Who else to create a platform, Dope Dad, then a dope dad? Meet Joshua Johnson, a St. Louis native, and a father who is passionate about supporting and uplifting other fathers within the community. Dope Dad began in 2017 when his daughter, Kori, was almost two years old. Joshua reflected how people would share many positive comments about him being with his daughter: “I love you with your daughter!”, “You’re a dope father!”. He realized that it was not too common to see such a positive interaction between a child and their father, so he saw it fitting to amplify his journey in fatherhood and create Dope Dad.
Dope Dad focuses on highlighting, encouraging, and inspiring relationships between fathers and their children. The platform shares stories, experiences, and resources to help fathers feel equipped for the journey they are endeavoring. Joshua stated that his greatest lesson is to “learn as you go, learn as you grow as a father.”
The Making of a Strong, Black Father
Joshua mentions that he had the privilege in having a present dad and stepdad, and that they all made it a point to sustain a healthy relationship with him, as well as sustain a healthy relationship with each other. His stepdad conquered a tough role of coming into the family, as he managed it greatly without overstepping any boundaries.
Joshua’s birth-dad passed when he was 12, which quickly taught him that “we are always on borrowed time”. During his time with him, he valued how much of a protector his dad was. He was also a strong provider and ensure that whatever Joshua wanted or needed, he would supply. He did recognize that he wasn’t deeply emotional, which is something he took note to implement within parenting Kori. This relationship has truly impacted Joshua’s fatherhood as he wants to be as intentional, protecting, providing, and emotionally present as he can.
Joshua recognized that the journey of becoming a father creates high fear and nervousness, so he was glad to have such role models around to learn from. Even with such role models, the ultimate lesson that he learned is that as a father it is necessary to be one’s self, and still operate in their truest identity and persona. He recognizes who he is, and who each father is, serves as more than enough to truly give life to their children, which he strives to do daily. Based on his childhood experiences, as well as his experiences of working in a juvenile detention, he has learned how incredibly difficult life can be. Joshua’s heart widened to the kids who are forced to grow up while carrying the heaviest traumas and expected to live “normal”. Therefore, he extensively gives each day to ensure that Kori will have the opportunity to truly be a kid and to explore the world. He carries this same passion through the men of Dope Dad in highlighting so many more fathers who have similar aspirations for their children. Joshua referenced Tupac in reflection of the experiences of our youth:
“I Beg God To Make A Way,
For Our Ghetto Kids To Breathe.”
Characteristics of a Dope Dad
Joshua mentioned five things that would be helpful to have in the Dope Dad Toolbox:
Willingness – You have to want to develop the relationship with your child.
Excitement – Being a father does bring fear, and that is okay. Yet, bring yourself to a place where the fear can turn into excitement.
Involvement – Be aware of the things going on in the relationship and around you and become invested.
Understanding – Be able to understand first who you and be open to understanding your child. Also, be able to gain understanding from the mistakes you make.
Open-Mindedness – Be open to new things! It is necessary to get out of your routine to benefit the bond with your child.
Vision for Dope Dad
Joshua hopes to see Dope Dad grow in exposure, especially on social media platforms. Particularly, he hopes to increase resources for fathers and create opportunities for larger donations that help support fathers. His intensive passion for serving fathers leads him to expansive outreach, education, support, and support that enriches the mission of the platform. From one Dope Dad to another, he shares the intentionality within to empower and inspire many fathers across the communities.
Really Dope Celebrity Dads
Joshua mentions two dads that have been his inspiration on how to navigate fatherhood. The first is Will Smith. He enjoys that Will has an open relationship with his children and allows them to explore who they are. He also appreciated that the relationship with his wife never impacted his relationship with his kids.
The second father is Damon Williams character in My Wife and Kids. He appreciated this character because he always found space to have fun, yet there was always a lesson to learn. He most valued that he never hid his mistakes and was transparent on the times he was wrong.
Note to Dads
“Fatherhood is one of the greatest things you can experience. It’s scary but that’s okay. Lots of dad are trying to figure it out just like you, and lots of dads are willing to help. Just start the journey and figure out the steps along the way. Don’t let media scare you into thinking we are something that we aren’t. I’m here to help you. I can help connect you to a network that will help you with resources you need. Just reach out.”
Now that, is a Dope Dad.
To learn more about Dope Dad, here is the contact information: