loving” after they’ve made monsters out of dozens of women. Basically, his life is the blueprint for how to be a successful diva dude.
I imagine the tone of this post makes it seem like I’m anti-Jay-Z, and that’s totally not true.Â I think he’s many positive things. The greatest rapper of all-time. A savvy businessman. An instinctual opportunist. A cultural icon. A real life Horatio AlgerÂ tale.Â A (seemingly) great husband and father.
But, as Panama’s piece last week about Common reminds us, we have to be careful with assigning certain titles to people who don’t deserve or even want them. And, regarding Jay-Z’s new status as the marriage and relationship role model for young black men, be careful what you wish for because it just might happen.
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)