Our Fathers: Sha-Quill & KhyRin

Jean Messeroux (@JeanTheHueman) is a New York-licensed psychotherapist, photographer, creative director, and mental health educator. To redefine narratives of Black fatherhood, Jean launched a photography and interview series called Our Fathers in June 2017, which explores the complexities and nuances of Black fatherhood through conversations with fathers born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. You can learn more about Jean’s work at https://thehuemangallery.com/ and follow @HuemanFathers for more and upcoming parts of this series. We’d like to now introduce you to Our Fathers.

Our Fathers: Sha-Quill & KhyRin

“Growing up, my pops was in and out, but basically never there. He was in another state and I was here. He would call, once in a blue, but it would be no more than a minute on the phone. Mom dukes ain’t really have the funds to send me back and forth and he was on some junk, like, ‘well I ain’t gonna’ pay for it…but I learned to get over that at an early age. So my mother was my father. My grandmother too, and everybody around me. I just picked up things as I grew up and that was it. My mistakes also showed me what to do and what not to do. My father wasn’t around to show me so I learned on my own.”

“I graduated high school. Two years later I found out I was having a baby. I wasn’t working or anything. I was selling my lil’ weed to put some money in my pocket but it wasn’t nothing serious, you know. When I first found out I was having a son… I ain’t gon lie, I was scared. I was nervous. I was only twenty so I ain’t know what I was getting myself into. So I sat and thought about it. I was like, ‘you know what? What don’t break me makes me stronger.’ So right there I decided to man up and step up and it just put me on a positive path. I got my first job, got my license and since then I’ve just been grinding. I never looked back. Never turned back to the negative.”

“I can truly say that my father made me a better man. He made me the man I am today, being that I’m learning from his mistakes. It shaped my relationship with my son. Knowing that he wasn’t there pushes me harder in my relationship with my son. To have my son with me 24/7 and to do everything I can do to provide what I can. That’s what pushes me. What I think of the most is just, what can I do better for him? How can I provide him with a better education in the future? What can I do for him now that’s gonna’ better him in the future? That’s a thought every morning. Just striving for better. Not for myself but for my son.”

“The biggest lesson I want him to learn in life is the value of education. I want him to know that education is everything. I want him to be a better person than I am. If he does have kids..a better father. Everything better. I don’t want him to be on the same level as me, I want him to be better. I hope he goes to college. I don’t even care about what he studies, just as long as he goes. As long as he’s doing something positive.”

“I fear my son joining a gang. That lifestyle takes a lot away from people. Takes a lot away from families. Now you even got kids that come from good homes, mother and father in the same house, willing to do anything for them, and they’re still out here stealing and robbing. So with my son I’ll show him what I did to avoid all that.”

“The hardest part about being a father is doing it at a young age. It’s the hardest part, but it’s also the part that’s most fun. It’s exciting ’cause now it’s always, ‘I’ma do this, my son gon’ have this, my son gon’ have that. What can I do to get my son that?’ That’s the best part..but the hardest part about doing it at a young age is the criticism. You get a lot of doubt from people. They think, ‘Oh, he’s that young with a baby? What’s he doing to provide for that baby? Does he even take care of his son? He ain’t doing nothing. He’s probably selling drugs.’ It’s hard ’cause we’re stereotyped from the door. Stereotyped just ’cause we’re from the area. Stereotyped just because we’re African-American.You got a lot of young Black people that have like 4 or 5 kids and are not doing a single thing. And not to stab anybody in the back, but that’s just how it is these days. So, I try to paint a picture of myself in a way that they’ll see me different. See us different.”

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