Jay-Z’s 4:44 Footnotes: Black Dad Love

Jay Z releases weekly footnotes for each song on his new album.  The footnotes are an opportunity for listeners to hear from Jay-Z’s notable friends on various subjects.  The latest footnotes are about the song “Adnis”.  In this short video, Jay Z addresses love.  To be more specific he engages in a conversation about what I understood as, and decided to call, Black Dad Love.

“But Claude, love is universal.”

True. Love is also an emotion that is passed from one generation to another.  So I believe that, depending on your cultural background you may have a different experience of love. Love is often shown in a different way when it’s coming from a Black Dad.  The way I would sum it up is “Emotionless”. And I’ll let Jay Z’s friends explain that better than I would ever be able to:

Anthony Anderson “My father, strong countryman, the youngest of 16 from the same mother and father on a farm, emotionless” 

Van Jones “My father never told me he loved me until I was in my twenties. I got one hug from my dad, it was the day I was heading to college.  I did not know how to hug back”

Will Smith impersonating his dad: “When I tell you to do something, there are only 2 options: you complete the mission or you are dead”

Ta-ta “You are taught that you are the person who should not feel emotion. But you are feeling it”

At this point people who have not experienced this type of love may think that this is tough love or even not love at all.  I experienced that kind of love, and while it definitely was not aways easy, I reflect on it now and realize it was an extremely deep form of love.  Love that was so deep, that it struggled to come out in words. In hindsight I know for sure that my Dad would not have hesitated to do anything for me – that he thought was important.  That’s why I relate to Chris Rock’s quote: “I can not recall my father telling me he loved me. [However] my father came home everyday, took me to ball games […].  Action is what it is all about”.

I am not sure about how to handle this topic.  Black Dad Love has been complicated for me. While I do not doubt that my Dad loved me with all his heart, I want to give a different experience to my son and daughter.  That infers I thought my Dad could have done more, but actually it’s more that this was his way, and he loved me so much he was afraid to mess up.

This is where the tie in with negotiation comes in. I see people messing up negotiations all the time, and it’s clear it’s because they just want to succeed so badly. Just like Black Dad Love. They want us to succeed in the world so badly, they don’t want to mess us up. Somehow, this results in closing off emotions – to protect themselves and us.

I recognize my own shortcomings as a Father, and yet I do not know how exactly how to overcome them. But in Fatherhood and in negotiations, one thing for sure is that I know it won’t be by closing off my emotions.