Father’s Day is June 21, and rather than rack my brain about gifts for the men in my life, my first thoughts circled around their well-being. After checking in with a few men in my inner circle, I noticed that most of their answers to the question, “How are you doing?” began with a deep sigh.
I can’t blame them. The Black community is tired, and it didn’t just start with the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd. I put the ask out to chat with Charlotte dads, and “Black Dads Speak” came to life. The series leads up to Father’s Day and features brief conversations that meet at the intersection of being a Black man and a Black dad.
Our series kicks off with Kevin Gatlin, founder of Playtime Edventures.
Share your thoughts about the conversation at the end of the article.
Father of two sons, ages 7 and 16
How have you been doing?
No different than everybody else. It’s been an emotional roller coaster, and I’m trying to pivot with a company. Then, trying to be supportive as a father, trying to keep that game face and never let them see you sweat. (laughs)
Your family is relying on you, so you’re holding in your emotions because you don’t want them to be affected by it. You don’t want them to start to feel any kind of anxiety or stress.
You have a unique perspective because you’re a business owner. What have been some of the conversations you’ve been having with your family, particularly with your sons?
I had a conversation with my 7-year-old in regards to what’s happening in the streets. I try to let him watch the news, so he’s been watching here and there in between cartoons. But, he started to ask questions in regards to what’s happening, like why are they protesting? Why did the policeman do that? Do all policemen look at us that way?
[My wife and I] had a 20-minute conversation trying to explain to him. It’s kind of hard because you don’t know where to start. There’s a timeline of our history and how it affects us today. It was an interesting conversation. You don’t know how it’s going to affect him because you don’t want him to now see the world through your eyes as a 48-year-old man.
As a father, our job is to try to shield them as much as possible to allow them to have a normal childhood. There’s that fear of did I say too much? How is he going to react to policemen? How is he going to view people who don’t look like him?
What does fatherhood mean to you?
I have to go back to a couple of the things my dad instilled in me, which is to always be a father, to always be a husband, and to always be a son. Just focus on those things and you’ll be able to raise a family.
The other thing that he told me, and I live by this, “Always take care of your mama.” (laughs)
If you had to think of a memorable dad moment, what would it be?
Every day is a memorable moment. As a Black man and being a father, we spend so much time in training mode. Two years from now, [my 16-year-old is] leaving the house and he HAS to be prepared, more so than any other race because we understand why. Every decision we make as a Black man has consequences, good or bad. It’s just the society we live in.