Tell us about yourself (who you are, background, etc.)
My name is Ra’mon Gates. I’m from East Saint Louis, Illinois. I currently live in OKC, Oklahoma. I am a Father to two beautiful children. I’m an alumnus of Langston University as well as the member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. I currently drive trucks for a food distribution company and I’m also an entrepreneur. I’m the owner of HealTHY Self Remedies, which we sale herbal detoxes, cleanses, other natural remedies. I’m excited about starting a food vending service with my spouse, Aina.
How did you get started with HealTHY Self Remedies?
It started with a spiritual journey for me. The tragedies that happened to Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown motivated me to find a different outlet for dealing with everything happening to black people. As I started researching and learning about the benefits of meditation, I quickly realized that so much of our well-being starts with what we consume. It’s important that we cleanse our bodies by doing a detox. When you get your oil changed, mechanics don’t add new oil to the old oil—they get rid of the old oil first (detox) then add new oil to it (consuming foods). That’s how we have to treat our bodies and I do so by detoxing. So, I want to be an avenue for people to be able to have access to these natural remedies that I to use myself.
What are some goals do you have for HealTHY Self Remedies?
Ultimately, I hope to continue bringing awareness for people to live a healthier lifestyle. I want people to ask me questions to why I am choosing to drink tea instead of an energy drink in order to boost my energy. I want to help lead people to do their own research and to see the benefits taking care of their temples.
What’s one lesson would you share with someone that’s interested with being an entrepreneur?
Don’t re-invent the wheel. Do plenty of research. Provide solutions to people’s needs. Also, don’t wait. If you got a good idea for a product and/or services then go for it.
What was your fatherhood experience like growing up and how did that impact you as a father yourself?
My father was a product of his environment. He didn’t raise me but the times he would come around he never treated me badly. He didn’t sugar coat his lifestyle to me. I grew up not having ill feelings about him, but it motivated me to make sure I had a better relationship with my kids than he did with me. The downside of that situation is that I didn’t have my Dad to be the fatherly figure that I needed. I didn’t have that example of how a man is supposed to father his children—to be there emotionally or show affection when needed.
How did growing up in East St. Louis mold you into the person you are today?
I appreciate East St. Louis, Illinois! I lived in the rough part of the city, but I never got involved into the street life. I was fortunate to not fall victim to streets. I was all about having fun and playing sports. I truly can’t say anything negative about East St. Louis. I’m humble because of that place and it’ll forever be who I am.
How would you explain your fatherhood experience so far? And how have you handled co-parenting?
It’s been challenging. I’m learning as I go. As I said earlier, I didn’t have the exampled I needed to be a father. I thought I just needed to be better than my father but it’s a lot more to it. I do feel like I’m doing pretty well though. I just strive to make sure my kids are good. No one’s perfect but I just have to continue to do my best. Co-parenting is challenging because you’re away from your child. I’m learning that it’s not money that you spend or what you provide for that child—it’s about time. My son lives in Illinois with his Mom. We can talk on the phone or FaceTime as much as we want but it’s not the same being together in person.
How do you go about raising your kids when one lives with you and the other doesn’t?
I try my best to raise them the same but it’s not possible. Naturally with my daughter living with me, we’re going to have a stronger bond than I would have with my son. My daughter is always with me so I’m conscience that I can’t discipline my son the way I would my daughter. If I had more time with my son, then this wouldn’t be a thing. I do make sure that they both know that I love them dearly and give them what they need from their Father.
What advice do you have for new fathers?
Be patient. Not just being patient to your children but have patience for yourself. There’s a lot of things that I personally go through and end up questioning myself for decisions I make as a father. Again, I didn’t have the example of what fatherhood looks like, so I have to remember to be patient.
Do you feel there’s a certain stereotype or narrative displayed about black fathers and what are things you do to help change that narrative?
I think black Fathers get the narrative that we’re lazy and/or absent. That’s not truth for all black Fathers. Black Fathers want to be around their children. I make sure people know that I’m there with my children. I make sure I put the time in. That’s something I want for myself and for them.
If you could write a short letter to your father starting with “Dear Father,” what would you say?
Dear Father. . . I never knew the man that wasn’t there. I’ve only heard stories. I never tried to understand why our relationship was so inconsistent, though, as an adult I understand. As a boy, no one explained the torches of being a product of “our” environment. The mistakes of your men being from our neck of the woods, or why if someone spoke your name it was in a dim light. A light that never cast over my vision of you. I’m confused. I never seen who people say you are nor have you shown me. Thank you for keeping my perception of you safe.