As we all know, the conditions that the melanated citizens of this country have to endure aren’t fair.
However, after years of dealing with this type of treatment, the question becomes….what are we going to do?
Every member of our community has a personal responsibility to make a positive impact. We shouldn’t wait for athlete’s, entertainers & politicians to change the conditions of our community…..all of us have the power!
That’s why an organization like Black Father Nation is so important! We had the opportunity to interview the founder of the organization Slyvester Ware!
During our interview, we discussed his relationship with his father, the importance of communicating when your co-parenting, the reason he started his organization and much more!
Talk to me about the Dynamics of your household growing up??
When I was younger I lived in the same house as my mom, but my father was always close. Me and my little brother share the same father and I have two older siblings that have different fathers. I just remember as a small child him always being there.
He didn’t live in the same household with us, but he was there when he wanted to be. For a while, he was in and out of jail, not for long periods of time, but in and out none the less. So, whenever that took place my mom would hold it down and there were even times when my father’s girlfriend would help take care of me.
Ok, so ultimately what type of relationship did you have with your father?
I feel like back then in the 80’s my father had two or three different women he was involved with and the kids he produced from those relationships were just…. there. Right now, being a father myself, my daughter is my main priority.
I’m not sure if that was the same for him. It bothers me that some men seem to feel you can ignore how important the early stages of a child’s life are. A critical learning period for children is between 0 to 36 months.
During that time, they are not only picking up a lot of new information but also seeing things for the first time. A father’s presence is necessary. So, as far as my father is concerned, I just think he was a dude who had a lot of kids who were close in age by these different women, I’m sure it was a lot for him.
I know what you mean. That type of situation happens in our community all too often. How is your relationship with your father today?
Today our relationship is definitely better. At this point, anything that I need he’s there for me. If I’m making a big purchase or thinking about doing something serious, I get his advice first. So, right now it’s better than it’s ever been.
Also, the fact that I have a daughter gives me perspective. I understand the role of a parent now. I know how important we are, but I also know how hard it can be. So, now I try to text my father every morning and communicate with him more often. I just want to let him know that if he needs something from me he can call me.
He kind of laughs at that idea because he feels it should be the other way around. However, he does call on me for small things like going to pick up a part from the auto parts store or something like that, I just enjoy being around him. I wanted to start going to his house on Sundays with all his other children, but everyone is so busy with there own lives that it was difficult to make happen.
It good to see you and your father working on your relationship, it’s never too late for that. Ok so let’s talk about your family. How many kids do you have??
Only one daughter and she is 7 years old.
Are you and your daughter’s mother still together?
No, we’re not.
It must be frustrating not living under the same roof as your child. Has it been difficult to co-parent??
Not difficult, there are just adjustments that need to be made. For instance, I found out that my daughter’s mother has a boyfriend. Now, there is nothing wrong with moving on, but I wish we could have had a conversation about it as adults, so I can know what’s going.
If this person is going to be around my daughter, we should meet and exchange cell phone numbers. Not to be friends but if one day I can’t get in touch with my daughter or her mother, I can call him. It’s just good to have an open line of communication. When there’s a kid involved, both parents need to be on the same page.
Once that happens, you can determine what will be allowed and what won’t. Everyone doesn’t discipline the same way. Everyone doesn’t believe in running their house the same way. Having conversations about these things will help eliminate any confusion.
Your right. Attempting to stay on the same page with the mother or father of your children is an important part of parenting. Speaking of parenting, talk to us about the organization that you’re starting “Black Father Nation”. Why was it important for you to do something for Black Fathers?
I started Black Father Nation because I feel like black fathers do not have enough resources and support in this country. On the other hand, women get all the resources they need. Transportation, job search, money, section eight housing, etc.
I have a cousin who just got out of the penitentiary and he’s telling me how hard it is for him to find a job. He feels the pressure. If he doesn’t find a job, they’re going to send him back to prison. No one wants to go back to their old ways of hustling and doing what you must do to survive. We talked about how starting his own business may be the best way for him to go. There’s something we are all good at doing, you just have to tap into it. He’s a car guy, loves keeping his car clean.
So, one day he says: “I should start a detailing business” which I thought was a good idea. I have another cousin who’s doing 20 years in prison but only has 8 more years to go. I’ve been trying to help him come up with a plan because it’s going to be a different world when he comes home. So, with my movement, I want to be able to help brother’s in our community who are going through situations like this.
The examples I gave were family members but there are men all over the country going through the same thing. I want to be able to figure out their exact needs, so I can help. I also want to work with the homeless population here in Minnesota where I’m from. We did a couple homeless drives and gave out food and water and that was a success. But ultimately, we want to help the fathers. Here in Minneapolis, MN there may be a couple of groups that help fathers in need, but not enough.
For example: If a young father gets into a situation with the mother of his child and he’s afraid their disagreement will land him in jail. I want to be able to provide him with a place he can stay for a while just to clear his head and possibly prevent him from doing anything stupid. A domestic violence charge can really have a negative effect on your life, it’s already tough enough out here for black men to survive.
Getting that felony on your record will make it even more difficult for you to get ahead. So, I want to do things like that as well as putting together field trips, movie night, transportation services for fathers in need. I just want to make this thing larger than life.
I definitely see your vision and applaud you for stepping up. Black Father Nation is also a clothing brand too, right??
Yes, it is. When I first started out I had a lot of different ideas, but I decided that wearing my own clothes sends a message to people. I like Nike and a lot of the other popular brands that we grew up wearing but wearing your own clothes makes the biggest impact.
I feel like I’m building my own empire opposed to helping someone else build up theirs. It’s important that we start building as early as possible so when our children get older we have something established already. Leaving a legacy for the next generation should be the goal. So, that’s why I started the clothing line. Having your own in our community is necessary if we want to get ahead.
Ok, last question. In your opinion, how important is the black father to our community??
Studies show that if there isn’t a father in the household, it throws everything off balance. If you’re in the household with your child, it’s easier to manage what goes on with them. Even if you can’t live in the same home, you can still make an impact.
Look at my father, him being in my life deterred me from doing a lot of things. He would always warn me about people that I shouldn’t be around, even if it was people in my family. I have a lot of family members who have been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and lost their life. So, that’s why my platform is so important to me. I want to show fathers that being there for your kids can make all the difference in the world. The time we spend with them is way more valuable than money.
Connect with Sylvester and Black Father Nation:
@Sylvester Bfn Ware
@Black Father Nation
All other social media sites:
@Black Father Nation