Sho Baraka uses his artistry to promote the importance of Black fatherhood

Sho Baraka stands as an influential figure of this generation. The musician, poet, writer,  and speaker is also a social justice advocate.

But at home, Baraka is daddy. He has used his voice to champion the cause of Black fatherhood while raising kids, two who have autism.

Baraka shares advice to other fathers and reveals his greatest moments as a dad.

What legacy are you leaving for your children and the children of your community?

I’m leaving a legacy that teaches that real fatherhood is sacrificial and doesn’t always service your own interest. Resources and platforms are the product of great character and work but they are not always promised therefore you don’t work nor live to corral those things.

How would you describe your Fatherhood culture?

It’s one that displays a charitable authority. I attempt to create a space where ideas and emotions can be communicated without the fear of intimidation. The ideas and emotions may be corrected but we want our kids to feel the liberation of engagement.  That leads to other attributes of grace and justice. My children need to understand that correction is necessary but its always partnered with love and compassion. Justice isn’t just punishment but its the effort to make right what is wrong.

Why is it important to expose children to education and valuable skills?

Education is vital and is important in the classroom and outside of them. I would take it a step further and cultivate in your children the desire to be life learners. Impressing on them that if you’re willing to learn in any capacity you will always find yourself useful.

As a father and a life coach, describe your playbook.

Because I have two children on the Autism spectrum I’m compelled to see fatherhood and love from a interesting paradigm. Love isn’t based on performance. They are loved simply for who they are. They are on my team and that makes them valuable. They will never perform perfectly however that will not change the way I feel about them.

Which fatherhood experiences have taught you the most about yourself?

It’s taught me how much anger and impatience I had that needed to be reconciled and redeemed towards positive energy. It made me realized that I am quite imperfect and that I’m still loved by my wife, children, friends and God. If they love me despite my imperfections then I can learn to turn my anger and impatience to compassion and peace.

Name one life lesson that no one taught you, but should have.

College and vocation will teach you how to make a living, but it will not teach you how to make a life. Are we making money or is the money making you? Most of us make decision around money not impact and need.

How important is keeping your word?

Extremely important. As the Scriptures teach, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” I would rather be a person who says no to people because I understand my capacity than someone who attempts to people please and fails at the job because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. Know thy self!

What advice would you give on being responsible for your own dreams?

Understand nothing is given to you freely. You must believe you can overcome any obstacle. However no one accomplishes their goals without the help and resources of others. That means you must be a person that others want to help.

How does following your spiritual values help you in life?

It’s everything! It teaches me that I’m made in the image of the Creator. Therefore I know my value. It teaches me that I’m still loved in my lowest lows and I’m still undeserving of my highest highs. I’m balanced to enjoy life in all it offers. It teaches me how to love and serve others. Everyday I strive to be like Jesus, full of grace and truth.

Share one of your fondest memories you’ve experienced with your father, grandfather or father figure.

My father said that he had prayed that he would grow closer to God. He said that he never knew that God would use cancer to do such a thing. He never complained nor blamed God for his illness. He said he never felt more peace in life than in those moments. This taught me that perspective is everything. You can see pain or peril as punishment or you can see it as growth. Learn that all things can work for benefit depending on your worldview. It’s taught me to loosen my grip on the material world and embrace a deeper relationship with people and God.

Why is writing down your fatherhood goals for life so important? Share your most valued and treasured fatherhood goal.

It provides capstones of remembrance. You can share with your children as they get older and it keeps you progressing. I want my children to say that they are proud to call me dad and friend. I want them to know I did everything in my capacity to make them Great. I gave them the physical and financial resource to succeed. The spiritual values to navigate and cruel world. The emotional aptitude to engage culture. My mental prowess to excel in any field. At the end of it all, I hope they say I was a good person who taught them to be good people.

A.R. Shaw
A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.

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