27 May, 2014


I have listened to “Can’t Raise A Man”, a song performed by popular American songstress K. Michelle over the past few months. I hear it being sung as an anthem by young ladies who have not themselves grasped who they are. I have watched the music video for “Can’t Raise A Man” as well and have decided to make a response in order to share my view of what is indeed a multi-faceted song. 

First, I’d like to commend K. Michelle for not making this a “man bashing” song. However, in a society where emasculation or attempts thereof are becoming more common, it is used by some as such. Miss Michelle makes several references to the man’s upbringing and how if it has not shaped him into a man of character , then what makes the current lady in his life think she can mold him. I am giving a man’s perspective on the issues of raising a man and how this song presents both genders. As a Father of sons and daughters I have a lot at stake in raising a man. 

 In the first stanza of the song K. Michelle states that “he gets older (in years) but never grew (mentally) every day he’s a different dude, for his life, he can’t tell the truth, how to love, he ain’t got a clue.” This means that when he was growing up he was not exposed to conditions that would cause his maturation or gain a sense of responsibility. There are several possibilities as to what that could be. I will delve into the possibilities which Miss Michelle spoke about. She states: “He wasn’t raised right before you.” This powerful statement expresses those points. Many times, women say that they don’t need a man to be a role model for their children. Having come from a community where single mothers seemed to be common and fathers and uncles were not, I noticed the cycle form. Young males either felt they had to be a man of the house because they had to survive. Various ways to do that involved selling drugs or using them in an attempt to escape life’s pressures. Miss Michelle, indeed, depicts a male drug user in her video for this song. The money gives the boys a false sense of pride in some cases and, in others, may have given the mothers an excuse to be friends with their children instead of parents. The boys them become displaced in their roles in the house. Now, instead of being reproved, the boys are praised for actions they should not be praised for. The fact is also, that in many, but not all cases, after puberty, boys are ambivalent towards the rules that a few mothers still have in place. As a result, the boys’ ambivalence towards these rules may go unchallenged and when they reach manhood, it may lead to them “lie to get their way” or to blatantly disregard their mothers. K. Michelle has a verse in her song, “Can’t Raise A Man”, which states the following: “He’s coming home anytime of night expecting you to let it ride. How many tears are you gonna cry? Playing games like he’ll never lose you.” The few male role models that may be present, in many cases, are themselves setting wrong examples . As a result, boys are “growing up in age,” but not “in wisdom”. This brings to mind, a scene from the John Singleton movie, “Boys In The Hood”, where a mother of a young boy, a role played by Ms. Angela Bassett, told her son that he was going to live with his father because she could not teach him how to be a man. She realized her limitations and fortunately the boy’s father, played by Laurence Fishburne, knew what his role as a father was. So, for women who are fighting their children’s father instead of working with him and he has a positive impact on your son – even if you are no longer in an intimate relationship with him – please stop! Fathers are vital to breaking the cycle of many self-destructive circumstances that our sons find themselves in. 

Now, “Can’t Raise A Man” also portrays another a view – a view that women may actually feel the need to try to raise or change a man into the type of person they feel he should be. This is a course that some women think is necessary because of, in their minds, the lack of suitable prospects. I have found that these women, in most cases, had few if any male role models from whom they could make an informed decision or even know what qualities to look for. I also want to point out that, if not given a sense of direction, both the woman and the man will have no idea about what to expect from each other and no direction to take for what they want to achieve. Society tries to place standards on people through the media. The average song encourages promiscuity; lots of people sing it and when it becomes an event in their life, they are baffled as to why. Television and movies portray unfaithful partners. Scandal, a television show which airs weekly, is an example. Women flock to the television to watch it, but complain if they are the recipient of the actual act of unfaithfulness. As a whole, the media undermines the role and responsibility for men and women. We have to be aware that simply placing blame instead of finding resolutions for destructive behavior will not heal our society. “Can’t Raise A Man” only means that without proper guidance, anyone can be wayward. However, with guidance and patience, a boy will become a man.

 I could and may expand further on my views about, “Can’t Raise A Man” later. But, because of time constraints, I will end my remarks by saying that K. Michelle, through her song, has opened up a venue for me to look further into the perspectives people have which are just based on their own experiences. One song can be an anthem to change the influence and influence the change.
Mr. Anthony Mark Lawrence is a poet, lyricist, free-lance journalist and Contributing Editor to IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD®--

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