2.1. That is the percentage of those who share in the coveted insignia of being black and an air-force pilot. 38 year old Dedrian of McNulty of Brookhaven, Mississippi knows that his career has given him wings so that he can make a difference in the lives of others.
His most important flight is the one he takes daily as a father. He grew up not having a relationship with his biological dad, though he lived two blocks away from his childhood residence. This experience compelled him to sear a promise in his heart; that he would become everything he did not experience with his own father.
So when he and his wife were expecting their first child, they couldn’t have been more thrilled.
After the newly married couple endured the heartbreak of a miscarriage with this first child, there was a tremendous sense of relief and ethereal gratitude when they knew their second baby would be delivered safely.
“He is the smartest child I know. He has taught me so much about myself and life” boasts Dedrian about his first born son.
As a self proclaimed “home boy”, Dedrian’s life has always been marked by loyalty and discipline. The foundation of his tactical training informs much of how he shows up as a father as he fervently believes it is his duty to provide for any need that his sons or wife may have. He admits that stepping into fatherhood came naturally for him.
Reflecting on his life’s journey, “In Marine Corps basic training, they strip you down and build you back up. You can’t see it while you are doing it, but with everything you are taught and told to do, there is a reason” and that experience continues to shape the way he parents his two young boys. “I try to always have a reason and while this can be difficult to articulate, I am devoted to starting with the WHY. I do not want my sons doing things just to do them, they should always know that everything has a reason”
Dedrian’s unyielding commitment to “it’s not what you do, but why you do it” was likely inherited from his virtuous mother who he describes as generous, hard working and diligent, “we grew up poor and didn’t know we were poor” Dedrian shares, illustrating the very enriching childhood that he experienced, despite the reality of economic hardship that his mother silently endured.
His quest for knowledge has taken him to great heights through his vocation and he is on a mission to make the lives of those around him better; a deep conviction that he shares with his beautiful wife of seven years, Tansy.
“I read a lot and listen to a lot of books so when I come in contact with someone who doesn’t have knowledge, I share it. I believe we need to proliferate knowledge throughout the world in order for all of us to become better” he states.
One of the most commonplace ways he has been able to do this is by showing up authentically throughout his everyday life. He reflects on a recent experience at a local Nevada barbershop “ I went to the barbershop in my flight suit and an OG came in; he didn’t speak to me until I got up and when he saw my uniform, the first thing he asked me: are you a mechanic?”
Dedrian, always looking for a way to impart knowledge, saw this as a unique opportunity to lean in. He spent time broadening this brother’s perspective by conveying to him that black men are capable of more and achieving new horizons in life. He sincerely hopes the moment was a catalyst for this brother and that he used this new information to educate those within his own circle of influence. Another example of how trajectory transforming representation can be.
As he turns the pages of his own story of fatherhood and navigates the ebbs and flows of this most important distinction, he is capturing the journey in a neat way for his boys.
“I am writing them a journal right now. I want them to have my words from me. Something they can keep. I don’t want people to tell them, I want them to know for themselves. The biggest thing I want them to understand is that they owe me nothing and everything I have is theirs”
Selfless and driven by his values, Dedrian’s message to the brotherhood of black fathers around the globe is simple “Give what you have because that is your duty as a father, regardless of the dynamic with their mother, be present and show up for your children. Don’t let anyone else define what you’re supposed to be doing for your children. Give from your heart”
And when you see Dedrian out and about, know he is likely the dad that gives you the nod as he is intentional in practicing this gesture because he knows, first hand, the value of cheering another father on and has witnessed the power of an encouraging word bolstering commitment and making others feel seen.
A journal entry to his own father would read:
Whatever the situation was, you did what you did and I hope you made the best of your time. I hope the time you spent elsewhere was being put to good use. God puts us here for a reason, we do not know the story He has outlined for us. No one should hold grudges, I hope your time is going to good use and that you are fulling Gods will”
Heartfelt words steeped in forgiveness and understanding. His final commission to fathers is to use your time wisely, do all that you can, while you can, and find what you love while you are serving others.
Thank you for spending your time wisely, loving your children, leading your family, and providing an ascent to the narrative of black fathers everywhere. You have undoubtedly earned the Dear, Fathers Medal of Honor and we salute you, Dedrian!