This Father's Day, Hear From These Black Dads Who Are Hoping For A Better Future For Their Sons
London McBride is a youth pastor and a detective for the UCLA Police Department. But his most important job is raising five Black sons.
"So it's a sad day when I have to teach them how to talk to my so-called partners out there," McBride said. "It shouldn't be that way."
McBride was among the Black dads marching through Crenshaw Saturday for Black Lives Matter. A drumline led dozens down Martin Luther King Boulevard to Obama Boulevard, where protesters rallied in a strip mall. They carried signs supporting Black fathers and condemning racism and police brutality.
The event spotlighting Black fathers was a call to dads themselves and society to recognize their value to the family and the community.
Like McBride, Rondell Eskridge is also a youth pastor -- and a brand-new dad to an 8-month-old son, his namesake. Lately, he said he's been thinking a lot about Black fatherhood, and how mass incarceration has decimated families.
"If you really want to break a people down, what do you have to do? The first thing you got to do is remove the men," Eskridge said. "If you do, that community will not just be broken down for that generation, but for generations to come."
High school teacher Jay Spriggs of Temecula said he's always taught his son, who is Black and Mexican, not to see race.
"But unfortunately, this time and age, it forced us to enlighten him," Spriggs said. "And he's now getting exposed to what the world is."
Lead march organizer James Mackey, a college counselor, said that parents need to be in charge of their children's education.
"Never leave the total education of your children to our school system. It's a roll of the dice," Mackey said. "There are things the school system will not teach your children -- how to survive."
Below, hear directly from these four fathers about what they envision for their children. [Note: Interviews have been shortened and edited for clarity.]
- UCLA Police Department detective and youth pastor
- Father to five sons
I tell (my sons) you can do anything, regardless of what society tells you, or how people make you feel. And yeah, you do sometimes have the deck stacked against you. But that means nothing. I don't care what they want to do in life. I just want them to do the best at everything and they can achieve it.
The only way it's going to get better for our sons is if we honestly work together. I'm talking about police and the community.
What happened to George Floyd was definitely a tragedy and it did spark something in the nation. But now this is the test. Are we really going to do what we said we're going to do? And that comes within communities, and especially with law enforcement. That was the worst video I've ever seen in my life. I mean, it was heartbreaking. After all the protests, we have to really now put boots on the ground and go and do what we said we're going do or do nothing.
I'm an optimist. I believe if we sow the seeds of love with our children and teach them about equality and about love and grace, and respect, then we basically squeeze racism out of the picture. But we might not see it in our lifetimes. It might be our kids reaping the benefits of what we start right now. But it has to start now.
- Youth pastor at Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood
- First-time father to an 8-month-old son
My wife had just had (our son) and I had to go to Ohio for a conference. I started watching this movie on the plane which I was afraid to watch. It's If Beale Street Could Talk. It's about black families, right? And what happens in the movie is the father's son gets accused of raping a woman, and he was on the other side of town when it happened. And he still went to jail. He still gets convicted. As I'm watching the movie on the plane, I'm sitting next to a little white lady. And I'm about 6' 3 and I burst out into tears more than halfway through the movie. And I can't stop crying. And I'm crying for two reasons. One, because I see the beauty that is being portrayed through the movie, the beauty of blackness and family and how they cultivate each other. But on the other hand, as a first-time father, I could see that the father in the movie felt helpless. He felt like there was nothing he could do to help his son.
It's my job as a father to provide and to protect my son. And what do you do when you cannot do that? You feel hopeless as a man, right? So that's why we're out here. That's why we got to talk to our friends. That's why we got to mentor the youth. That's why we have to be good dads. We have to change the next generation. I can't see my son get pulled over and have drugs planted in his car, and there's nothing I can do.
- Temecula high school teacher
- Father to an 18-year-old son
My son just turned 18 and graduated high school and this is the new society that is developing and I want him to understand that it's important to be a leader in the community.
I'll be honest with you. Me and my wife -- my wife's Mexican, I'm black -- we actually raised our son not to even see race. But unfortunately, this time and age, it forced us to enlighten him. And he's just now getting exposed to what the real world is. I think we shouldn't have sheltered him so much. And if I were to do this all over again, I would have started earlier.
It's not going to be a perfect world. So that's why we're going have to get him sped up real fast. I wish I would have told him about a lot of the history of the country and why does our government function the way it does, why our leaders choose the decisions they do. But we don't have to lose hope. Look at what happened in the last three months of this country. Then go back 50 years ago, back in the 60's and the civil rights movement, look how far we've come. It's a progression.
- Counselor at Los Angeles Southwest College
- Father to a daughter and two sons
I have an older daughter. Her name is Jasmine. I had her when I was 16, 16 1/2 years old -- when I was still in high school. Very, very tough to raise a child when you're still essentially a child. But I definitely learned my lesson.
What we need to do first and foremost is we need to raise our children in that family structure and emphasize the importance of family. I always tell students if there's one thing you're going to take away from me, please keep your family together. It's important for men to create our families, to lead our families and to teach and educate our families.
I know that the wisdom that my wife and I are putting into my sons' lives, that it's going to go a long way. The protests and our children's understanding the significance of the protests -- I think that they're going to grow up in a much better community, a much better society, much better world that we have grown up in.
READ OUR RACE IN LA SERIES
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- Conflicted: A Black Journalist's Reckoning With Her Race, Family And Police Brutality
- How to participate in this series