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We Spoke To 7 Daddy-Daughter Duos About What Being A #GirlDad Truly Means

These dads set the standard.

Human Interest

#GirlDad became bigger than ever earlier this year with the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gigi. He left a wife and three other daughters behind, but he didn't carry the title of 'Girl Dad' simply because he had daughters. He was a dedicated mentor, a confidant, and a present father to his girls. Months later, his example has pushed us to really think about what the hashtag really means.

Historically, Black and Brown communities' relation to fatherhood hasn't been the greatest, BUT there are great fathers who break the stereotype and deserve to have a light shined on them. We spoke with solid daddy-daughter duos about the true weight that role carries.

Like the late legend, these dads are setting the standard for Girl Dads and showing us what it truly means.

Courtesy of Dontaira Terrell

Dad: Don Terrell

66, Retired from General Motors after 40+ years of service

"The greatest reward of being a Girl Dad and raising four daughters has been watching them grow and matriculate into womanhood. From little-league softball games, Sweet 16s to graduations, and beyond, I was there for every milestone and will continue to do so. Supporting each of them in their endeavors and empowering them along the way has been my greatest reward.

Time flies and watching them learn and absorb knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to become intelligent spiritually grounded women, or as I call them 'Queen Warriors,' is my legacy and has been my greatest achievement as a father.

Unknowingly, in nurturing and championing their well-being, it helped me in many ways throughout my fatherhood journey and this pathway called life. My wife and I didn't have any sons, and people always reminded us of this, but it didn't matter to me because my girls are my everything. I know they will carry the lessons I've taught them from an early age across generations."

Daughter: Dontaira Terrell

34, Editorial Director

"Five years ago, I lost my mother after a sudden car crash while leaving work, which left her hospitalized for 14 months until she eventually succumbed to her injuries. Throughout this entire experience, I gained a deeper appreciation, a greater sense of gratitude and pride that I was chosen to be my dad's baby girl.

I consider my dad as a hero in his own right. When doctors assured him that pulling the life-support plug on his wife of 40 years was the only way to go, he relentlessly stood his ground and insisted it was not an option. With strength and sincerity, he stated, 'You may have seen a thousand cases like this, but my wife is rare. I don't have a thousand wives, and my four daughters don't have a thousand mothers.'

At that moment, my dad taught me the essence of unconditional love and the power to fight for what is precious to you. He is the ideal example and blueprint of my future husband and a true testament of self-sacrificing love. I believe parents should inspire to aspire, and in my quest to build and continue the family legacy, it is exactly what I hope to achieve.

He's the best grandad to his grandchildren, listener, provider, and mentor. But most importantly, he is always there. He is a constant force in my life that I can depend on, no matter what. From our Saturday morning daddy-daughter adventures growing up to our family dinners and road trips, I am grateful for that foundation that has shaped me into who I am today and the woman I am still becoming."

Courtesy of Christina Singh

Dad: Satro Singh

57, District Manager

"The greatest reward of being a Girl Dad is having joy in watching my daughter grow up. I coached and raised my daughter to be great at everything she puts her mind to. I remind her daily to be a strong woman and to have a kind heart, even if the world is unkind to her. Her accomplishments and resilience makes me a proud #GirlDad."

Daughter: Christina Singh

30, Teacher

"I am proud to be my dad's daughter because I've observed his strength and flexibility to provide for our family. Since I was a young child, my dad worked multiple jobs to make sure my family was taken care of. As I got older, I became more appreciative of the sacrifices he had to make in order for our family to persevere. I am forever grateful and will always thank him for being the true definition of a dad."

Hala Maroc

Dad: Nagy

65, Auditor

"Having a girl is definitely a big reward. Being a father presented me [with] whole different experiences and perspectives I could never get before that as a man. It even allowed me to understand and learn about the strength of a women.

As a father, having to experience mixed emotions (especially when my daughter started to develop her own path and career) was a growing process. Imagine experiencing nonstop happiness and anxiety in all the same exact moments.

She has a different path than the one I know or the one I imagined for her. Especially when it is a path full of challenges, that she refuses to give up on... I can't hold her hand but that makes me love and admire her even more.

I'm a joyful dad to a joyful daughter. That's all I can ask for!"

Daughter: Hala Maroc

28, Personality/ Wellness Advocate- TheBadassBootcamp.com

"I've always been a Daddy's girl. Anyone who knows my Dad would say he's a REAL ONE. I get my comedic timing, young spirit, and lack of patience from him.

He always taught me to be independent and to just go for it. But thinking back, there have been a few times when I really thought I was doing big things and had my big girl pants on... come to find out, he was secretly holding my hand the whole time!

Some of my most vivid memories would have to be in kindergarten when I'd fall asleep halfway through doing my homework and wake up to it finished! Or at three- or four-years-old when he put me on his lap to 'drive the car' knowing I wouldn't notice his knee doing all the actual steering. Or when he used to have me go across the street to a neighborhood bakery to pick up sweets and practice counting money and one day I realized he was watching me from our fourth floor apartment window the whole time just in case and even may have called the bakery to give them a heads up ahead of time.

I find him trying to still do that in my adult life sometimes and [he] may regret raising such an independent woman who GOT THIS! But I want to reassure him that everything I've ever accomplished stems from the confidence he instilled in me along the way."

Courtesy of Jelani Addams

Dad: David Addams

63, Executive Director

"My greatest reward being a Girl Dad is watching my girl grow into her power and potential professionally and socially. As early as primary school, my daughter was empowered to speak her mind and seek her solutions.

Providing the opportunity to become a peer educator in high school with NYCLU solidified her role as a spokesperson and leader. I am so proud of what she has done about the issues she cares about and how her writing has manifested her sharp mind and fierce dedication to justice and fairness."

Daughter: Jelani Addams Rosa

30, Senior Editor

"I've always been a very proud daughter. For as long as I can remember, I've always been a Daddy's girl and loved hanging out with him and picking his brain. To this day, he's my favorite person to talk about politics and current events with, I respect his opinion and point of view so much.

I can think of so many moments where I was proud to call him my dad, but the most recent is when he was honored by the NAACP for his work in the community. I know all of the amazing ways my dad has shown up for me—30 years of nonstop unconditional support and love.

I'm always floored when I think about the fact that in between making the time to be an amazing father, he's always found the time to be an amazing person, to think about people outside of his immediate circle, and come up with concrete ways he can be part of the solution. It's always been important, but in times like this it's invaluable to have a David on your team, I'm just glad I get to call him Dad."

Courtesy of Kim Cortes

Dad: Angel Cortes

66, Retired Maintenance Worker

"My biggest reward of being a Girl Dad has been having a daughter that I could be affectionate with and loving. Someone who allowed me to loosen up and brought out a softer side I didn't know I had."

Daughter: Kim Cortes

30, Marketing Manager

"My dad has always been a hero to me. He was an immigrant from Central America who came here with a dream and hopes to create a better future for his wife and his children. After years of working and sacrifice, he finally paid off our home. He was the first homeowner in his family and did it all on a maintenance man salary."

Courtesy of Brittiany Cierra Taylor

Dad: Derek Taylor Sr.

62, Real Estate Entrepreneur

"My greatest reward being a girl dad is the sound of my daughter's laughter."

Daughter: Brittiany Cierra Taylor

33, Sr. Manager Audience Development

"I grew up a Daddy's girl and then our relationship shifted in my early twenties. I think I'm most proud of the effort I've seen him make in the last five years to be my superhero once again while we both give each other the grace to grow.

I think as a Daddy's girl, you grow up thinking your dad's a superhero and when you find out he's not perfect, you're disappointed à la Molly in Insecure. Likewise, I think he always thought I was pretty close to perfect, and when he found out I wasn't, the same.

We were in business together which adds another layer of static. Since then, he's been super patient, willing to listen (we are both stubborn), and really just focused on my happiness. I first saw this shift when I moved to New York five years ago and then two years ago when my little brother passed. In those two years, we've traveled out of the country together (my friends still call him 'trip dad'), he's taught me new sides of the family business and I've actually been staying with him since COVID."

Courtesy of Soraya Joseph

Dad: Larry Joseph

63, Truck Driver

"Daddy is always right. I'm never wrong! (laughs). If her mother and I disagreed, she was always on my side, and ran to my defense. I'm serious!

True story—before her, I was afraid to even have a girl. But when I had her, it changed my life. I even wish I had more girls, you know? Girls are so special and fragile, and you have to really spoil them. And when they respect you (in return), it makes everything more worth it.

The feeling of having a daughter is indescribable. Because with a boy, even though you show them affection, you raise them to be tough. But with the girl, it's like, women are naturally strong, but also fragile, so you're afraid to do anything so you don't hurt them.

At the end of the day, a dad always thinks the girl is for them. The boy is for mom. We're sensible with our sons, but very sensitive about our girls. And very defensive and overprotective too. With limits, of course. It's charming. Having a daughter is the greatest reward. Especially when they're getting old, and they still call you 'Daddy.'"

Daughter: Soraya Joseph

31, Digital Content Director

"When I was younger, I used to be painfully jealous and territorial of my dad's paternal-like efforts outside of my brother and me. Like, I didn't mind if he helped other people, but I didn't want him helping them 'like a dad,' if that makes sense (laughs). I'm a mess, I know."

As I got older, I grew to admire my father's ability to impart wisdom and advice onto others and make himself readily available to the figuratively fatherless.

Once, I even witnessed my dad be late for work, because while having brunch at our favorite diner, a young waiter actually sat down mid-shift at our table, completely caught up in a convo with my dad. They spoke for nearly an hour, while I downed three more mimosas at the bar. Because of this, I've dubbed my dad 'the real-life Uncle Phil', since a lot of my friends and my brother's friends enjoy their conversations with him and seek his guidance. To this day, I get a 'What's your dad's number again?' text or a 'Can you ask your dad...' text from friends wanting his take on everything from buying their first car to general life advice.

In the end, I've learned that my father is a better father-figure than most men are fathers. While the younger me used to scold him for his friendliness, the older me loves and is in awe of it. Besides, at the end of the day, everyone knows girls are daddies' worlds. So, if he is a good father-figure, imagine being his actual daughter. He goes harder!"

Featured image courtesy of Soraya Joseph

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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