The Power of Fatherhood


By Phillip Copeland

Prior to my son being born, I always saw the world differently. Prior to my son being born, I always recognized inequalities that existed.  Prior to my son being born, I never felt compelled to speak out.

Since I was born into an interracial household, I always saw the world from two distinct lenses. I never fit neatly into any of America’s social circles, but I saw two perspectives very clearly. I not only grew up with the love and support of a Black woman, but I also grew up with the love and support of a White man. I naturally witnessed the beauty of humanity growing up.

I have witnessed social and systemic injustices in my life. I was conditioned to believe that those injustices can never change. My naivety... my ignorance created a natural resentment within me. I resented friends of mine who always labeled me as different. I resented teachers of mine who were always surprised by my intellect. I resented police officers I encountered that always found a reason to harass myself.

A slow rage simmered in my heart and I never felt the need to resolve it.

On May 18, 2016, my beautiful wife gave birth to my beautiful son, Phillip Robert Lamar Copeland, Jr. I now saw life through a very clear lense. The rage I grew up living with became a focused objective to inflict change in our world.

I always knew discrimination existed, I always knew an equal education had been denied to many communities of color, and I always knew the criminal justice system unfairly targeted people of color... but I never felt forced to dedicate every decision I make towards inflicting change.  

I remember sitting at home with my newly born son and my recovering wife one day in July, I remember watching Alton Sterling getting shot and killed one day in July... I remember watching Philando Castile sitting in his girlfriend’s car, lifeless, with a child in the back seat one day in July... I remember my heart hurting in a way I have not felt before.

This is the world my son now lives in... I cannot be a bystander anymore.

Phillip Copeland is a participant in the 2018-2019 Stories from Our Classrooms course.

Mykella Palmer