Nominated by David L. Chaplin
By Eddie Velazquez
Q: What did it feel like when you first became a father?
A: It felt like a huge responsibility but obviously a great deal of happiness and honor at the same time. It was a time when I really wanted to take account, stay focused and be the best father I could be for my children.
Q: What can you share about your children?
A: I am a father to three daughters: Isis Mitchell, 19, Mahoniss Graham, 15, and Lamya Mitchell, 10. Isis is studying to become a nurse at Onondaga Community College, focusing on helping people, and my two youngest are in high school and elementary school.
Q: How do you co-parent successfully?
A: We try to set up activities, moments and memories. We also like to go on vacation and trips outdoors. We like to go to recreational parks and lakes. I just like being with my family as much as possible in between work.
Q: Quality time seems to be the key …
A: Yes, and it is all about being intentional in planning those moments. It is key. It is not just about those moments and memories happening, but it’s about being intentional about setting them up.
Q: What was your relationship like with your father?
A: There are a lot of different memories and topics that come to mind, but it was generally very healthy. As I got older, I really came to appreciate his leadership, his profession — he was a pastor — and all the things he taught me. All of these things have really taught me to be a successful parent.
Q: Did he or others have advice that stuck with you?
A: I cannot think of any one particular phrase, but just his faith in God, in church and community, as well as his character. All of that just really rubbed off on me. But his faith is probably the biggest thing I incorporated.
Q: As a father, is there anything that you do that would surprise people?
A: I don’t think it is outside the norm, but for us, it is about being very intentional in setting up those special moments we share together. No matter how much patience it may take or how many resources it may take. I naturally enjoy doing that, and it leads to having really healthy relationships with your kids.
Q: What is your opinion about commonly held stereotypes about Black fathers?
A: To me, negative stereotypes boil down to human beings highlighting others’ flaws. It does not really set the tone for anyone else’s household. For me, when I hear those types of things, it makes me want to reinforce the type of father I want to be.
Q: Any advice for first-time dads?
A: Be prepared to have a lot of patience, learn how to set an example for them and work as hard as you can to be involved.
Q: Is there a special tradition you have with your family?
A: Before all these changes with COVID-19, we always liked to travel to places with warm weather during December. We’ve enjoyed that for the last few years.
Eddie Velazquez is a freelance reporter in Central New York. You can share news tips with him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @ezvelazquez