In most Black Communities around the country, the term “It takes a village to raise a child” is used frequently to describe the collaborative effort necessary to mold a young mind. Having both parents in the home is definitely where it should start. However, what isn’t said enough is the simple fact that the “village” has to have a strong male presence in order for this to work. So, that extended network of family, teachers, coaches, etc. that a child has must include men who are honorable, responsible and consistent. For Bay area educator and business owner Khalid White, that was exactly the case. During his interview with Melanated Fathers of America, we had the opportunity to discuss the “village” of men that helped raise him, the cultural experience that comes with college life away from home, what he learned from his father to help raise his daughter and much more…..
Okay, Khalid. Talk to us about where you’re from?
I am from the Bay Area. Fremont, California. That’s Fremont with one e, my city is in between Oakland and San Jose, in a section called Arden Wood. I’m a Bay area native, happy to be from northern California and I had the opportunity to leave and come back.
Ok, I remember reading that about you. You went to college outside of California, right?
Yeah, I did. I got a chance to go to college in Atlanta, Georgia at Morehouse College. That was a way for me to not only get a school education but a cultural education as well. I’m sure you have seen the Different World T.V. show and how it depicted the black college life. That was an education on culture, being around different types of people of African descent a hundred percent of the day. That in itself was an education on culture that I wasn’t afforded growing up. So, it was cool to be amongst that type of crowd in my young man years.
It sounds like you had a great experience. I think sometimes we underestimate the importance of traveling and getting out of our comfort zone. Ok, so let’s talk a little about your childhood growing up. How was the relationship with your father?
My father has been there and continues to be there for me. We have a great relationship, a matter of fact we just hung out this past Sunday. So yeah, fortunately, I have a good relationship with my dad, even to this day. Even though my parents were separated, and we lived with our mom, he still kept in touch with myself and my younger brother. I’m very fortunate to have that example of what a strong father and an active father is. On top of that, I had my grandfathers that were also there for me. I even have one grandfather that is still living, and we even have a good relationship. Even my uncles were a part of my life, so there were a lot of men around me. When I look back on my life I do realize I had some good role models and examples. However, I do understand that nobody’s perfect. Right? So, they had some flaws like we all do. At the end of the day, I had a lot of strong black Role Models as examples. On top of that, I had coaches that helped me, and they weren’t always black. There were some white guys that actually helped me out when I was young too, I also had a Filipino coach as well. It was a lot of men that helped me out but most of them were African-American.
Okay, so it sounds like you had a lot of positive male influences growing up. Talk to us about some of the biggest things you learned from having your father as well other men in your life?
The biggest things man I would say is responsibilities and taking care of business. Handling business and being a person of your word. If you say you are going to do something, even if you can’t do it that day, even if it takes several weeks later, it’s really just the fact that you’re still getting it done. So, taking care of responsibilities was something that I saw my dad do and that was paramount to me. I also saw my dad’s ability to take direction and being able to take constructive criticism. I got all of that from my dad. I can see that’s how I operate now, he was doing those things back in the eighties and nineties and that’s why I’m doing it now in 2018. So, those are some things that I noticed having male influences around. I don’t want to put a blanket over everybody but for a lot of people who didn’t have a male figure growing up, taking direction from a man is a lot harder. I’m really speaking in the context of the student that I teach, it seems like it’s harder for them to take direction from me. I’m a younger dude. I started teaching when I was like 26 or 27 years old. Now that I’m 36 years old, they still may look at me like a 26-year-old which is no problem, but my students are 19 to 20 years old. So, if you must take instruction from a 26-year-old you may still consider them your contemporary, maybe there’s a challenge there. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that it may not just be my age, some of these kids are dealing with the fact that they’ve never had to listen to someone. So, I don’t know if that’s just them not having a father or a male figure because I don’t want to put everybody in that box, but I do think there is some truth to that.
I see what you’re saying but it definitely seems like if a child is raised around masculine energy they learn how to respond to it more positively. What are your thoughts on that?
I think in terms of that, I’m able to deal with men a little bit more constructively because I had that experience as a kid. However, my parents separated when I was 10 or 11 but my father was still very present, very active, and very Hands-On with me, still to this day. So, I definitely got some of that training from him. Those are the things that I really look back on now and realize how fortunate I was. At the end of the day, I’m grateful to have had those experiences.
Okay. It definitely sounds like you had some great role models growing up. I’m sure you have learned a lot of things that you can teach to your kids one day. Do you have any children?
Yes, I have one daughter who is 10 years old, she’s in 5th grade. Her name is Khaliah and we have a really good relationship. At this point, me and her mother are not together anymore. I am not in the house with her but just like when my dad wasn’t in the house, we still find a way to spend a lot of time with each other. We go to the library, or I pick her up after school or on the weekends. Even some days during the week I get a chance to see her because we don’t live too far from each other. Going to the library and things like that are what my dad did with me. For me, parenting is a responsibility that requires being there and spending that time. You can’t put a price on the amount of time that a child needs.
I can tell you are building a solid relationship with your daughter. Okay, talk to us about your book “Black Fatherhood: Trials & Tribulations. Testimony & Triumph”
Well, okay it’s a long story that I’ll try to keep brief. In 2014, when Michael Brown was killed out in Ferguson, Missouri I watched that story kind of unfold on the news. I’m just watching how they demonized Michael Brown as well his community on the news. They also tried to demonize his father and his stepfather, blaming them for inciting the riots in Ferguson. Not the fact that this unarmed black child was murdered. So, I said even though they paint African American Fathers as being absent and deadbeats Etc, I know too many brothers today that are present, active, and accountable. So, I took the time to interview twelve men excluding myself from the book, they tell their own particular stories about raising their children. We also interviewed two women. I wanted to get other men and women involved to tell their perspective and certain circumstances that we go through. Whether it be raising a child who isn’t your biological child or raising bi-racial children, whether it’s parenting kids from multiple women and dealing with child support cases or stay-at-home dads. We interviewed an older gentleman who was able to see a family before the crack epidemic and then after the effects of crack hit their families. All these different perspectives that are basically topical for us, especially being in the black community and surviving the crack epidemic in the 80’s in the 90’s as well as mass incarceration, just getting Brother’s perspectives. We even spoke to those who weren’t raised with fathers themselves and how that affected their ability to parent. I understand that my scenario was unique, but there are several people out there that been through the same thing. So, I just wanted to touch upon a number of things and hopefully inspire and educate people on the fact that black fathers have a real presence. It’s important to note that statistically, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has found that black fathers are more involved than fathers of other races. This information is regardless of us living in the same house or not. This is factual documented information and that’s not just me saying that’s the CDC, which is a federally regulated company. I think now with the hip-hop generation whether it is Jay-Z with his daughter at the game, or you see athletes like Chris Paul had his son in the commercial with him. It’s a badge of honor now to be a father. I think this generation is really trying to change the game and there is a growing population of conscious black men coming out of this Willie Lynch syndrome. It starts with us changing the way we think about ourselves. We need to start with okay: where do we put our efforts? Where do we put our time? Where do we put our resources and knowledge?
Okay, last question. Talk to us about your Company, Blkmpwr (Black empower) LLC?
It was basically a response to the Michael Brown incident that I saw on T.V., as well as the Freddie Gray incident. I started off making t-shirts with conscious slogans understanding that you can influence culture with fashion. I created some real empowering slogans, but I also wanted to get a following. I do have a small following and once I get that going it can lead to other things like books and films. The black fatherhood book was kind of the first foray into the books and films. I did this through my business Black Empower LLC. In addition to the book, we did a documentary. So, it is a business and I am in it to make a profit because I have invested my own money. However, at the same time, I’m trying to touch the community and give a certain level of Consciousness through the businesses that I create.
I definitely appreciate you speaking with us today brother, it’s been a pleasure. If people wanted to go and check out your movement. Where should they go??
They can do that first by going to social media, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram at Black Empower LLC. That’s Black Empower LLC. or you can hit the website which is www.Blkmpwr.com. I’m also on Gmail at Blkmpwr@gmail.com. Also, I’m an educator that works with the youth in different communities around the Bay Area.
Melanated Fathers of America would like to thank you for your time and input. Our community needs more brothers like you!!!!