Fort Worth, Texas,
18
June
2020
|
06:34 PM
America/Chicago

'The Burden I feel Is Heavy:' A Black Father Raising a Black Son in America

By Ramon Kinloch, M.D.

A tie. A pair of slippers. Cuff links. A wallet. What do these things have in common? They’re all examples of gifts that I have given to my dad for Father’s Day. This year will be a little bit different because, for the first time, I will be celebrating Father’s Day with my own son! Now I’m not expecting those types of gifts from him—yet *wink* (he’s turning 1 in July), but the best gift my son can give me is his presence.

Being a dad is awesome! I think it’s great to be able to look at your little one and let your imagination run wild with thoughts about what their personality will be like, what sports they will be good at, what instrument they will play and so on. So far, the best thing has been hearing my son say “dada” and knowing that he actually understands who I am. Add to that him reaching out with his arms for me to pick him up when I come home, and it just melts my heart every day.

Then reality sinks in.

I want to be able to say I’m excited and looking forward to having a fun-filled day as a first time Dad, full of surprise gifts. But there’s a part of me that won’t allow me to engage with that emotion fully. Recent events that reignited the fight against racial injustice have again highlighted that not only am I a Black man in America, but I am a Black father raising a Black son in America. The burden I feel is HEAVY.

I was fortunate to grow up with a loving dad who was always full of encouragement. But I absolutely remember those conversations about how others would perceive me because of my darker skin—inferior, worthless, ignorant, threatening. That I would always have to work twice as hard and minimize mistakes to have any shot at being successful. And even still, with all of the education and accolades I could achieve, I would NEVER be looked at or thought of as being equal because I would ALWAYS be Black.

Even now, being a pediatrician, I generally feel that I’ve been successful and defied the odds. I’m blessed and thankful to be able to serve my families and I truly view myself as an extension of their families. I’ve also been fortunate to feel embraced by all of my patient-families, the majority of who are White. I know that I’m going to give my absolute best day in and day out for each child, but there are times where I wonder if I make a mistake, will I be viewed as incompetent because of my skin color? And then no longer have patients?

The burden and sadness I feel come from knowing that one day I will have to teach my son those same lessons I was taught growing up (30+ years later!). All the while worrying every day whether or not the lessons have sunk in. More so, worrying about whether or not he is suffering hurt, harm or being placed in danger because he is a Black male. I have already been praying for his safety and God’s protection as he grows up in this world. Despite these weighty feelings and emotions, despite knowing that there are people who don’t want to see me succeed because I’m Black, and despite knowing that having a white coat doesn’t protect my Black skin from experiencing injustice; I will still continue to serve with a smile. And I will be sure to have a smile on my first Father’s Day.

Advice to other dads:

Since these unprecedented times have basically forced us to slow down and take a step back, I think the first thing we should do as fathers is honest self-reflection and meditation (Have I been a good dad? What am I teaching my kid(s)? How could I do better?). Next, I would say eliminate the fear of showing emotions.

As a father/husband, I believe some of the most constructive times have been when I’ve shown my loved ones that I too can be vulnerable. Don’t worry, your little one will still see you as Superman! Last, give your kids a little extra love, especially during these days of uncertainty and conflict. They are probably just as stressed, scared and confused.

No need to wait for them to tell you how they’re feeling, just go ahead and love on them. Sometimes holding them a little bit closer and tighter is all they need to feel safe and secure again.

Teach Love. Give Love. Receive Love.

Happy Father’s Day 2020.

Ramon Kinloch, M.D.

Get to know Ramon Kinloch, M.D.

Dr. Kinloch is a Cook Children's pediatrician at  Cook Children's Pediatrics Fort Worth - Forest Park and now a proud dad.

"My desire to practice medicine really stemmed from my interest in the sciences. I actually thought about a career as an astronaut at first, but decided that wasn't for me after watching the movie 'Armageddon'. As I got older, I enjoyed spending time in the church nursery and developed a passion for teaching/mentoring children and adolescents. Becoming a pediatrician allowed me to integrate what I love doing and have fun serving others.

Outside of practicing medicine, I enjoy traveling, especially internationally to experience and learn about the different cultures of our world. I love music and dancing. I enjoy watching and playing sports (I'm a big Michigan Wolverines and Dallas Cowboys fan!). Last but not least, I enjoy checking out new restaurants.

I am thankful and blessed to be married to the love of my life Andrea. We are now the proud parents of our son, Tyson, who can melt your heart with a smile—even if there’s a pacifier in the way. We have a lab mix dog, Ramsey, who now thinks he’s a babysitter. I love being a pediatrician because it is one of the few careers where you can let you inner kid be free!

Comments 1 - 15 (15)
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Helen Thomas
19
June
2020
Thank you Dr. Kinloch for sharing your heart felt thoughts on your first Father's day. The issue of racism and social injustice weighs heavy on us all and I believe that 2020 might be the year to end all types of slavery that still exist. As a Caucasian women, I will never know what it feels like to be Black in America. I am willing to listen though and seek out my unconscious biases. Thank you for being an awesome Dad. Happy Father's Day!
Daphne Gazdagh
19
June
2020
Thank you for that great insight and for being honest about your feelings. I pray we have great days ahead! Happy Father's Day to you!
Elizabeth Barriteau
19
June
2020
Thank you.
Sharon Davis
19
June
2020
Thank you Dr. Kinloch for sharing this.
Janice Orange
19
June
2020
Thank you Dr. Kinloch for sharing your story. Your story is inspiring and encouraging. I will personally keep you in my prayers. I pray a hedge of protection over you in all you do. Thank you again. You have a beautiful family!
Melissa
19
June
2020
Thanks for sharing a bit of your story and thoughts with us. It touched my heart. Tyson is a cutie pie!
Chris
22
June
2020
Excellent piece!
Jane M Williams
24
June
2020
I knew Ramon in his younger years. We are so proud of him and his beautiful young family. This was an awesome article. Happy Father's Day.
Marcus L. Sins
24
June
2020
Dr. Ramon, having watched you grow from birth to now becoming a very accomplished, well respected and devoted pediatrician, it certainly doesn’t surprise me one bit that having been raised in a loving and cohesive family, the child has become the husband and father, who is teaching his son to one day pass the sacred baton of unconditional love and commitment to achieve and serve unselfishly.
Everything that you have written so remarkably and exquisitely reminds each of us of the current social climate we are living in, and only Love can change this mindset of America, so that you, your son, and millions of other young black males will have an opportunity to live and taste full success, along with an abundant life, where they, along with my (30) nephews, will realize that the blessings of being unapologetically black males far outweigh the burden of rampant systemic racism.
Thank you so much for sharing.
John Kinloch
24
June
2020
Ramon your words are powerful and true, because we know you are speaking from the heart as well as what you see on a daily basis. I am very proud of you Nephew and your wife.
John Kinloch
24
June
2020
Ramon your words are powerful and true, because we know you are speaking from the heart as well as what you see on a daily basis. I am proud you nephew and your wife. Thanks again for sharing your heart with us.
Ralphetta Davis
24
June
2020
What a great and inspiring message! This is a time to be open and speak honestly from the heart. It encourages others who are experiencing like feelings and situations to be better prepared to teach their children the things they may have to deal with, as sad as it may be even in 2020. Thanks for the encouragement!
Cleveland C. Beaufort
24
June
2020
Hello Ramon (Dr. Kinloch),
Your dad (childhood friend) forward me your Father’s Day message. It was very insightful, real and inspiring. I’ve watched you grown up into a successful young man. I’m very proud of your accomplishments. Especially, taking on fatherhood.
Cleveland C. Beaufort
Karen Gibbs-Smith
24
June
2020
Great Article. Proud of your candid statements of how you feel even at your level of achievement as a medical doctor. Sadden by the fact that you have to feel like this in 2020!..We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. We WILL over come racism in America by sharing our struggles and having the difficult conversations with all of our brothers and sisters from all ethnicities. We cannot remain silent . I see that they are listening ….change IS coming!
Franklin Cash
25
June
2020
So proud of you young ❤ man!
You are Blessed!