One-On-One with Kenneth Braswell, Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated
Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): What inspired you to begin this wonderful organization, Father’s Incorporated? Was there a turn of events that brought about its establishment?
Kenneth Braswell (KB): The initial turn of event is something very personal. It was the custody battle with the mother of my second daughter.
It made me really think about what was transpiring here and how this particular institution is impacting how we raise both our boys and our girls. At the same time that this was taking place, I was going through a relationship breakup, and I found myself extremely depressed not wanting to do much at all. Within about 7 hours I had a perspective on Father’s Incorporated.
At the time, I just wanted to do the work of fathers and understand the child support system. Over the years I’ve learned that this particular work is about so much more than just the mechanics of what takes place in the courtroom.
EM: With that being said, why do you think in 2012 with all of the avenues of communication that we take part in via talk shows, radio programs, social media, etc. that we still find it difficult to discuss this types of issues?
KB: I think that most people are in the midst of so much emotional pain now that we are literally walking through life hoping it would go away, because it’s too much to deal with.
On one end, we find ourselves in these situations because we both love our children, yet, at the same time that is not enough for us to get over what happens in mix of that and in respect to our personal relationships.
It’s always a constant battle around who loves our children the most or which one of us hates the other the most, and that’s a very difficult emotional thing to ride through, and our children are right in the middle of all that emotional chaos. The parents do not understand how they’re impacting the emotional well-being of their children.
Therefore, to your question, I just think that we’re in so much emotional pain right now, walking around not really understanding how we’re feeling about what we’re going through, and those things really drive the actions that we find ourselves in with respect to not finding a comfortable place to do the right thing for our children.
EM: On November 16, 2012 Father’s Inc. is hosting a CODE BLUE campaign “It’s Time to TALK! A Call for community Healing, Faith, Family and Fatherhood”. As you said it’s not just a male issue it’s a family issue. What has the response been like from women and from the youth? Are they also invited to this event or is it a men’s only forum?
KB: It’s a community healing, but any and everything that Father’s Incorporated does would always be the limb of fatherhood. We know that father absentee and fatherlessness contributes to a lot of our emotional problems in our community not only with men, but those emotional problems impact the mothers of the children and then it impacts the children. Therefore, what we want to be able to do is open up community dialogue to talk about what we’re struggling with as a community.
Why are we having it in a church? Well the theme of our Code Blue campaign is “A Call for community Healing, Faith, Family and Fatherhood”; therefore, one of the things we know as a people is that faith has always been our solution to mental health. Whenever we are going through our issues in our community we’ve been told to “pray about it and read some scriptures”. Although this is one solution to help us mentally, this is not the only solution. We want to make sure that opening up this dialogue interprets that they (ministers) not only understand their role in helping the folks in their congregation but that the people in their community understand that while church can help them with some aspect in mental health they (ministers) are not specifically trained to help people who are dealing with deep depression and mental illness.
EM: Thank you very much for your time and much success to you and Father’s Incorporated!
KB: Thank you for allowing me to share!
“IT’S TIME TO TALK! Fathers Incorporated’s CODE BLUE is a call for community healing. No longer can we afford to sit sideline and allow taboo topics affecting the African-American family and community in mass continue to fester – the mental health of low-income communities and how we’re feeling and coping with the issues faced by African-American people in America. The objective for Fathers Incorporated is to initiate open dialog that bring together men, woman, youth, faith based institutions, resources and services.
Kenneth Braswell, Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated – a nonprofit national organization committed to responsible fatherhood, eliminating fatherlessness and increasing the commitment of men to take active roles within their children’s lives and/or being a mentor. As a resounding and vibrant voice, he is leading the charge. Braswell also serves as the Director of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC).
Date: November 16, 2012
Event: Fathers Incorporated presents CODE BLUE: A Call for Community Healing
Location: St. Paul Community Baptist Church – 859 Hendrix Street, Brooklyn NY
Kenneth Braswell – Executive Director of Fathers Incorporated/Director of National Responsible Fatherhood Clearing House/Author of “When the Tear Won’t Fall”
Terrie Williams – Best-selling Author of “Black Pain”/ President & CEO of The Terrie Williams Agency
Rev. David K. Brawley – Senior Pastor/Host of St. Paul Community Baptist Church
David Miller, Moderator – Chief Visionary Officer & Co-Founder of Urban Leadership Institute
Dr. Janet Taylor – “The Jeremy Kyle Show”
Dr. Sidney Hankerson – NY State Psychiatric Center
Dr. Jeff Gardere – “Love & Hip-Hop Show”
Learn more about Father’s Inc. at www.fathersincorporated.com
Follow Kenneth Braswell on Twitter @FathersIncorp