More than four years ago, in one of my first columns for The Root, I wrote about pop star Usher Raymond’s proud papa moments in a piece titled “What My Father Could Learn From Usher.”

At the time black fatherhood was dominating the airwaves with shows featuring Snoop Lion (née Dog), Deion Sanders and Rev. Run. Adding to the list of Cliff Huxtable heir apparents was Usher, who had just married Tameka Foster, the mother of his unborn son. The wedding wasn’t well-received by fans or Usher’s own mother, Johnetta. The “controversy” baffled me because all I could see was a man standing up for the woman he loved.

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As a fatherless child, I was awed by Usher’s 2008 appearance on MTV’s TRL. Addressing the rumors swirling around his new marriage and threatening to suck it down into a tabloid abyss, Raymond grabbed a mic and looked all the haters out there in TV Land directly in the eye: “I’m a black, strong man in America standing up for my people as a man,” Usher said to the camera.

“To my wife, to my son, to my family, I’m making a stand that a lot of us should make. I could’ve been like any other man who would have a child and just, you know, live with that woman and continue to just, you know, play the game. I’m tryna do it the right way. This is the way you should do it. Pay attention, fellas.”Four years ago I wrote that I’d wished my own father had received a message like that in 1980. A message about sticking around and sticking to your guns. A message about what men “should” be doing as opposed to what too many men were doing. It resonated with me and with readers.

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