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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Daddy Issues?

African American Women seem to have gone group crazy. With the positive role models we have like Oprah and Michelle Obama, something is still gumming up the works. Powerful women with the time, resources and a public image that says they're sensitive to the plight of womanhood and humanity either aren't speaking loud enough, are living on cloud 9 squared, or better able to handle their insanity, while the opposite side of the same coin is wasting time, potential and damaging a future generation of young ladies. I'm trying to understand, so I throw myself into "research" and a catchphrase keeps popping up with alarming regularity. "Daddy Issues" appear to be the culprit of our swan dive off the deep end. Daddy issues is supposed to explain Montana Fishburne's alleged decision to dive *ahem* head first into the adult film industry. Daddy issues is supposed to explain Maia Campbell's repeated, embarrassingly intoxicated appearances on various black gossip sites. Daddy issues are supposed to explain everything about Fantasia Barrino from her illiteracy, to her recently taped dalliances with a married man and alleged drug overdose of sleeping pills and aspirin on Monday, August 9th. What are "daddy issues"? How are they responsible for all this frequently recorded and re~aired misbehavior?
Poor unsuspecting Carl Jung got thrown into this definition, identifying recurring behavior in a woman's relationship with their father and her relationship with "her man". Daddy issues apparently manifest themselves through an uncontrollable (and esteem threatening) need to gain male attention...failing that, any attention will do. Obviously, we all enjoy being complimented, noticed for our positive attributes and congratulated on our achievements. But Jungian derived daddy issues drives a woman to desire complete and total WORSHIP. A willingness to debase one's self, cling to an unwilling partner, a failure to see one's value unless in or on the verge of a relationship, a lack of a social support system whose sole purpose is to grab you by the thong and whip you back in line when your thirst for attention becomes dangerous. In other words...two female friends with daddy issues can easily become a viral adult youtube clip involving a turtle, a handful of pecans and a freckled face midget that we all sit back and shake our heads at.

Starting with your three most current case studies, we can identify the things they have in common apart from being "fatherless".  For the record, I put this word in quotes because somewhere on earth a man is responsible for expending approximately 10cc's. He may continue to fulfill his role of husband, or need improvements in the "fatherhood" department, but I admit, I respect that some of these men are willing to attempt to fulfill their roles. No parent is born with tech support and a parent guide. They did their best with what they knew at the time and in my book, that makes them a father, just as surely as an ill equipped mother, is truly a mother.

Maia Campbell, (b. November 26, 1976) worked in films including a cameo in Poetic Justice and a role in the movie South Central, but is best known for her reoccurring roles on the short run Thea and LL Cool J comedy In The House. The daughter of world famous author Bebe Moore (Sucessful Women, Angry Men: Backlash in the Two Career Marriage and Your Blues Ain't Like Mine) and architect and author father Tiko Campbell, her upbringing could be described as upperclass comfortable in Maryland. Little is known about Tiko Campbell outside of his accomplishments as an architect, his divorce from Bebe and his singular dive into the literary realm with the adventure/sci-fi novel The Light in the Stones: ...from the tales of Fibinacci... The Campbell marriage dissolved shortly following the family's move to Los Angeles when Maia was 8 years old. Little is known about Tiko's ongoing contact with his daughter following the divorce. Bebe Moore~Campbell's death one day prior to Maia's birthdate in 2006 is rumoured to have sent this young lady's life spinning out of control. In interviews, she lauded her mother for keeping her stable and focused and rarely mentioned the presence of her father in her life. An absence of acting roles and understandable depression resulted in a lifestyle of alleged drug addiction, whispers of prostitution, an abusive pimp and numerous arrests. As of this entry, a video clip was linked to a "bossip" site displaying an incoherent Campbell highly agitated and erratically rapping lyrics to her "upcoming album" while alternately begging for money and engaging in a verbal altercation with two female passersby. As of this entry, a new mugshot featuring a decidely drawn and emaciated Campbell is making the social network rounds.

Her amazing voice draws comparisons to R&B's greatest from Chaka Khan to Patti LaBelle. Her performances on American Idol was the subject of watercooler conversation for the entire run of the show. Her infectious smile and sassy attitude made us feel that she was that sister from "around da way" that we could all relate to, and her sense of "thick girl" style gave hips around the country an extra proud reason to sway. In short, she won her audience over by being herself. The 8 Grammy nominations didn't hurt either. Platinum selling, Fantasia Monique Barrino (born June 30, 1984), the daughter of Joseph and Diane Barrino (and cousin of R & B duo K-Ci & JoJo) grew up in a musical family in North Carolina. Joseph and Diane are still married, however, Fantasia's autobiography entitled Life Is Not A Fairy Tale depicts daddy Joe in a less than flattering and unsupportive light. So much so, that Mr. Barrino filed a lawsuit claiming the book was full of "false, exaggerated, sensational, intentional and malicious untruths." Fantasia's fall doesn't compare (if that's the right word) Maia Campbell's. Fantasia's willingness to openly admit to and conquer her illiteracy, not to mention earning her high school diploma and providing an enriched lifestyle to the child she bore at 16 years old, Barrino appeared triumphant despite her obstacles. Until rumors surfaced about an alleged recorded sexual encounter with the married, cellphone salesman Antwaun Cook in 2009. In conjunction with Monday night's much ballyhooed "substance abuse" overdose of a sleep aid and aspirin, Fantasia is now in a hailstorm of negative publicity threatening to overshadow her accomplishments.

Laurence Fishburne is a consumate actor (and one of my personal favorites). From his beginnings as a short lived member of the Mod Squad, to being originally cast to play  "Michael Evans" on Norman Lear's Good Times (which by the way...I would regularly PAY to see), to his break out role in Cornbread, Earl and Me and the final catapult to stardom in Coppola's Apocalypse Now, there's little about Fishburne that I didn't know and loved. I even recall Montana's birth announcement. It didn't make headlines, but it was par for the course in my private fascination with all things Fishburne. Born in 1991, Montana is the daughter of actress Hajna O. Moss who married Fishburne in 1985. Laurence and Hajna divorced in the mid-90's, but Fishburne is seen in pictures with Montana at several red carpet events. His hands on involvement in her life is up for speculation following the initial revelation that Montana would delve into the adult film industry. The first information "leaked" presented a young lady, who'd made a firm decision about entering adult porn (let's call it what it is...) based on the misguided notion that it would launch her career in a Kardashian fashion. A poor decision? Sure, but one made by a youngster of legal judgements, harm nor foul. And then the alleged backstory began to produce allegations of pimps, addiction, general confusion and tomfoolery including "leaked" interviews. She doesn't have a discography yet, in fact, without this new information, she would have probably faded into the background of "child of a celebrity...". It's a drastic move to take, and as I write, I'm wondering if it will work.

I think "Daddy Issues" is a catchphrase designed to excuse and/or exploit (to a small degree) an intrusive media. Consider this: Women have made bad choices in employment, relationships, clothing since time catapulted from whichever source you currently believe in. Men have too, Rick James, Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods.  Media coverage allows a voyeuristic autopsy of every bad decision and thinks up catchphrases without offering a solution. *I'm a participant...and every time you bemoan, berate and are you.
*Allow me to state that I hesitated writing this entry. In fact, I avoided posting on Monday purposely because the bad seemed to outshine the good.  And trust me, even in this, there is good.  (Another chance, a moment to be free of addiction, a kind word....).  But, I tend to speak in caricature and wanted to be sure to examine the topic with a measure of humanity, while continuing to utilize my own voice as a writer. As a fan of both Fantasia and Maia Campbell (before her decline), I wish them improved mental and emotional health as I realize my scrutiny and criticism isn't what they need at this time. As a woman, I extend my wishes that Ms. Montana Fishburne is allowed to grow beyond what many view as a mistake. 
 I love my sisterhood.
 I wish we would speak louder...effectively.
Grow stronger...emotionally.
and keep going...infinitely.


  1. Gotdamn? Is that Maia? Lawd. I feel bad for her. She's sick and needs help. Her mother passing probably is still messing w/her.

  2. Doesn't it just hurt your heart?!! I'm hoping she rehabs without relapse this time...

  3. good post. Unfortunately in life none of us have what I consider (perfect) upbringings. We are and become our decisions. Unfortunately some of us make it and and some of us don't. Some of us are allowed to make our mistakes in anonymity. Those of us that seek the light play out our lives in full view of everyone. No one is perfect. We are always growing. Here's to sista's realizing that everything is not Daddy's fault and realizing that in the end no one controls their live's but themselves. And to growing and getting past whatever pain life has presented them in the past....

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