In today’s podcast, we have an interview with Dr. Waldo Johnson from the University of Chicago, who was interviewed by our very own Dr. Kirk E Harris. What we wanted to do is provide the audio from that interview to our listening audience. Thank you and enjoy. You can find the full transcript here.
In this Episode, we are joined by Dr. Tiffany McDowell and Heather Parish to discuss the issues with family engagement and family strengthening. The topics discussed are:
- The resiliency of the Black Family
- The impact of historical and institutionalized racism
- Trauma related to our history in this country as an African American
- Our Value structure as a Black Family
- and more…
Dr. Waldo Johnson was interviewed by FFHC’s CEO, Dr. Kirk E. Harris for FFHC’s Father Engagement and Family Strengthening series. In the interview, Dr. Johnson shared his perspective on the history, status, challenges, and strengths of the Black family.
In this Episode, Ed Davies, the directer of Power of Fathers joins us to discuss the work he is conducting in our communities. Hosted by Dr. Kirk E Harris, this informative episode will expound upon how FFHC integrates with the Power of Fathers, and the collaborative work that is being progressed. Tune in!
FFHC’s Work with Jane Addams Resource Corporation
The Jane Addams Resource Corporation (JARC) held an On The Table discussion on January 27, 2017. Fifteen (15) men discussed issues surrounding the training they received to obtain manufacturing jobs and the constraints they face as members of the program. The men discussed what success for them would entail and how their successes could help JARC in the future. The men also discussed their roles and responsibilities in meeting their goals after successful completion of JARC’s program.
In this introductory podcast, Dr. Kirk Harris interviews Dr. Michael Bennett and Sequane Lawrence. They discuss the vision and purpose of Fathers Families & Healthy Communities. Topics include:
- History of Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities at DePaul
- History of FFHC Demonstration
- Importance of father engagement
- How FFHC advances the work of fatherhood and father engagement
I view my future as being bright. As long as I can support and provide for my children and keep them on the right path.
Growing up in Chicago’s Back of the Yards Neighborhood, Larry Morris recalls “a lot of drug-selling, drug usage, gang-banging and poverty.”
He contrasts those memories with the experience of first becoming a father. “Becoming a father was wonderful,” he says. He also, however, calls it “shocking and scary.”
Morris does odd jobs to provide for his children and their mothers; he has also played indoor professional football. He says his goal is “to get employment and be able to gain growth in a company.” “When I’m employed, I make my child support payments,” Morris says. “My experience with child support is that it accumulates real quick and fast.” He adds that child support should change its ways “just a little to make it feasible for the fathers trying and wanting to be in their child’s life.”
Morris often comes back to the theme of communication when talking about his relationship with the mothers of his children. “Our relationships are OK – we still have arguments from time to time. One thing I like to change is our communication. The biggest barrier to having a healthy working relationship is being on the same page.” Meanwhile, Morris describes his relationship with his “kids” as “fine.” “The biggest barrier I have for my children is not being there every day.”
Participating in FFHC activities, he says, has helped him address various barriers. “It made me do a lot of thinking,” he says of FFHC’s peer-to-peer activities. “I communicate better with the mother of my kids.”
“I view my future as being bright,” he adds. “As long as I can support and provide for my children and keep them on the right path.”
As statistics show, children without fathers in their home tend to go astray. It will affect all of us – even society as a whole.
Though he lived in a violent community while growing up, James Gilliam said his home was ”a pretty stable environment.” He also describes a life in which he became a father and was incarcerated – both before he turned 20.
Gilliam became a father at the age of 16. “I was excited because it was something new,” he says. “It was something different. It was something that I looked forward to doing successfully because my father wasn’t in my life. I told myself when I was a young boy that I would never abandon any of my children. When my baby was born, I was there every day, active in her life. I found out years later that she wasn’t mine. I was hurt but at the same time, I still see myself as a father to her.” Later, he had a son. “I’ve been in his life every day of his life,” he says.
At the age of 18, he was sent to prison. He regrets having been away from his daughter, but says the experience “made me stronger. It taught me how to turn a bad situation into a good one.” Though his path has been impacted by this experience, he says “I didn’t let that stop me.”
Gilliam, a construction worker who is currently unemployed, says his “credit has been shattered because of child support payments.” Like thousands of men in Illinois who pay child support, he contributes payments to a system that typically results in payments going to the state – not to the child (FFHC is working to change this situation). Gilliam says he has been persecuted by the state, and that his driver’s license has been suspended and passport revoked because of the state’s child support system. One result: he can’t work in many construction jobs because he doesn’t have a driver’s license. In addition, even though he is unemployed, he hasn’t been able to get a modification in his child care payments because mothers of his children haven’t appeared in court to approve the modification.
Regarding the state, Gilliam says “I don’t even know why they’re in my business anyway.” The way the system is set up, he says, “makes me feel like a second-rate dad.”
Meanwhile, Gilliam has very different relationships with the mother of his children. He has a good relationship with the mother of his son, but says his daughter’s mom doesn’t “allow me to be in my daughter’s life.” She has multiple children by multiple men…she didn’t have a healthy relationship with her dad. It’s not important to her.” He says he is trying to get visitation rights and joint custody “because daughters need their fathers as well.” While he has a strong relationship with his son – “we do things every day together” – he hasn’t talked to his daughter or seen her in three years.
Gilliam, however, has found an outlet for his concerns through Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities. He calls it “a great organization” that is assisting fathers as they get “our rights together.” For him, that means advocating for a child support system that is more geared to children and families and enhancing his ability to see his children “when they want to see me.”
Despite the barriers he faces, Gilliam says he “sees a prosperous future….as long as he is able to lift this destructive force that the child support system has become in my life.” His observations – and hopes — are not just based on personal experience, but data. “As statistics show, children without fathers in their home tend to go astray,” he says. “It will affect all of us – even society as a whole.”
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