Dear Mama: How Tupac And Afeni Shakur Made Hip-Hop Salute Black Mothers
When Pac recorded ”Dear Mama” he set an incredible precedence that caused the rest of the hyper masculine, hardcore Hip-Hop community to follow suit. Since its release scores of odes to mothers have emerged. And that is a great thing. February 21, 1995. Further more, the emotive, brutally honest song was also the the lead single from Me Against the World (1995), almost unfathomable in today’s musical climate.
Even though Tupac’s set the standard, his song will forever stand out for two reasons – Afeni and Shakur. Despite what some trolls have stated on social media, Afeni Shakur is a revolutionary, activist, humanist, Black Panther and soldier in addition to being Tupac’s mother. Is. Her spirit of power, resolve and triumph continues to live within us. In that respect, Afeni isn’t completely unique.
Far too many people gravitated to “And even as a crack fiend, Mama / You always was a black queen, Mama” and fail to look at the vast complexities of Blackness in America. It has been stated that when American catches a cold, Black American catches pneumonia. Black women have often carried the weight of a nation on their back, in a selfless, quiet way in most instances. And they have had burdens that would break others. I think of my own mother and grand mother as well as the scores of mothers that I know. They have demonstrated incredible patience, passion and have continued to push even when they didn’t get the love in return.
Everybody isn’t on a podium, social media or tv but they are doing the “work” that matters most. As I get older, I start to realize the struggle my mother had to have coming up, raising two boys to men, maintaining her career and continuing to be happy amidst insurmountable odds. Most people don’t realize that “Dear Mama” didn’t only represent for Afeni Shakur, it was representative of Black moms, which is why it is the Gold Standard.
So, on this Mother’s Day, I implore you to think beyond the social media posts, cards, hashtags and dinners at Red Lobster. Ponder the exquisite intricacy of mothers, aunts, grands and others that fulfilling those duties, and how truly critical they are to our universe.
Mother’s Day is everyday.