It’s not that I’m anti-father. I have one. Married to one, too. I know firsthand the power a good black dad has in the life of children—how their presence and love and discipline and direction can change the course and work miracles for little human beings. I know, too, that though we are a society that deifies motherhood, not all black mothers are good moms—that pushing a child from your loins does not guarantee you’ll be fit and ready to properly raise a little one. Still, in my heart, I just feel like something is woefully wrong about the whole Usher Raymond vs. Tameka Raymond child custody case that, on Friday, saw the R&B superstar awarded primary custody of the ex-couple’s sons.
For the record, I don’t know Usher and Tameka beyond pictures of them as a happy couple under the stress of the ugly public glare and then an angry, divorcing couple fighting over their kids, Saks Fifth Avenue cards, nanny salaries and who loves their kids more. Though I’ve read plenty on the innanets about their bitter divorce case and public child custody tussling, I believe what I see only .01 percent of the time because, well, the internet is full of fans and liars—fans and liars who get it wrong and don’t care that their starry-eyed wrongness and desperate need to align with celebrity has a real impact on real lives. Particularly in this, the Raymond vs. Raymond case.
Who knows? Usher may be a terrific, involved, attentive father to his and Tameka’s sons, 4-year-old Usher Raymond V and 3-year-old Naviyd Ely Raymond. And Tameka may be that mother who is, as characterized in court testimony, an angry, bitter mother who is more interested in being in the public eye than she is being a good mom to her babies. Still, one must consider just how much cash and celebrity plays into those characterizations—how easily being a world-known superstar can court favor not just in public opinion, but in a setting where the almighty dollar can buy you the best lawyers, the best psychiatrists, the best witnesses. The best outcomes.
In other words, let’s not pretend like money, status and fame, sprinkled with a whole lot of super star dust, did not play into Usher’s big win. Or Dwyane Wade’s, for that matter.
This much, I know is true: it is absolutely heartbreaking to know that a mother who carried a seed in her belly, who pushed a baby through her loins, who fed that child at her breast—who created, sustained and nourished life—can have her babies so angrily, unceremoniously stripped from her custody. From her home. From her arms. Tameka’s case is especially moving considering that just last month, her 11-year-old son, Kile Glover, died after a tragic jet ski accident in Georgia.
My heart would have been just as heavy is the judge in the case would have stripped Usher of his physical parental rights and said he had absolutely no control or say over his sons’ lives.
Look, children need their mamas. Their daddies, too. Beyond an occasional visit and a two-week vacation in the summer. And it’s a damn shame that the grownups involved in the Usher Raymond vs. Tameka Raymond child custody case, and the other high-profile battles like it, couldn’t pull it together in a way that would give their children what they need most—a mommy and a daddy who love them enough to get over their personal relationship crap to co-parent the babies they created in love. That is, perhaps, the biggest loss of all.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.