Hope For Our Black Fathers

Our stories help us discover our personal beliefs that help shape who we are.  Through tons of self reflection and insight we become resilient in the challenges that we face throughout our lifetime. Our ability to grow through what we go through helps us create opportunities to persevere through our trials and tribulations and make room for more purpose and celebration. Dear Father’s created by Jesse Alex and Lamaar Johnson Jr, and Str-8 Mental created by Brian Edwards have used these platforms as a way to shift the narratives and develop solutions for the personal difficulties they have faced. We had the opportunity to interview Jesse Alex and Brad Edwards to discuss more about their companies and how the interested can get involved.

 

dear fathersJesse Alex and Lamar Johnson Jr., Co-Founders 

 

Question: Can you give me a brief description of what dear fathers and str8 mental is about.

Answer: Dear Fathers is the premiere media platform for black fatherhood. We dedicate our time to telling stories of black fathers from all angles through various storytelling series, shows, podcasts, and more.

Since we have this large engaging community of black men/fathers, we wanted to also be able to provide them with tangible resources to become better men. That’s what led to STR8 Mental, creating a safe space for black men to be connected to black male therapists in a group setting with men that look like them. A space to unpack, fellowship, learn, grow, and heal with one another.

-Jesse Alex, Co-Founder

 

I have come to realize that one of the biggest challenges most black men have to face is putting on a façade that tells the world that they are unbreakable. That is a huge weight for anyone to carry considering all of the things we are up against daily. The problem is that with black men, they have always had to work twice as hard to prove their worth and based on the history of the African American man, weakness is simply not something that is tolerated. I can see how the pressure to be superhuman can be the very thing that causes mental trauma. They too have problems and emotions that need to process and remove from their psyche. Then they are faced with the question of who they share those vulnerabilities with. Most men want to be looked at as the solution to the problem, so sharing their problems is generally out of the question. With all of this in mind, I am more than excited that Dear Fathers and Str8 mental is addressing that problem with a solution that I feel will really help our black men and change their lives for the better.

 

Question: What was your motivation behind creating dear fathers?

Answer: Dear Fathers was created by myself and our other Co-Founder Lamar Johnson Jr. because we both grew up without real fatherhood experiences. As we got older, we started to unpack the impact of that a lot more and wanted to create a platform to help others, as well as ourselves. We felt storytelling was the true component when it came to changing the narrative and shifting the culture.

-Jesse Alex, Co-Founder

 

Question: What was your motivation behind creating str8 mental?

Answer: Coming into the pandemic it was clear that the African American community would be affected more than any other community. We lack a ton of resources, one of which is access to mental health providers and information about therapy. Through Str8 Mental we are able to break the stigmas behind therapy by not only educating our community about different issues we face and how to heal from them, but most importantly exposing them to their first time speaking with a therapist.

-Brad Edwards, Community Organizer

dear fathers 2Brad Edwards, Community Organizer

 

The pandemic was one of the most challenging times that most of us have experienced within our lifetime. In the African American community, mental therapy had been frowned upon more than it has ever been utilized. Our culture has been taught to sweep problems under the rug and keep all family business within the family. Our culture has been taught to stay quiet, quit talking, and keep going. As much as we may have hated the pandemic, it has created an avenue for the world to be honest about who they are and what they are going through. The pandemic served as a moment of reflection and opportunity to address and admit vulnerability by stripping the world from all of the regular outlets we utilized to cover up and run away from the internal pain or discomfort that we all were experiencing.

 

Question: How can an interested party get involved with str8 mental?

Answer: Whether you are an interested therapist or a brother seeking to joining the discussion you can visit our website and select the St8 Mental tab or email our community organizer Brad Edwardsat brad@dearfathers.com. From there we can give you the links to join our sessions or provide you with resources that can aid in finding the right therapist for you. If you are a provider you can join our network or find out how to become a guest host on Str8 Mental.

-Brad Edwards, Community Organizer

 

Question: How can an interested party get involved with dear fathers?

Answer:

Follow us on IG – https://www.instagram.com/dear.fathers/
Tell your fatherhood story – https://dearfathers.com/1000-fearless-fathers-submit-your-story/

Join Dear Fathers – https://dearfathers.com/join/

Donate to our Causes – https://dearfathers.com/donate/

Listen to our Podcast – https://dearfathers.com/podcast/

-Jesse Alex, Co-Founder 

 

From what I have witnessed, most people want to get help but don’t know where to look for it. Jesse, Lamaar, and Brian have created that space for our black men. The platforms are growing daily and getting the true coverage that we all have been looking for. It is up to us as a community to spread the word and get more of our men involved. We have to change the narrative and show the world that getting the proper help, helps us all. Mental health should be our focus, it is important that we address that in order to be and live up to our greatest potential. If we want the world to be better, we first have to be better.

 

Question: Can you tell us what someone would expect with being involved with Str8 Mental?

Answer: You can expect to find an instant bond and sense of fellowship that you wouldn’t expect immediately from complete strangers. You can expect to find that you are not the only person facing whatever challenges that you felt alone in. The authenticity in these sessions is something you will definitely feel from the beginning.

-Brad Edwards, Community Organizer

 

Most of us tend to be more visual creatures, and it takes a lot of courage to admit we may be in need of help. The last thing we want to do is take a leap toward acquiring the help we need and end up regretting our decision because it wasn’t what we expected. We have a general idea of the level of help we wish to receive. Take a look at these videos below to get an idea of what being involved with Str8 Mental could look like for you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaVsU23rTh0

 

Question: Do the projects co-exist or do they work independently?

Answer: They co-exist. Dear Fathers is the main platform that STR8 Mental lives under, but over time STR8 Mental has grown a brand of its own which is dope!

-Jesse Alex, Co-Founder

 

Most of us find ourselves asking, Why do we do the things that we do?  What are the things that help us feel fulfilled and accomplished. Finding a resolution for the problems we face is the very thing that helps the world evolve. It helps us find answers to the questions we pose to ourselves daily. Most find that in helping others, they in turn receive a lot of the help they needed for themselves. Helping others essentially helps ourselves.

 

Question: What was the most fulfilling part of this project for you? Why?

Answer: The most fulfilling part of St8 Mental is watching men taking a first step towards healing. The moment when we can see a guy realize that others are facing the same struggles or have already overcome them is powerful. Because Black men often suffer in silence there aren’t many opportunities for us to have these types of interactions and know that we are not alone in these situations. It means the world to see all of these complete strangers coming together to uplift one another and strengthen each other, this is what it truly means to be a Black man.

-Brad Edwards, Community Organizer

 

Question: What was the most fulfilling part of this project for you? Why?

Answer: Dear Fathers – Having stories of black men/fathers and doing the work to control our own narrative changes lives. As men, we’ve mostly been taught to withhold our feelings, emotions, etc. So having a space where men openly share their stories is powerful.

-Jesse Alex, Co-Founder

 

Finding different ways to expand on our vision can be quite challenging. However, from the looks of things these men with Dear Fathers and Str8 Mental are ready with a plan. I think it may be a good idea to keep up with what they are doing and what we could look forward to seeing from them in the future. These men are able to inspire a new perspective that could save a lot of not only our black men, but our black families too. Let’s see what they have in store.

 

Question: Where do you want these ventures to go and what do you hope will come from them?

Answer: It is my goal that we become one of the leading platforms when it comes to Black men and mental health awareness and resources. When we begin to provide Black men the proper tools and resources needed to address traumas and begin the healing process it ultimately strengthens the entire household and the community.

-Brad Edwards, Community Organizer

 

Question: What’s next? Is there anything else that you would like to share with the world?

Answer: We are planning to host retreats and take this project on the road to spread awareness. It has been a blessing to be able to start and sustain this movement virtually, but to be able to gather brothers in person and bond in that way will be next level. The one thing I have to share is this, we often look at vulnerability as a weakness and that is far from the reality. It takes pure strength to recognize that you need help and to take the steps to get it.

-Brad Edwards, Community Organizer

dear fathers 3As we honor our fathers around the world, there could not have been a better time to highlight a way to make sure our men get exactly what they need. To change the world, we have to change ourselves. If you haven’t already signed up to keep up with the latest from Dear Fathers, or Str8 Mental, I would suggest that you do so now.

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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !