Dr. Khalid White is an Ethnic Studies Professor and the Umoja Academic Success Program Coordinator at San Jose City College. He is also a Lecturer in African American Studies, at San Jose State University.
Khalid recently authored the book, Black Fatherhood: Trials & Tribulations, Testimony & Triumph. The book explores contemporary relationship and parenting scenarios faced by 14 different fathers and families in the San Francisco Bay Area. Khalid is the owner of BLKMPWR (Black Empower), LLC. The independent, multi-media company endeavors to create “Meaningful, message-bearing merchandise and Conscious, counter-narrative content”. www.blkmpwr.com
Charles Clark: Thank Dr. White for having this conversation with me today!
Dr. Khalid White: Thank you for what you are doing in terms of putting out some positive images and imagery for us as African American men. I appreciate that so, I am happy to be apart.
CC: Thank you sir. So my first question is easy !!! Who is Dr. Khalid White?
KW: Dr. Khalid White is a child of God, firstly. A man that loves people, cultures not things and possessions. I am a father, husband, educator, author, and entrepreneur. But I am also a person that loves to learn, loves to do and loves to work with youth and young adults. I’m multi-faceted; this really is a tough question as there is no 1 answer to provide or a short answer to give.
CC: What drives the work that you do on behalf of African American young men?
KW: I’m driven to do the work I do on behalf of Black men because I am one myself. So the passion I have is both personal as well as professional. I am blessed in that my passion is intertwined with my professional job. But on top of that, I am compelled to work with Black men and boys because a lot of Black men worked with me as a youngster. Helped to mold and shape me. They “Paid it forward”. So, I’m just bringing it full circle.
And another reason why I work on behalf of Black men and boys is that we get so maligned in the mainstream media and popular culture. We are treated and viewed in some of the most damaging ways possible. So, I am here to help provide some different images to what Black men can be and can become. I am part of the counter-narrative and I relish that position and don’t take it lightly. I want to help project black men and young men in the most positive of lights, when given the opportunity. We rarely get portrayed positively.
CC: Tell me about your book Black Fatherhood: Trials & Tribulations, Testimony & Triumph.
KW: The book, Black Fatherhood: Trials & Tribulations, Testimony & Triumph is a compendium (a collection of stories). It includes 14, unique, first-person narratives of Black fathers and families in the San Francisco Bay Area. The book showcases 12 men and 2 women (14 people total). The stories told reflect the common scenarios that Black men across the nation find themselves in.
Whether it’s parenting a child out of state, parenting a child who is not your biological child, being a dad to kids from multiple women, raising bi-racial kids, surviving family court and child support drama, a father who is a celebrity/entertainer and how to balance that world, a stay at home dad, etc. There are several parenting and relationship scenarios presented in the book.
Black Fatherhood is not a “how to” book but a book that shows the brilliance of the men and women within it. It shows their vulnerability, their tests, their successes and provides insight to the millions of others who are facing the same sets of challenges. If the people in the book are making it work, then those inspired by their stories can make it work too!
CC: What are the misconceptions about black fathers?
KW: the biggest misconceptions about Black fathers are that we aren’t present in the lives of our kids. Or more precisely, we don’t want to remain present in the lives of our kids. And I know that to be the furthest thing from the truth, both in my life and in the lives of a bunch of Brothers who have kids.
In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) conducted research over a few years and reported that Black fathers are more actively engaged in their kids’ lives than White and Hispanic dads. This is shocking to some. But this is the CDC’s research, not mine. I’m just helping to report the truths that I know with the Black Fatherhood book.
Now, are there Black men missing from their kids’ lives and from their community? Absolutely. Are there those that choose not to be involved in their kids’ lives? Absolutely. has there been an assault on the Black man and family since we arrived to this nation? Absolutely. Was the “War on Drugs” and Mass Incarceration a continuation of that assault on the Black family and Black America? Absolutely.
There are powerful socio-political and media-driven factors that exacerbate the case of the “missing Black father”. And those factors have left a lot of homes broken. But, I’m of the opinion that this “Hip-Hop Generation” is taking the stance that we are proud fathers and want to reclaim that position. Case in point, you’ll see Jay-Z front row with his daughter at the games. Ice Cube put his son in position to play a lead role in a blockbuster film. Stephen Curry’s adorable little girl is at the podium with him during the playoffs. So forth and so on… There is reclamation of the position of loving, Black father that is heavy and it’s real.
CC: The book trailer really had me reflect on mentorship. Even though I had a great father and had uncles and grandfather and because I was a PK and mean around; but because I could sing most of my mentors early on was female to enhance the gift I was given. Is that normal?
KW: As far as mentorship goes, a young man can have a female mentor. I’ve a few. Dr. Siri Brown, Dr. Ruth Wilson, Dr. Jeanne Wilson, Dr. Elaine Burns, Dr. Gloria Rodriguez, are just a few that come to mind, as professional educators. So, no, it’s not abnormal for us as men to learn from female mentors. The first mentor and teacher is Mama. That goes across race and gender.
CC: How important is the mentorship of our young brotha’s today?
KW: But, for Black males we HAVE to have other Black men to pour into us. Whether it’s a coach, a Pastor, an Imam, an Uncle, Dad, community worker; So we can see a bit of ourselves in the future-tense. The numerous male mentors and role models I had and still have, are Black men that I could pattern myself after, take tips from and emulate, in order to create a future for myself. They weren’t always right, or always politically correct or the most enlightened, but they were mentors. Black boys need positive Black men to mentor them. And peer to peer mentorship and leadership is also extremely important. I am a 100% believer in that. Iron sharpens Iron. We need to sharpen ourselves in the same way.
CC: Do you feel we as a country have had a real conversation on race? I ask that because more and more I feel that black men are dehumanized. And the at dehumanization started with slavery and the effects are still prevalent today?
KW: No, I don’t believe the US has had or wants to have a real conversation about race. Just look at the general reaction every time the word “reparations” is brought up for Black people. Racism is alive and well and is ingrained in the fabric of the Nation’s flag, it’s policies and it’s social interactions. The only catch is that one race benefits from it while all others suffer from the ills of racism. Most Whites don’t have to think about, deal with or concern themselves with race or racism because the American system is geared for their benefit. It’s just the facts. White privilege is what that is called.
Unfortunately, the factual history of the USA includes the dehumanization of Blacks. That hasn’t gone away. It’s just been changed to fit the cultural times. And, some of the insanity and pathology, in terms of the ways in which we’ve been treated in America, we’ve learned, internalized and repeated against ourselves.
CC: What can we do to change it?
KW: To change our condition in America, we have to change our minds first and foremost. It’s up to us to make a concerted effort, collectively, to change the ways in which we think about ourselves and the ways in which we think about other Black people. I am beginning to see changes too! But there is a scripture, Be not conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. That sums it up for me. When we can change our thinking, our feelings and actions will change. Thoughts, feelings, actions are all tied together. It’s Cognitive Behavior Theory.
The assault against our minds and self esteem, self image has gone on so much and for so long, we’ve internalized that. We’ve thought ourselves as lesser than the image of God in which we were created. It’s time for that to change. We are the originators of brilliance, beauty and intelligence, as people of African descent. That can’t be disputed. Knowing these things can enhance our self concept.
CC: What’s next for Dr. Khalid White?
KW: For me, the next steps are to keep putting out “Conscious, counter-narrative content” and “Meaningful, message-bearing merchandise”. I’m a creator at heart. So, I will never stop creating. Whether it’s writing books or articles, whether it is creating fashion and accessories, Whether it is making films or public speaking endeavors. I do all of these to keep my creative juices going. And, again, I am blessed because my passion and profession are intertwined so it’s not a huge jump for me. I am going to keep continuing to support Black-owned, minority-owned, independent businesses. I am going to keep being a voice for the people and keep educating. I feel like I am just beginning to hit my stride. I am inspired by Brothers like you that are doing indie, community-based endeavors. I want to be able to celebrate 8 years of inspiration, like Brotha Magazine! So, with that I’m just gonna keep pushing, keep praying, and keep my pen sharp!