There’s always three sides to every story…his side, her side and the truth. Tamika Fuller, the mother of rapper/actor Ludacris’ toddler daughter, Cai Bridges, is sharing her side in the form of an essay penned for Madam Noire entitled “A Personal Essay from Tamika Fuller…Fighting for My Daughter: Power, Wealth, and Hip-Hop.” In her essay, Tamika chronicles her side of the nasty court battle that eventually resulted in Ludacris being awarded full custody of their daughter. In the essay Tamika expresses her shock that Luda sought and received full custody after asking her to get an abortion and refutes accusations that she is a gold digger and unfit mother. Check out a few excepts below.
On losing custody of Cai to Ludacris.
Knowing that he had no desire to have a baby, imagine my surprise when he filed for physical custody of our daughter and a judge ruled in his favor. I was stunned, devastated and overwhelmed. I asked myself over and over again, “How could this happen to me?” What had I done wrong? It felt as if I were screaming into howling winds and no one could hear me say: I’m a good mother. I love my daughter. I’m a good mother. I love my daughter.
What kind of mother gets her child taken away? I only cut back to working less hours following my maternity leave to ensure I had enough time to spend with my daughter the first year of her life. However it was this financial reasoning along with events that transpired twenty years ago in my teens that were the sole justifications used when issuing a decision. The retribution continued to roll in because apparently taking away my child wasn’t enough of a punishment. I was additionally denied assistance with lawyer fees and told that only her father could authorize what was uploaded of our daughter to my personal social media page. As I apologized to my friends and family for not being able to share imagery of the evolution of my child, I must admit I scratched my head trying to understand what Instagram censoring had to do with disparate income levels. Subsequently I now have no child, no First Amendment rights and I’m in debt to a tune of six figures….
On being a gold digger.
I am fully aware that people often assume an average woman who gets herself impregnated by a celebrity is a gold-digger looking for a quick and easy payday. However contrary to popular belief, I was fully cognizant that I was going to be a single mother and I knew that he was not going to be involved in that process – I was okay with that. I went through my entire pregnancy alone and working full time with no support from him, most of the people in my circle never even knew he was the father until our trial made headlines. Deep down even though I knew he never wanted the baby, I have to be honest in admitting I was hurt that there was a real possibility my daughter’s father might not be part of her life. I thought that he would accept our daughter’s impending arrival and want to take part in the process, but I know now that thinking was naive.
On her relationship with her other daughter and it’s impact on the custody battle.
Let’s be clear: I never left my eldest daughter. I got pregnant with her when I was a senior in high school. She was raised by my family for a few years, as is the case in many families who pull together in times of need. In many African-American homes, there is still very much a village mentality when it comes to rearing children. The support system and love my child received is immeasurable. Still, I was placed in the position of having to defend myself when I have been a present, involved, and loving mother for more than a decade. My oldest daughter and I are in a great place, but Chris and his attorneys made it seem as if I dropped her off on someone’s doorstep and never worried about her again.
And it worked. His strategy to malign me in order to gain custody of our child, which was only done to avoid having to report his finances and pay me adequate child support (like he does for all his other children), was malicious and cruel. But it worked. They didn’t focus on my life with my daughter and the round-the-clock care I provided for her. They didn’t focus on the breastfeeding (which had to end because the stress of this situation severely affected my milk supply). They didn’t focus on the love. Instead, they dredged up and manipulated the facts of my past to make me look like a degenerate. The irony here is that he suggested that my older daughter was psychologically damaged because of my absence, but here he is, trying to make me absent in the life of our daughter.
On the impact Luda’s status had on the custody battle in her opinion.
Unfortunately, my custody situation with my daughter’s wealthy and powerful father, and the court system that loves him is not unique. Tameka Raymond had to go through it with her famous ex-husband and father of two of her children, R&B singer Usher Raymond. Royce Reed had to go through it with her child’s father, NBA player Dwight Howard. Pilar Sanders lost custody of her three children in favor of her ex-husband, NFL legend Deion Sanders.
There is a favoritism shown to wealthy, male celebrities. If they even pretend to act like they care, even if the evidence clearly shows otherwise, they’re rewarded. Their lies are excused, and their past mistakes are viewed as growth while mistakes made by “regular” women many years ago are weapons used against them.
Norma Mitchell, ex-wife of R&B singer Tyrese has been locked in legal disputes with him over the custody arrangement for their daughter. Something she said recently really resonated with me: “A lot of men with money and more power, especially with passive women, are using the legal system to abuse these women. Then they can point the finger and say, ‘Look at her, she’s crazy,’ because one day you just explode and can’t take it anymore.”
I feel that’s exactly what happened to me. He used the legal system as revenge, to spite me. This man never visited our daughter, never called to inquire about her well-being, and never even sent her a gift until the court battle began. You want me to believe that a man who turned down an invitation to witness the birth of our daughter has unexpectedly developed such deep-rooted paternal feelings that he feels compelled to take her out of my arms at night for 20 days out of the month? Even more callous, he knows I cry myself to sleep without her in my bed at night, the pain of her absence overwhelming. I try to call just to hear her voice, but he directs my calls to voicemail. He warned me that he would resent me for not having the abortion, and that’s what I saw in that courtroom. I didn’t see a man who loved his child so much that he wanted custody. I saw a man who hated his child’s mother so much that he would take custody away from her.
This experience almost destroyed me, but I won’t let that happen. I also never want another woman to feel as alone and hunted as I’ve felt throughout this process, so I am starting a foundation for mothers who are in similar situations. I want to provide support for women who are pregnant and aren’t receiving help from the father of their child. I also plan to provide resources that will educate women on how to have a safe and healthy pregnancy while under seemingly insurmountable stress. My organization will guide low-income mothers to financial assistance as well. When this journey first started, I was only advocating for myself, now I feel compelled to provide a voice for the voiceless.
As a mother, part of me feels horrible that Tamika had her daughter stripped from her, but the other part of me questions her intentions because she didn’t go to these lengths relating to her oldest daughter. Was this a case of unfit mothering or the result of a vindictive father?
Read the entire essay at Madam Noire.