• COIP Research Team

My Best Friend: My Personal Relationship With My Incarcerated Dad

By: Ravon Campbell (Howard University c/o 2020)

This blog post is the journal reflection from an undergraduate campus student who participated in the Howard University summer session course SOCI 002-80, entitled “Children of Incarcerated Parents” taught by Dr. Bahiyyah M. Muhammad in the College of Arts and Sciences within the Department of Sociology and Criminology. This assignment required directly impacted students, community members and incarcerated scholars to share their personal experiences in their own words. In this instance, the only grammatical edits were made as to not deflect from the message.

I love my father more than words can describe. He is a visual representation of me watching my heart outside my body. I thank him for being a stand-up guy, but most of all a great father. No matter the situation or circumstances he has never turned his back on me. He is a man of his word. He is sure to paint the picture clear that a man does not have much in this world, but his word, so it is important to always stand on what you say. Those words alone have brought me so far in life. Being true to myself, keeping my word, and holding up my end of the bargain have made me an honest woman. He is such a wise man and I am glad to be able to obtain the knowledge that he gives. If I say so myself, the man is a genius. I am talking about Einstein smart. I bet I could put him up against one of my professors and he would run circles around them. I am speaking on behalf of someone with a 7th-grade education. He quotes, baby I did not finish school like you, but I never stopped learning and reading. I refuse to become like dry concrete. You know set and stone. Stuck in one way. Impossible to change, seek growth, or shed.

I am like him in so many ways. I am always exploring, learning, reading, and passing down gems. “Milk the game teach my daughter” (we like us some YFN Lucci). I thank him for always being in my corner and supporting whatever it is I want to do. If I told him I wanted to fly, he would provide me with all the tools and resources I would need to be sure I do just that. His words of encouragement mean a lot to me. After a talk with him, I feel as if I can conquer the world. Like there is not a thing in this world I cannot do. I thank him for always believing in me.

Even at times where I did not believe in myself. I felt like giving up and throwing in the towel. He would say, you’re the glue baby, you cannot fall. If you fall everything else will collapse. Stay strong. Adversity is going to come your way, but you can handle it. The spirit is within you. I thank him for spreading love and positivity.

We are really big on using our words for love. If we do not have anything nice to say we rather not say anything at all, because it can really ugly. We are both Geminis’. A few people love to say we have two personalities but in reality, we either like you or we do not. There is no faking the funk. If you piss us off, you will see another side of us. Like a gnat that keeps nagging. It will eventually get smacked right? You cannot do people any kind of way and not expect a reaction. It may be as simple as using our voice, still using our words with love. Just killing ya’ with kindness. Besides that, we are sweet as can be. I am speaking on behalf of us.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, he is not able to celebrate with family on holidays. When I am feeling down, I cannot grab my phone and call him, when I am in need of a hug or just want to spend quality time with him, I cannot. That sucks. It even hurts at times, but we count blessings over here. It is a blessing for him to still be here, so we are thankful! Every day is a celebration. We are grateful for life itself. When he is back out in society, I am going to make sure he enjoys every day like it is his last. He deserves it! We know the storm does not last forever. We need the rain. That rainbow was God's promise to us. He will not leave nor forsake us. He got US no doubt! I will always be his RAE of sunshine. Picking him up when he needs that extra push.

I can say we were not always this close. My father has been incarcerated for 22 years of my 24 years of living. I barely knew my father. I know that when he was out, he made sure I never went without. He made sure to pour knowledge into me, and always reminded me of how much he loves me. When I was in middle school, I wrote my dad a letter. I told him that I want to get to know him, and I want to grow to love him. He wrote me back a 10-page letter, front and back, telling me about himself. Ever since then we have been close. I say that to say if you too have a father that is incarcerated, and you want to get to know them let go of all that hurt on why your parent did this or that. Why they were not there for you and so forth. We are all human. We all make mistakes. You are only accountable for your actions. So do not allow your parent’s actions to weigh you down. You have the power to create a new narrative. I cannot fault him for what he has done. What I can do is turn a negative into a positive and be able to bond with my dad while he is still here, breathing, and in good health.

G IS FREE!!!!!!!!

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