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In a powerful spoken word piece posted to, artist Marshall Davis Jones shares a dream in which he is a child asked to spell “father” at a spelling bee and he spells it ”m-o-t-h-e-r.”

His reason?

In his experience, deadbeat is spelled “f-a-t-h-e-r” and is a reflection of the parental shoes that fathers leave empty for mothers to fill.

Watch spoken word piece below:

The controversial phenomenon of calling Black, single mothers “father,” has led to backlash from many in the African-American community, who claim that it’s insulting to “real” fathers who do their job and emasculatesBlack men.

As previously reported by NewsOne, Hallmark’s Mahogany brand causes an outcry each year with their Father’s Day cards for single Black mothers. Though many take it as a stereotypical  insult to the Black community, Hallmark said that could not be further from the truth and that they began the line at the request of customers:

“Hallmark has long offered “Happy Father’s Day, Mom” and “Happy Mother’s Day, Dad” cards in our lines,” says spokesperson Kristi Ernsting. “It’s a common request for people who have lost a parent and want a way to express to their living parent that he/she has been both mother and father to them.”

The backlash to this marketing scheme has been harsh and swift.

“Dear single sisters who wished yourselves a “Happy Father’s Day,” in my best Maury Povich voice: “YOU are not the father!” wrote John Fountain for Chicago’s Sun-Times in response to the Mahogany card line.

“It is a denigration of God-ordained masculine parentage and a slap against good fathers; a subtle undermining of the divine prescription of joint parenting by a mother and a father,” he continued. “Women can never “father.” That is a lie from hell . . .”

Writing for Urban Faith, Will Laviest opined, “By marketing “some love” to single moms on Father’s Day, the role of dads is devalued, especially in a community that badly needs fathers to step up and be real parents. It’s also capitalizing on a self-inflicted wound. Society should be lifting men who are honoring their role.”

Writing for The Root, Dr. Ivory Toldson breaks down to the numbers that lead to this complex and often volatile conversation:

“In the United States, 31 percent of Black children have both a mother and a father in the home; 53 percent have only a mother present; 7 percent have only a father present; and 9 percent have neither parent present. These figures have been represented in various ways in the media to portray a single-parent crisis in the Black community.”

Though, for many people, “mother” is just as powerful and would have encompassed it all, Jones honored his “father” in his own way and his relationship with her should be respected.

Read complete transcript of Jones’ piece below via

last night
I had the most interesting dream.
in it
I was six years old
in a national spelling bee.
complex words….
up until the final round
one word between me and victory
the spell master clears his throat
young man your word is father
the crowd began to chatter amongst themselves
seemingly displeased
at the simplicity of this final word
I searched for those eyes
those eyes that say
every things going to be ok. just do it”
I dazed off
young man!
your word is father
I stood up straight, licked my lips and began
father, m-o-t-h-e-r, father…
the spell master looks at me,
down at his flash card,
back up at me
sorry but you are incorrect”
I don’t understand
my fathers sitting right in the audience
excuse me?’
“I am sorry son but you are incorrect”
well then
you can save your sorry apologies
because you must mean “in-correct”
as in within the parameters of being right.
let me explain something to you
cuz obviously you aint grow up
where poppas are rolling stones
down the hills of women’s backsides
and when he’s gone
all he’s left us
was alone
where minstrel men stroll around on bikes
while fathers balanced their menstrual,
2 jobs,
2 kids
and a life
on a unicycle
and it looks something like this:
breastfeeding on one arm
phone on the shoulder
cooking with the other arm
cleaning with one leg
tying sneakers with their teeth
young fathers
who make mistakes
because we are not all perfect
but the one mistake they never make
is abandoning their seeds
you see fathers
are master gardeners
they tend to every leaf
removing the weeds
placing us in the windows of opportunity
so that we can lean towards the sun
and never forget that the sky is the limit
planting kisses on our cheeks
hugs on our backs
growing their love on us
the best way they know how
like my father
my father, sacrificed owning nothing,
that I may have everything
my father, walked a daily nightmare
so that I may live out my dreams
my father watered me
with blood sweat and tears
so that I may be ripe
for the harvest
and I hope that one day
I can grow up to be as great a father
as she was for me
you did not ask me spell deadbeat sir…
but if you want dead beat here it is:
f-a-t-h-e-r, d-a-d, d-a-d-d-y, p-o-p
p-o-p-s, if you want the slang
you asked me to spell father
and father is,
always has been
and always will be spelled
so get your encyclopedias,
show me your flash cards
open your dictionary
cuz what webster says
means nothing around here
around here,
my father is sitting right there…

and I love her.

Poet Spells ‘Father’ M-o-t-h-e-r In Powerful Spoken Word Piece [VIDEO]  was originally published on