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November 22, 2023 39 mins
This LIVE podcast took place at Mental Wealth Expo and was moderated by NFL Veteran Marcus Smith. The conversation discussed the important role black father’s play in building a strong foundation in communities of color. This collective group “Dads” (Styles P, Larry Morrow, Dr. Jeff Rocker, Sean Williams, Roger Milliner, Cordney Mac Wilds took on the complexities of parenthood and how the presence of black fathers in a household plays a vital role in changing the societal narrative around black men and their connection to fatherhood.
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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
My name is Kenya Gibson. Iwork with iHeartMedia, and I'm really excited
about this panel today because it's partof the Maternal Platform, which we created
around motherhood, specifically Black motherhood andwhat's going on with the black maternal health
crisis in America. But what Ifelt was really important is the conversation around
the role of black fathers and whatthat's going to look like in our community

and how we continue to build ourlineage. And I want to thank Metro
plus Health first and foremost because theyhave been a partner of this platform since
it began, which it was exactlya year ago today, So Maternal turned
one year old today, and thankyou Roger Milliner for your support and everything
that you're doing. So I'm goingto turn it over to these gentlemen and

let you all enjoy this conversation andwe're going to get started. Sound good
to say, yes, okay,good? What's going on? Everybody?
A marketsman of the second six yearNFL veteran, a mental health advocate.
What we're doing today is we strengthentheir family bonds, the role of black
father and building a strong family foundation. So that's kind of what we're talking

about today. I want to kindof go around the room so everybody can
introduce theirself. I already introduce myselfand Jeff all right. For those who
don't know, my name is doctorJeff Rocker. Also know that as a
celebrity theravist for the work I doacross the country, working of course celebrities,
athletes, and people in the entertainmentindustry. My name is Sean Williams.
I am an author and the founderof the Dad Gang, which your

organization that changes the way the worldyou use black fathers and also creates a
support system for them. My nameis Cody McClain out of Oklahoma. I'm
an educator, actor and performer.I focus on curriculums based around social identity
for marginalized groups of young men,mainly primarily in juvenile center. I'm styles

P I wrap and sell healthy stuff. Sir, Good after them, everybody.
My name is Roger Milliner. I'mthe chief Growth officer at Metro Plus
Health. Happy to be a partof this panel. Good afternoon. My
name is Larry Morrow from the Orleans. My entrepreneur, restauranteur, author,
a few other things. Right,so man, look man, being fathers

it's hard for us to be ableto on a daily be able to get
with our kids, bathe them,do all the things that we're supposed to
be doing as fathers. So Iwant to ask the question, how do
you maintain a work in life balance? I know for me it's extremely hard,
but I got a good wife thatthat helps me at home, So

bad time is my time to beable to, you know, bathe my
kids and spend that time with them. So what about you, guys,
And I'll just go around the room. How do you maintain work life balance?
Okay, for me, it's allabout communication, especially when you have
a partner. I think a lotof times there's four priorities in life that

the most of us go through self, career, family, and relationships.
The problem is people focus so muchon career not much on anything else.
And if you know anything about priorities, that you neglect yourself, nothing else
matters. You won't be a goodfather, you won't be a good partner,
you won't be a good professional aswell if you don't take yourself.
So I think maintain those boundaries andmaintain balancing lefs is key and everything that

you do, and that's why Itry to do every day. That's it.
I think for me, it's moreso balancing the time. If I
could balance the time, I couldthen put one hundred percent into wherever whatever
space I'm at. So if I'min my work mode, I give one
hundred percent. If I'm being afriend, I'm giving one hundred percent.
Of course when them with my kidsand with my partner. But I think,
rarely do you ever get to reallybalance yourself. You know what I'm

saying. A scale is never reallyever balanced, and if it is balanced,
it's how often or how long canit stay balanced? So instead of
chasing the balance, I try tofind harmony in all those spaces and divide
my time equally, so then Icould pour it in one hundred percent anytime
I'm dividing that time. I likethe harmony. I like the harmony because
nothing is really truly balanced most ofthe time in your life. You have

have to pour a lot of energyinto this for now and then get back
to this. But it's never trulybalanced. And I like to think of
it not work life, but lifework. You know, I was severe
I was severely depressed, and CorporateAmerica did not know it. I was
just operating. You know, menare looked at as machines. We just
go, go, go. Somy way of balance is intentionality, you
know, piggybacking and communication. Meand my wife have to be on one

accord. We have multiple different appswhere have we put everything in there from
girls' activities to what she has goingon, to what I have going on.
And it's pinging me letting me knowwhat I need to be doing.
And so I'm so intentional to thefact where I have bad time, I
have homework, I have everything inmy phone letting me know so I can

stay on track. Well, I'ma old dad. So my son is
twenty five and God bless my daughter, she would have been twenty eight in
heaven. My balance comes from actuallyhaving a great and smart wife that I
will with for many years and growingtogether and figuring out as you grow,
because especially for black families, youngblack men, I aim in our goal

is to do better than our parentsdid. And with that being said,
when you have a good partner,you able to grow and structure things the
way it should be. And sometimes, like you say, the scale is
always like this one way or theother. So it's like this but when
you have an understanding and wise partner, you figure it out how to do
what you need to do when youneed to do it, and yeah,

that's the way you go about it. For me, one of the things
that I've taken on as a strategyis to not have one of the others,
to incorporate my kids into what Ido. I bring my kids on
work, you know, travel,whenever I have to go out of town,
I take them with me so theycan see exactly what Dad is doing
every day and they get the understandingof when I'm working late in the office

or I have to travel, thisis why I'm doing it. If I'm
home during one of those remote days, you know, my kids get home,
they'll come into the same space thatI'm at and watch me check emails
and watch me be on you know, conference calls and everything, just so
that they can understand exactly what Dadis doing. Taking them to the office
sometimes. You know, my sonactually loves coming to the office and and

you know, spending time with me, and so does my daughter. So
it's not really for me one orthe other. It's incorporating them into what
I do, letting them see whyI do it. So this way,
I'm serving as a role model tothem on you know the importance of you
know, the structure and then makingsure you you know, are able to
provide. So that's one of thestrategies I've taken on. Yeah, for
me, I think having a verya partner like my fiance, she helps

bring a lot of bantags to mylife. And I'm always gonna go traveling
a lot, and when I whenI do leave and I get back home,
I make sure that I, youknow, I start work for a
second so I can spend time withmy family. But having such a strong
partner and somebody who is fully committedto just making sure that our child has
the best upbringing helped bring the perfectbalance in my life because, you know,

as a man and you always youknow, always work and always chasing
and you know, just trying tobuild that legacy for your family, it
gets hard to try to balance itall. But I'm even learning just listening
to you guys and taking you know, taking mental notes so I can go
home and apply them, because it'snever an easy thing when you're constantly just
always just trying to you know,keep going, you know. So I

think having the right partner helps bringa lot of balance your life when you're
able to, you know, sharethose responsibilities and work together to make it
happen more. One more point tothat. So I talked about how I
incorporate them into what I do,but I also make sure that I am
involved in their activities and stuff too, so they can see, you know,
when when I have a young olddad with a young son and this

new modern age of learning is achallenge. You know, I had to
learn Google classroom. You know whatI'm talking about Google classrooms. Google classroom
is so you don't get up onGoogle classroom, You'll be in the dark.
You know, your wife or significantother maybe doing that work and you're
out of the picture because you don'tknow. So I had to force myself
to learn his schedule on that Googleclassroom, know what classes he has when,

and also being involved in what theydo. My son is into all
types of sports, and you know, I have to run from football practice
of basketball practice. My twenty fouryear old twenty five year old daughter is
going through you know, job changesand finishing up a degree. Have to
you know, be involved in that. And then I got a thirty four
year old yes, I do havea thirty four year old who has a
grand I have a granddaughter, Soit's incorporating, you know, into their

activities as well, so you stayinvolved. You can't just put it all
on the woman. You have tomake sure that you apply yourself into what
they're doing as well so they seethe interest. I think what you said
makes you really smart, because myson is twenty five and he runs pharmacy
for life. He also produces beatsfor me and I believe the family structure,
especially with people of color, youhave to remember that you're taking care

of your kids, but you haveto raise them to make sure they're going
to take care of you later onas well. So it's important, uh
to have that that union and understandingeach other's lives so that that that works
perfectly. Now, my son he'she's he's more knowledgeable than me and certain
certain like I put him on,put him on the certain things, and
he became he's younger, he's faster, he's more up to date with things.

So like I introduced him to thelifestyle and he was like, we
got to switch the shower head.You got to get to the border.
We have to you know, usecertain type of toothfaste. So when you
grow as a family together and theyunderstand the hustle, it all pans out
absolutely and the interest, the interestends up being being there on their part
too, because now they're like,oh, daddy cares, Daddy's involved.

So even simple simple thing that thatthat I remind myself about, my mother
wouldn't tell me her interests. Iused to be real young and ask her
her favorite color and what she's interestedin. And her being a single parent
working two jobs as far as Ican remember, Uh, she just wouldn't.
She would like she didn't have anyhobbies. I would ask her,

you know, what's your hobbies?What are you interested in? But now
my kids can say, well,I know daddy likes to do this,
I like it. I know hisfavorite color, and we talk about just
simple things like that. So theyknow that I'm interested in their lives.
So when it comes to the hardship, they'll know that I'm a safe space
for him. Man. So whenyou talk about hardship, I think about

like, wow, like, yeah, I played in the league, I
had this good run, but therewas a time where it was a dark,
very dark time for me and atthe time my wife, she was
pregnant, right, and I wasgoing through suicideis and I actually tried to
do that, so I ended upwalking away from the game. But when
I was able to see my daughterborn, that's when I really truly started

to take my mental health seriously becauseI've seen somebody come out the womb that's
like, yo, this this personis depending on me, right, So
how would I be as a parentif I wasn't there? So I want
to pose the question, how hasfatherhood impacted you guys's mental health? Because
that was one of the things thatimpacted me, being able to see my

daughter born. That was like thebest gift that I that I could ever
receive. And also just the womenwhat they go through to have a child.
Man, your whole perspective just changesdrastically, right, So I just
want to pose that how his fatherhoodimpacted you guys's mental health? I know,
mean for me personally, I'm anew dad, so of course I

appreciate. Yeah, all right,she's about sixteen months old, so of
course, yeah, not too muchnew, but apparently it's still new to
everybody else on the panel. Verynew facts, you know, Yeah,
yeah, and going through the process. One thing I learned is that it's
easy to be a dad, butnot easy to be a father, right,

because it's very different when it comesto being a fault. Because I
was there's three pieces when it meansto be a father, which is being
a provider, being a protector,and also being present. Now the last
one. It sounds easy, butit's not so easy for many of us.
Why because we're so focused on thegrind. You're so focused on a
career, so focused on everything else. But our family and I have to

learn out the hardware because I travel, I do a lot of work.
But I realize my daughter needs me, she needs that guy, She needs
some form of leadership because as theman, we are always been taught that
we're at the head of the household. So if you're not in the household,
how can you lead? So Ihave to learn it very quickly.
And of course being a provider understandis that we always time of being a

provider is being financially a provider,and that's that's not always it. You
got to be emotionally provided for yourfamily and mentally as well, because it's
a crazy world out there, andif you can't protect them from the world.
Understand this, In the household,it will be chaos. And when
the it's chaos in the household,there will be destruction outside the household.
So you got to protect the house, take care of your house, and

lead your house as best as youcan. That's true. I think when
it comes to like being a dadand how it affected my mental health.
At first, Uh, it waspressure, right, all those roles that
we have, it was pressure.So I have to kind of change my
perspective as I grew as a fatherand realize this was a privilege. It

wasn't It wasn't all pressure. Nowthat you're a leader, you get to
be a leader. You get tolead your family. There's a lot of
men out had that would love tohave little kids look at them like a
hero, and I feel that whenI see them. So a lot of
the things that I thought was pressurein the beginning, like dang, I
gotta provide. That's scary. Mymom has three children. I'm the only
son, and she would tell allthree of us. She would say,

Sean, I pray for you themost. And we'd be like, Oh,
that's fucked up. Why would yousay that? And then she would
say, because you gotta you gottalead a family. One day they're gonna
get taken care of. You're gonnahave to provide and protect and do all
these things. So even my momput that pressure on me until I had
to like really change how I sawthat. Now I get to put food

on it, and now I bragabout it because I get to do this
for all y'all. You know whatI mean. I got three kids,
and I love on them so hardthat all the things that make me a
dad, it's a it's an honorfor me to do that, and they
see that. So it's for meto change my perspective and really made me
a better man. That's really hu. So for for me, I became
soft, soft like cotton swabs soft, but soft for me is uh you

know s O f T securely overcomingfeelings of tenderness and so yeah, yeah,
uh so I started. I started. I started looking at it as
securing uh no sincerely or sincerely overcomingfeelings of tenderness. Because all of us

grow up as men, especially blackmen, not want to be seen as
weak. And so my mother wasvery much hands on with making sure I
wasn't gonna be weak. She wasthe one telling me the walk up straight,
put my shoulders back and chest out. My father was fifteen minutes away,
made rest in peace. He justpassed three weeks ago. Appreciate it.

Appreciate it. But you know,even then I didn't have a relationship
with him, But I never hadany malice against him because of how strong
my mother was. But within thatit was a lack of emotional awareness.
And matter of fact, my wifeshe makes fun of me because she said
when we first started dating, shealmost broke up with me because I just
wasn't very emotional, and when shemet my mom she understood why. But

being able to be aware of emotions, be able to take the time with
my daughters and be like, okay, it is okay to cry. Now
let's think about while we're crying,and it's okay to fall down, but
we're not gonna stay down. Andso having a mind frame around how we're
looking at tenderness, being soft,being emotionally aware. You know, for

me as a girl dad, Igot two girls, both divas, and
they both got me wrapped around theirfingers. So me just being very aware
of how to be emotionally emotionally availablefor them. Like I said, so
when the real stuff happens, they'reeight and six, when the real stuff
really start hitting them, and adolescentsthat that preteen stuff, they'll be they'll
understand I'm a safe space for them. So being soft, well, that's

what's up? What about too stuff? Great king for me to be probably
different from everyone with losing the child, the suicide and losing the child.
So how it is effected my mentalhealth? Is it? Uh? It
rearranged my whole thought process of life. How I look at time, how
I look at other people's mental health, how you never know what's going on.

When anyone said, so you knowyou have a wife in pain,
a son and pain. You're inpain and then you have to figure out
how to manage it and how toheal and how to work on healing.
So it gave me an aspect ofappreciating time more looking at time. I

probably a little more edgy with timethan most people are, Like I view
it in a different way. Andjust how I like to deal with my
son is in a much more commonmanner than most. It's like I learned
from him and he learns from me, and we have a relationship which is

father father to son, but it'salso older man to younger man. And
my son actually doesn't call me dad, he calls me father. So it's
a it's weird but not weird,and most people would think. But it
keeps me in a constant every timehe calls me, I understand my role,
every time he speaks to me,every time he addresses me as a

father, you know, some something, and it makes me appreciate how he
views me also because I understand thathe understands that I'm his father and you
know, he's my son, so'sit's a different, different mind state.
And then you look at oh,you tend to look at other people's what's
on that mind. So I'm notaffected as much as by things while other

people because I look at time froma more precious standpoint, and then I
think, I consider people being inpain and the mental health aspect of that.
You never know what's going on withanyone, so I keep that in
the forefront of my mind too.Yeah, each one of my children got
a different part of me at adifferent time because they there's big gaps between

each other, one of them.So I had my daughter, my first
daughter, at a young age.I was probably twenty or something like that
when I had her, and soI was still wild, running the streets,
you know, thought I knew everything. Was probably not the most loyal,
you know father to her mother atthat time. But then when I
had my second daughter, I wasmaturing in life, and she got a

soft aside of me. And againI'm the same way. You know.
I was raised by a military fatherwho played me pro football. All I
was fed to do is be manly, and so my first child got that
strong man. That's why she's tougherthan the rest of them, because she
got that part. But then mymiddle da, my second daughter, is
a little bit more affectionate because bythen I was starting to calm down a
little bit, still in that middlestage of life. But now my son,

he gets all the love. I'msoft too, So he got me
wrapped around his finger. Because I'mnow more seasoned and being a father,
I understand things differently. I don'thave to prove everything. He does look
up to me like I'm a hero. I can't do no wrong in his
eyes, and you have to bemindful of that because you don't want to
fall from grace from your children becauseit's a hard fall. I know,
I know, but a lot itplays a lot. I feel the pressure.

You talk about pressure all the timebecause I have to raise boys and
girls. I have to raise mydirect children and my grandchild. So it's
a lot of pressure being all thosethings, provider, being present, all
those things are playing, and itis tough because I have to remember all
those different pieces. And then samething. My wife said the same thing
when she met me. I wasthe worst, no feelings, and now

she said, look at you.Now you'll cry on anything. So I
could relate. But you know,the scariest thing is the pressure never goes
away. It doesn't. And asa new father, I'm learning that.
But as you guys have been inthe game for so long, I'm sure
you guys could contest that you're alwaysworried about your child. Well, you're
always learning. One thing I realizedtoo at every So I have an eighteen
year old that just went to MorganState. So now I'm like, so

I do that. Yeah, SoI I tell all my guys on my
dad bros. Like at every age, that's the first time we're parenting that
age. You know what I'm saying, like, I never parented an eighteen
year old, so it's new stuffcoming at me now. So we are
always going to be in a stateof learning constantly, you know, and
self development. So we got tobe aware of that too because we learning

together. She's this is her firsttime being eighteen. Is my first time,
you know, parenting a college student? Yeah, you know what I
mean, absolutely, But I wouldsay being a dad. So I have
a three year old she's about tobefore next month, and thirty two years
old, and I just think atthis early age in my life, I
at an early age I inherited justyou know, that that grind from my

parents, from my grandmother, frommy grandfather. I used to wake up
early in the morning watch them goto work. I would be with them.
But I think it is still somethingin me and taught me how to
work. Now at this place inmy life is like I'm constantly on go,
and it's times where I feel guiltyabout just being gone, but you
know, when I get back,I try to make up for time by

just being present. And you know, I'm like, I think one of
the things that helped me was justsurrounded myself with mentors like Cannon Jasper,
my big brother. He owns abunch of mental health facilities. He's also
a licensed therapist. And my brotherKenny Burns been great mentors to me and
they always keep me in shape.You know. It's times where you know,
I deal with my own things personallyby just you know, putting so

much pressure on myself that I've beenable to surround myself with great people to
help me keep my mentor in checkand not just times when you know,
we always need somebody to slap uson the back and just tell us to
tighten up. And they always makesure I'm doing that whenever I'm traveling,
to make sure I get back andI get to my family and do what
I got to do. So Ithink having you know, people around you,

mentors that can really help keep youin shape as a has been a
big part of just keeping my mentorin check while being a father, entrepreneur,
you know, having restaurants. Ihave over three hundred employees several restaurants,
and it's tough to deal with thatevery day, you know, wake
up and have to do it overand over again. Now that's that's so

real, man, And what Ilearned too being in the league was that
I had to build a team.I didn't have a team, right,
And I had to build a therapist, right, a life coach, somebody
that could I could call on toactually help me. And you spoke a
little bit about adolescents, right,and we are being fathers. We're talking
about our kids. So what issome family engagement activities that could or that

we could do on the regular thatsupport, you know, our kids,
that can really help them, youknow what I'm saying. And that's probably
a question for you, Roger orstyles Man, that could really help them
get out and actually do stuff thatcan help them with their mental because you
know, kids nowadays, they don'tget out much, they don't do stuff,
and we all oftentimes we are onthe phone. We could be at

the dinner table, we all onthe phone, right and really putting it
down and actually doing stuff together.So what would you say about that?
Yeah, that's why I got myson in so many activities. You know,
I'm not trying to put the pressureon him to play basketball and football
like I did or like his grandfatherdid, but I think there needs to
be balanced. He started out.I remember being in meetings in my office

at home and just wanting to gethim out of my way, so I
let him be on his tablet foreveror up in his room on his phone,
and all of that time on themtablets and them phones is not healthy
for a child. So really,now I limit his tablet time, I
limit his phone time. I makesure that I spend enough time going in
the backyard, throwing the football around, learning the plays that he got to
learn, you know, for thenext game, and stuff like that,

so that there's more balance there.And so you have to make sure that
you, you know, be involvedwith the kids, find other outlets.
There's more things to do than justyou know, tying it up with electronics.
And then I've spoken to some parents, you know where I live.
They'd rather have their kids take thesenarcotics or these medications to calm them down

because they think their kids is toohyper. But a lot of that's the
stimulation they're getting from these electronics thatyou got them looking at. And so
that's the one thing I would saywe should never do, try to,
you know, put kids on sometype of medication because we think they're too
over stimulated, and no change upsome of the things that they're doing.
And then you'll do that, domore physical activities with them, and then
you'll see the difference. I say, making sure you communicate with them and

understand who they are. Like aa lot of parents kind of stop their
kids from flourishing without before they evenknow it. Like you have to find
out what your kid wants to do, what they're into. You have to
embrace it. You have to appreciateit, you have to support it,
and you have to you have tohave a healthy balance of being the father,

but being someone that saved someone,someone they could speak to, someone
they could tell their life dreams,and be supportive of it how you can.
But also you have to be realenough to be give healthy criticism,
educate them on things they don't knowbecause you're here before them. You you
know, as smart as they maybe, you may be wiser and also

know that you you could learn asa parent. Also, I think a
lot of parents don't understand that youyou're learning with your child as you grow
and you have to be open andlearning together. So uh, I always
I appreciate my relationship with my sonbecause often when you raise someone the right
way and think think thank God forhis mother. Also when you raise him

the right way. There's times Iget advice from my son, like you
know what I mean. There's timesfrom he'll read, he'll re reiterate a
lesson I gave to him to me, and that that that seems to work.
I think just having a common bondand really appreciating who they are.
You have to appreciate who they are? Can I add to that? It's

funny you said that. I rememberI wanted to just have my son do
sports all the time, but thenmy wife's like, no, we got
to balance his life. Let himdo music, let him do something else.
So in school, he's taking anart class, he's taking a music
class, and as much as Ithought it in the beginning, I'm seeing
how it helps develop them in amore holistic way. You know, believe
it or not, he's still intodinosaurs at ten years old. I'm like,

what you want a dinosaur? Thatis great. But it's funny you
said that, because as much asI like, I didn't want to do
it. Let him be himself,Let him do what he wants to do,
and he'll find his way. Youknow, as he continues to o
to what he's more, you appreciatethat like, my son wants to go
hike the appellation, Like you knowwhat I mean. He's in the hiking,
he's in doing things on his own, he's in the meditating. So

there was things that I was going, like, Wow, I'm glad we
raised this kid. Beneficial to me. I mean, you know, the
ill thing about having children and beinga dad is you get to share in
on their experience, you know whatI'm saying. Sometimes we think it's all
about us parenting them until my sonis into dinosaurs, like it's just wild.

But he's only six, right,so I'm still in the dinosaurs,
right, But it's funny. It'sfunny, It's okay. So when you
think of bonding right and understanding whoyour kid is and you meet them on
their terms and where they are attheir level. A six year old kid,
he likes dinosaurs whatever, I maketime for it to the point where
now I'm in the dinosaurs. I'mlike, I ain't never know we had
one of those, you know whatI'm saying. So we we we learned

and we bonding, we build them. But meeting them where they are and
you get a chance to bond withthem and experience something that you probably wouldn't
have even picked up if you didn'thave the kid. You know, there's
something called harping. When you talkabout hike hurping going looking for like bugs
and snakes under rocks, it's aterm hurping. I'm like, so that's
what he's doing. So when youwant to go look under rocks and the

trails and all that other stuff,it's funny. I do it, not
that I want to, but you'relearning something. You learn everything. I
do that, and we do thebugs and all that. My daughters are
really into that. So they lovebugs and all that. They don't like
they don't like spiders in the house, but they can deal with it outside
and outside of the speaking of daughters, even with the girls, the experience
that we have with our girls.So I have a six year old and

eighteen year old, but I wouldhave never had that experience if I didn't
parent a daughter, you know whatI'm saying, Like, sometimes I'm cooling
her hair and I'm like, Iwould have never done a braid my experience,
seriously, would dates I do it. I'm a girl dad, I'm
tough at the ponytail. I suckevery girl that three pieces loop over loop

over. It's rhythm, rhythm.But I got the toothbrush. I'm trying
to work. I'm trying to work, trying to work this conversation. Man,
I think it's safe to say thatas black fathers, we we are

debunking what they are saying about us, man, because you got the black
fathers up here right yeah, Andin today's society, you know, black
fathers are labeled absent or not engauge, you know. But as we sit
up here and talking, as weyou know, help the brothers that are

out there, help the mothers oryou know whatever that we're talking about today,
I think it's really gonna really sitin with them. But I just
want to go back around the roomagain because I know we were running all
the time. What is a waythat I'm sorry, how are you guys
actively fighting that stereotype to continue tobe that father that that you know that

you are, because you know,in today's society they look at us like,
oh man, he ain't there,or they try to paint that picture,
but it's black fellow's up here rightnow. I mean I'll say I'll
jump in because I'm actually doing itquite literally. Right in twenty sixteen,
I moved to Long Island in Farmingville. Whoever's from New York, y'all know,

I'm way out there by stony brotherand I have my second child,
right and at this point, I'ma creative director. I work from home,
so I had a lot of timewith my kid and she's on my
chest and an older white woman stoppedme at a grocery and she said,
is that your kid? And thekid is on my chest? So I'm
like, that's a little word thatyou ask me if this child who's strapped
my chest as my child. Butwhatever, we moved past that, and

then she says, I'm so gladthat you stuck around for this. Exactly
in that moment, I'm you know, I'm a frat boy, so I
got a lot of us were gettingmarried at the time, you know what
I mean, like having children andwe're enjoying fatherhood so much that that statement
offended me to the tenth power.That drove me to start a platform called
the Dad Gang. And now literallywhat I do. The whole premise of

the platform was changing the way theworld views black fatherhood. And when I
say thank you, thank you,now, I didn't know how far that
thing would go. It's not theonly thing that I do, you know
what I mean, Like as aperson who had a great job, You
know what I mean, like alot going for myself. This the movement
in and of itself. Every citywe go in, man like us,

hundreds thousands of us who are amazingdads. But you know what, the
media doesn't show that. So it'spart of that stereotype. Yes, there
are a lot of dead beats.Yes there are a lot of guys who
may who may not be active fathers. But nobody's showing the flip. Nobody's
showing the guys who are very active. Cause we're all here just being dads.
So my movement really started to justand it's not created content. This

is all our experience. We're notcreating you know, we're not doing this
for Instagram. These are all dadsjust doing what we do. And the
movement is like flourishing nop our beautifulbrother I say, especially as black men,
it's not for us to worry aboutwhat the white man said about us.
Really reflect back on history and howthe dad was taking out the home

to separate the family. So youcan't worry about what another race is saying
about you as dads like you can't. It's not our job to worry about
that and care about what white peopleare saying about us. To be frank
as black men, it's our jobto be in our households, raise our
families, do what we have todo, and understanding where the bunking of

this stereotype came from, and thatwhere black dads are actually some of the
greatest, if not the greatest dadsin the world, because of the struggle
we go through, because of themental health problems we have, from the
environments we have, from dealing withpoverty, of education, systematic fuck ups,
so to say the least. Andof course this is many white dead

beat dads as black but you're nevergoing to hear it, like my brother
says, because of the media.So it's for us to continue to be
great and not worrying about debunking butworrying about proving to ourselves what we are
and showing the youngest generation on whatto do, how to do and to
keep it going. I would say, yeah, but we are affected by
it. We're heavily affected by you. But this dude that don't believe they

could be good dads because of whatthe stereotype is. So they got to
know not to pay attention to that. You can't worry about what your oppressor
said to you. But that's whyyou have to be a good thought in
the home. So you could bea role model outside the home facts because
people are watching constantly, you know, and our young black brothers. You
know, if you don't see it, then you can't believe it. And
you can't believe it, then whateverhappen in your own household. So understand

that our culture is relying on usto pay it away for everybody else.
So we hold that responsibility. Someonecalls the burden, but I know as
black men, we can handle theresponsibility. It's within nuts. You know.
Like you said, you talked aboutus being removing the house from the
house, so back from slavery.Yes, it's still taking us told on
us. But that doesn't even thatwe can't overcome that. We have been

overcoming. We're showing that we can'tovercome that, and we got to be
on public platforms talk about it.Having this conversation up you let the world
know that we are still here andwe are still strong, and we are
still great. Fathers in here.So yeah, we're beholding. We're beholding
not just to our own kids,but to others that are around who don't
have fathers. When you talked aboutthat as and fathers, So for me,

I find myself not only caring formy direct kids, but kids who
don't have fathers around. I've beenpart of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and
if none of you have ever beeninvolved in that program, I strongly suggest
you get involved because there's a lotof kids and I just they were like,
well, why do you want tobe a big brother And you live
all out in Jersey, but youwant to be a big brother to a
kid in Brownsville Because I grew upin Brooklyn, so I know kids in

Brownsville without father I know kids inbedside. So joining Big Brothers Big Sisters,
I do coaching whenever I can,whether it's for my son's team or
somebody else's, so that other kidswhose fathers are not there they can see.
You know, I take on someof my own family members who are
single mother's kids, have them comearound, like my house is the playhouse,
come over to my house. Youknow what I'm saying, You could

do it here drop a kid off, I'll make sure that they're right so
that you can help out somebody elsewho may not have that father around.
So not only we're talking about ourown kids a lot here, but there
are a lot of other kids whocould use our support. It does,
it does, so, you know, and I still go back to the
old neighborhood and you know, Ido mentoring sometimes and stuff like that.
So we have to look about lookout for all the kids out there because

at the end of the day,we all have father figures. That's you
know. They say obesity makeup isgenerational because all of us are eating the
same types of food, right,So I feel like I've heard quote before,
their love is generational too. Soif I teach my children how to

love their children, then they thenin turn past that on to their children.
And so me being very intentional inhands on with how I love my
girls has has It's helped me stepout the house way more because you know,
I have two girls. My familylike, oh, you need to

go again. You need to havea boy. You know, you need
to have a little young DQ that'sgonna dressing suits and stuff too. I'm
like, nah, it's twins.On both sides of my family. I
end up with two more girls.I'm good, but I said to say
I have up to twenty five tothirty sons because I do the tie workshops,

I do curriculum, juvenile centers.I do a lot of working K
through twelve and in the community,so I focus on those young men.
And you know, one of mymentors told me that wearing a suit is
my superpower because as soon as Iopen my mouth, I'm relatable and authentic,
instead of stepping into to a placein a suit where you can be
authentic and you don't even relate tothe people you supposed to be serving.

So that has been a super powerfor me to continuously to step into these
spaces with kids and as a blackman decently articulate that can wear a suit.
I didn't see that as when Iwas growing up. So you know
a quote mine, I'm a poetas well. I'm chasing after the educators
that I never had. I'm chasingafter the ghosts of the educators I never

had. So I'm chasing after thementors I never had, the black the
black men, the father figures thatI never had. So that's part of
me trying to do exactly what you'retalking about. There is helping all these
little black boys that don't have thesefather figures, and it is pressure.
I'll never forget. When I wasa kid, Charles Barkley said on TV,

I'm not here to be a rolemodel, and that stuck with me
as a little kid. It's stuckwith me, like, no, you're
on TV. You have the platform, either you want it or not.
You have the responsibility. You havethe responsibility, and it's accepting it that
all of us up here have acceptedthat burden, that pressure. Pressure,
make diamonds. I wanted to makesure I get to you, Larry.

Yeah. I can't repeat the question. So, in today's society, black
fathers are labeled as absent or notengaged. How are we actively fighting the
stereotype in our daily lives? Iwould say, so I grew up without
without my father. My mother shewas she played both roles and me growing

up not having a short lead shownme I was able to go out and
you know, surround myself with greatpeople and I'm blessed once again my mentors
has you know, been an examplefor me? So I can be an
example for others. And when Ibefore I became a father, you know,
they always you know, instilled thosecertain things, Oh, you need
to get married, you need tohave a kid, you need to do
this, you need to do that. And so when I did have a

kid, they always help me tothat standard. And you know, for
me, when I walk out,I'm an example. When I walk out
my house, I'm an example toothers. You know. Like I said,
I have a lot of employees anda lot of people who look at
me and my family dining at arestaurant want advice or ask me to mentor
them. And so I just tryto make sure that you know, or
if I have friends who aren't youknow, doing you know, their job

in their home, I'm making surethat you know, I call them out
on it because we can't be friendsif you know, you not going to
be that example as well. Youknow. So I think when I wake
up and I walk outside my house, my goal is to be an example
to others. Uh, you know, just like people before me, like
my mentors had been an example tome. Yo, this has been dope.

This has been dope. You gotto get these guys around up.
Applause please, man
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