Powerful conversations happen around the dinner table. The dinner table has provided a space for family, friends and acquaintances to speak whatever is on their heart. The good, the bad and the ugly are all laid out on the table. These conversations are powerful and we have decided to manifest them in a new Narrative and photo series called “Dinner Party”. Our first set of stories and images are in a setting in collaboration with Gather Seattle - a Seattle based company that brings together the PNW food and design communities. They host gatherings in various restaurants, shops and homes in and around Seattle with an aim to build connections, inspire and nourish.
Our first set of stories circles around men. There are very few settings when you see men gathering around the table sharing their thoughts. There is so much value in men connecting with each other in this capacity. Just ask our third table guest: Brandon Williams. Senior Actuarial Consultant by day, single father by...always.
Read our interview with Brandon as he discusses black fatherhood as a single parent and the things he worries about raising a black son in America as well as hearing from him some of the misconceptions he would like to dispel about black fathers.
I absolutely HATE hearing what people say when I tell them that I raise my son and that he lives with me. Usually, the first few questions I get are: “Does he really live with you?” And I respond, “Yes, he really does live with me.” Lol.
A little about me....
I am a proud father of one, Christian Terrell Williams who I have the pleasure of raising, so my schedule is super packed with AAU Basketball, soccer practice and drum lessons. My interests are NBA Basketball, watching my Memphis Grizzlies, spending time with my son and making sure I’m emotionally available and mentoring his growth as a young man. I absolutely love traveling abroad. I try to do two or three international trips a year with my son or solo if possible. I also enjoy being outdoors, no matter the capacity, it’s genuinely cool to me to be outside and enjoy nature. I also starting trying cooking classes! They’re pretty fun if you have the right people to go with. I’m also a member of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church and I am a part of the Witnessing Workers which enables me and members of the church to go into the city of Houston and just simply give back and volunteer. I enjoy a good book too. My current read right now is “Shocking The Conscience”. Lastly, I enjoy spending time with my family. Getting to Memphis is more of a priority in my life now as my grandfather passed away last year and my grandmother is home a lot by herself now.
What is the biggest lesson that fatherhood has taught you?
The biggest lesson for me as a single father is patience, time management, and to be more nurturing. I say patience essentially because I can easily expect my son to know things after I tell him something but the reality is, Christian is still a child and I have to react in a way that welcomes his development as a person. Yet, I am stern but I have to understand he is still learning and what really grounds me as a parent is putting myself in his shoes and how my parents treated me when I was his age. Time management is something I’m continually learning everyday, but our days are literally either on schedule or a blur, lol. Monday – Friday I work from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm, he goes to after school care until 6:15 pm where I pick him and he either heads to basketball practice, soccer practice or drum lessons. This is every day for me and once practice is over we of course have study sessions where homework is being completed and of course he has to eat, lol. So all in all, I try to have him in the bed no later than 9:30pm on a good night. I travel a lot for work and I have to give a huge shout out to my mother who resides in Houston, TX as well. She is instrumental in helping us when I’m out of town or I’m just simply running late picking him up from a late meeting, so I have to give a huge shout out to my mother who does a lot to help me. Lastly, I say nurturing because growing up I wasn’t the most emotional person, nor did I genuinely know how to communicate my feelings growing up, so when my son was born I was adamant about talking to him about his feelings, asking him is there anything I can do as his father to make sure he has everything he needs to be successful in life. I wanted to approach my son the way my grandparents approached me: unconditional love, listen first, ask questions later, overall treat him like the person I want him to be in society.
What are the common misconceptions you would love to dispel about being a black, single parent?
That black men aren’t in their child’s lives. I absolutely HATE hearing what people say when I tell them that I raise my son and that he lives with me. Usually, the first few questions I get are, “Does he really live with you?” And I respond, “Yes, he really does live with me.” Lol. Black men have historically been “removed” from the home, either due to “slavery”, or “The War on Drugs” when black families could only be eligible if a “Black Man” was not in the home, so I understand the bearings that come with the misconception. But I think this narrative that black men don’t support their kids or aren’t in their children’s lives, to me is “hogwash” and of course I’m talking about my tribe of friends who are fathers and 100% of them are extremely active and present in their child’s life. I just think fatherhood not only “Black Fatherhood” should be appreciated more. Father’s Day isn't hyped up as much as Mother’s Day lol. If you know an awesome Father who is going above and beyond just take the moment to tell him you appreciate him; it means the world to us.
What are some of the fears that you have for your son as a young, black child growing up in America?
There are a plethora of fears that I have, but the biggest is the talk we have had already with him being 9 years old, and how we should approach being pulled over. I’ve taught him, the I-pad gets put down, I cut the car off, roll all windows down, our hands are out the window to put the officer at ease to let him know that we are trying to be compliant and essentially put the officer at ease. It’s sad that this has to happen but, we all know this is our reality and “Driving while Black” has happened to me a couple of times. To be honest, I know how my son is being viewed when he leaves our home and into the world as uneducated, aggressive and hyper-sexual. My son was recently shamed for being black and instead of reacting harshly towards the kid and his parents, I took a moment, calmed down and explained to him about “Our History” where he came from, Black is beautiful, He is beautiful, being black and smart is cool as fuck and that he should embrace being an African – American and there is absolutely nothing wrong with being black and African –Americans have built this country, through infrastructure, arts, science, inventions, food and etc of things.
Being a black man in America means...
"I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. . . . Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation about. No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife." -Zora Neale Hurston
"I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me." - Muhammad Ali
You’ve read the narrative, now use it as inspiration! Shop “Dinner Series: Black Fatherhood” below.