In September of 1988, at 25-years-old, my father, Dwayne Roderick Walker, passed away due to a senseless act of gun violence. My mother was four-months pregnant with me when she received the call that my father would not be coming home.
Fourteen years would pass before the person responsible for my father’s death was prosecuted. I was only in 8th grade when my sister and I were summoned to a front-row seat throughout the trial and initial court proceedings. During this time, I was left with an empty void in discovering the type of man my father was.
Throughout the years, I’ve learned he was a brother, the youngest of nine children — a hard worker, dedicated family man, and enjoyed dancing and traveling.
As I continue to grow older, I’ve realized those wounds, that pain, and my search for him are more in-depth than I fully understood.
My father’s death was highly circulated in the media. And in my quest for answers, I became engulfed with articles and news reports displaying my father’s ambition, qualities, and characteristics. In my findings, one thing stood out to me. The media often referred to me as “the unborn child,” followed by rhetoric questions such as “what will become of her as a fatherless daughter?”
I was born on March 3, 1989, four days after my father’s birthday. Fast forward to the present day, and at the age of 31, watching the media coverage surrounding another young Black girl’s father, George Floyd’s death seems like familiar territory deep in my core.
I feel connected and simultaneously saddened by the cycle of Black fathers being taken away from their families and community at large. Growing up I invariably felt a lingering absence without my father and would find solace in endlessly searching for remembrances of his presence including scouring drawers to locate photos of him. With my curiosity heightened, I often asked questions and continue to do so.
As I continue to grow older, I’ve realized those wounds, that pain, and my search for him are more in-depth than I fully understood. My healing is deeply rooted in hearing stories about my father with the ability to paint my own pictures of him. Undeniably, I’m motivated and empowered by his legacy, and ironically, it never fails, like clockwork, I receive a sign from him guiding me along this journey called life.
Although I didn’t physically have my biological dad, I had a host of male figures I was able to depend on to help navigate the difficult times and celebrate the great moments with me. Those impactful relationships have allowed me to identify the effects of being surrounded by positive male figures because a healthy support system that keeps me accountable is vital.
Also, I can’t deny, my advocacy for therapy has helped me in these triggering moments. Personally, working through thoughts has enabled me to see everything from a different perspective. When our minds are healthy, we can maximize personal growth and genuinely go out into the world as the absolute best versions of ourselves.
When our minds are healthy, we can maximize personal growth and genuinely go out into the world as the absolute best versions of ourselves.
There is beauty in pain, and I’ve chosen to activate my pain into purpose because my greatest joy is to help other fatherless daughters by providing counsel and sound advice on ways to traverse the road that lies ahead.
Like George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, it hurts me to see more Black children experience unimaginable tragedy at such a young age. If my father’s death has taught me anything, it is that my aligned purpose is tied to encouraging other young girls who’ve endured similar situations that you are not alone in this plight. We hear your cries, we see you, and we are here for you.