Black Therapist Podcast formerly Black in Therapy Brooklyn New York based psychotherapist host Nikita Banks interviews Content Creator and Film maker Theron “Tee Smif” Smith discussing the latest with Tyrese Gibson, gaining custody of his son, navigating the court system and his experience as a single father.
I am New York City based psychotherapist Nikita Banks, a licensed clinical social worker, and I am your host of The Black therapists podcast, formerly black in therapy. The black therapists podcast is a place where we will discuss the unique issues people of color face. When dealing with mental health issues and mental health diagnosis, you can listen to our show on SoundCloud, iTunes and Google Play, you can follow us on Instagram, the black therapist podcast, or you can hit us up on our website and sign up for our mailing list at Black therapists podcast.com. Also on our website, you can find the links to our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages. You can also email us show suggestions, general feedback and any ideas that you have for I don’t know, guess, at Black therapists podcast at gmail. com. So tonight, I’m gonna do things a little bit differently. I told you I was going to try to have some guests on I’m attempting to plan a mass it is technology. So I figured the easiest way for me to do that was to have somebody that actually know. So in case things screw up, in so I tell him I’m not going to introduce him. So I’m gonna let him introduce yourself. Hello, my name is to smoke.
I’m from Brooklyn, so Smith. Smith
added all my life. Okay. And tell them a little bit more about yourself. What do you do? How do you identify yourself,
while being a former major in the business for the last 2526 years on the 90s I worked in film with the likes of Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, I Williams. A little bit everybody Actually, I shot a documentary called fade to black in the making of the Black Album with JZS out now also, since then, I’ve done other stuff up directed at Nickelodeon, producer other networks with the 106 and park. And pretty much anything in the last 20 years I was popping some I got my hands on it.
So so tipa Viacom be easy MTV Music videos, and I’ve known you for a really long time, because I know you do most of that.
Besides that I have my own podcast called the Smithsonian SM, IF, by the way, the Smithsonian. I have a YouTube channel under my name. And I got a lot of content and things on it. And I have a web series and the web mini series coming out soon called Brooklyn. And so that’s that that’ll be coming up, will be dropping it. For this purpose. I’m a father. I have actually had custody of my son since he was seven months old nine now. So he’s been with me ever since he was seven months old. Mama still in his life and everything. She just moved out of state and it was his best day. He stayed with me. Okay. And so yeah, I guess the best thing I’ll identify with right now standing us just as a father,
the reason that we decided to do the show today, which is kind of like a bonus show, because my goal is to publish shows at least twice a month. And I feel like I’m like over that this month. I got like a battery in my back to do shows, which is not a bad thing for like, I’ve been doing more shows than usual this month, which is cool. Because, I mean, I want to make sure that I’m creating enough content to kind of sustain my schedule of how I want to publish the show or put the show out. And so I’m kind of recently in the news. I been seeing that people tweeting in like talking on social media about Tyrese putting this video up. And I you know, I don’t really follow Tyrese. I mean, you know, you’ve been in the industry, me being industry, I kind of met him a few times just kind of that somebody that I like in real life. I’m not against him or anything. But you know, you meet people that just didn’t get the kind of energy that I wanted to, I didn’t get the vibe that I wanted to him. I mean, that’s neither here nor there. So I don’t really wasn’t like following the social media chatter, what the gossip about what was going on up with him. But I did hear that he was kind of going through some court struggle, and there was some sort of restraining order happening with his kid and heard something about him flying a banner over her school, and like delivering things to her school, even though there was a restraining order, right, just
that day was a birthday or something like that. I don’t recall, but I think it was a birthday or something like that. And he said he wanted to do a big I thought that was kind of I don’t know.
So. So you know, you are black man, I am a black woman and just knowing you know, something who had to navigate co parenting as a single mother, who had you know, my son’s father was was involved in the process, his whole life in it. And he still is, but just kind of navigating parenting. I never really had to go through the court system. But I kind of never understood why. And I still don’t I don’t understand why black men don’t like the court system, especially because for me, and I’m not sure if you and I have had this conversation. But for me, I think that what the court is great for doing is enforceable boundaries. And so for me if I was a male, and I had a baby with somebody that I chose not to be with, and the court told me, You have $200 a month to give to this kid or $200 a month to give to this week to $200 a week to give to this woman and child support. I know how to budget my money. I know she can’t ask me for money. I know I’m not obligated to do any more than that. I mean, about what Child Support is, is like I have a whole nother frame of idea of what Child Support is because Child Support is really, truly just monthly maintenance of the child. It’s not like for his birthday, it’s not most like school clothes. It’s not like, you know, buying a new J’s it really truly is like monthly maintenance of the child. So part of the child’s light bill, because the kid has a light bill Carey has gas bill kill gotta brush his teeth, kidney food. So really what Child Support is supposed to be budgeted for his monthly maintenance. So the child, but a kid, just like everything else is a bill like I can’t even as a woman, I can’t afford to wake up and open my eyes and wash my face if my bills ain’t paid. And so I never understood why black men have such this negative idea of just being taken to court. Because if she step out of pocket, and she don’t give you the keys, she doesn’t do whatever she wants to do. She decides to do whatever she wants to do in terms of like, custodial interference, now you have a weapon against her. So make sure that she’s doing what she needs to do to be co parenting in a proper way with you. I mean,
I wouldn’t frame it as a weapon, per se.
I would just say that.
Because we went through court, we went through family court
So wait, so before you begin to that.
So you initiate proceedings?
Yeah. And I’m not gonna say and does mean, mother? No, we actually just had a baby too. So so he has a little brother. So you know, we’re good. You know, I’m saying, but at that time, I just felt it was the necessary route to go. And I’m glad I did. Unfortunately, you know, given up fortunate situation, but you know, I had to go that route. Because, you know, I am not one of these guys, I could walk the earth not knowing where my challenges was happening in doing what’s going on, like, I need daily constant, like, you know, exposing too much out, you know, circumstance. You know, I went to went to the courts, tentatively, but like you said earlier, it just got it does give, it lays the boundaries out for us. Because if I had to, if I had to navigate that whole situation, by myself with just heard, we were in good times at that. I don’t think a lot of things would have got accomplished the way that they do. And like I said, I’m saying all of this is with no bad blood, no issues, and none of that. So I’m here to kind of just tell the story to help anybody relate to tokenize. Mother, love, he was definitely made out of love and love.
Okay, I mean, I respect that. I mean, I wasn’t a therapist at the time, but I was a friend, when you guys were kind of going through some of that. And I know, just from my memory, correct me. If I’m you know, overstepping one memory, remembering anything wrong. I know that when she she had the baby, you guys were living together? And what what?
You know what we didn’t realize she was going to post
college, complicated a lot of things that
she seek treatment?
Because that’s how we found out that’s what was kind of going over. Okay.
How educated were you about postpartum depression and like, what your responsibility would be as somebody who had a partner who had that,
in hindsight, I would definitely we move
our move different probably could even resolve the whole situation. But I’m also like to think that, you know, say happens the way supposed to happen, and for the reasons it’s supposed to happen. We don’t know why, you know, I’m saying I don’t know what this is going to do long term for my son, or what, but he is completely loved on both ends. And then whatever issues me and his mother want to know, it is between us, but it had nothing to do.
Okay. And so when you went to play initially, what were you seeking?
So funny enough?
I don’t know how to explain it without giving the little details.
Did you want visitation? Did you want joint custody? Did you want? No. So so what what?
Let’s just say I had to utilize the court to get him back in.
Okay, so he was at a stage. He was out of state, this is what I’m hearing, I hear you say, Oh,
I had to use the courts to enforce
habeas corpus. We met about
my spent over 20 grand to But anyway, okay, so when you
told your homies, listen, this, this is not working. Now this is I’m going to take how to quote What did what did the hood say, with the hood thing about it?
No, not for nothing. I mean, people mind the business. So this wasn’t something I was happy to go around telling everybody. I’m going to court doing all this, you know, I’m saying so, you know, wasn’t as much as like, what I think what I was more concerned about is how my family was going to take it and what they were going to go do.
They take it
you know, everybody supported. I mean, I wouldn’t be here to this day, if it wasn’t for my mother, my sister. My whole family. I’m the cosmonauts and my step pops and pops in everybody, but specifically my mother, my sister. Holiday held me down and you know, me, you know, I’m saying. So the same way a single mother, you know, relies on, you know, our family to get support and all that other stuff. I had to go through all the same things like, you know, yeah, I had seven months. That’s, that wasn’t like, you know, that was Pampers. And for me was still
in, how involved was she at that stage?
She had visitation. So you know, we was going back and forth. Even in and out. We agreed to a schedule and stuck to the schedule and stuff. Okay. So it’s not like it was all great. But I mean, like, you know, you made it with the we went through our paths and got to a competent place.
And so I’m, I mean, for me, being a single mom, I think it’s kind of the norm, everybody kind of expects that situation. I mean, my sister and I would joke that whenever, whenever we see a black man in the street with a kids, we like, ah, and whenever we see a black woman, and she will have kids we like no, because it’s kind of this idea that it’s such so hard to be a single mom. But whenever you see a black man babysitting his kids that it’s cute. And so it’s it’s not normalized to listen. That’s not my word. And I don’t babysit a room I raised him. And so I’m not babysitting. But um, I do have a lot of baby mamas. My family. That’s what I call my tribe. Because it does take it does take a village of people to kind of help raise a child properly.
It really does. Yeah.
So seeing the situation with Tyrese, I do you identify a little bit what he’s feeling or what he’s kind of displaying?
Oh, of course, you know, it’s I recently going through, he’s gone through what’s the name of that? Childish Gambino song on his album is a baby boy,
baby boy and Tammy, that’s his movie.
In the song here, childish, talking about, you know, taking his child away from the man’s and fighting for Nikita shot. And it seems as though the same thing is happening, which I which I don’t know, the specifics. I don’t know the details. I don’t know all of that. But I know for what I have observed, you know, he’s definitely going through it. I think the separation from his daughter is doing something mentioned to him being who he is artists. You know,
he has financial means
you guys have financial problems.
No, I’m saying he, he has financial means he he’s on the internet crying that he’s given this woman $13,000 a month. And so I mean,
yeah, I mean, it’s a double edged sword, but, but she has a restraining order against him. And what
that pray towel is the issue. So we are not privy to that information. But I would like to give this woman who I don’t know the benefit of the doubt that she’s not crazy, and that she’s not, you know, nuts, and that she actually married this man. So at some point, she loves him, and she bought his child. And if she feels that she needs to protect her daughter from this situation, I’m not understanding what the issue is. And he, according to what I see on social media, according to what he shared, he has a supervised visits. So he does have supervised visits, but he’s saying he hasn’t seen her in two months. And so I mean, I’m not here to I’m not here to debate, the facts of his case, I don’t know anything, anything about it. But I kind of feel like the display that he’s putting on now is, is perpetuating this idea that if you take your baby mother to court, or you take your wife, the court or you go after child support of your child, that you’re not going to win. And your case shows that that’s me, I hate using the word when I hate using the word win, because at that requires somebody to lose, you know, somebody loses in this situation. And, you know, whenever parents come to me for anything, whether it’s parenting advice, or even marital counseling, if their children in the Union, my goal is always the happiness of the children, and co parenting second, your relationship was last. Because I don’t know, if you get, you know, people come to me for couples counseling, I don’t know if they’re going to make it as a couple. I don’t even know if they’re compatible as a couple. But I know that they’ve signed up to this job of being parents and co parenting, and the happiness of the children should be paramount. You’re gonna say something about, I’m just going to call it in black men feeling like they won’t win.
Yeah, so that’s actually changes. I don’t know, if some master meeting happens. All the courts, Family Court, they decided that, you know, they’re just gonna switch it up. But a lot of men have been getting custody of their children, I actually had a conversation. Funny enough, I had a conversation with Buster about this, because he said he had custody, he
So we had we had a whole conversation about that. And then somebody else another one, and I was talking to you say he got custody escapes
on a little quest one custody
or while increasing
So it really is seen it since even my situation that more men are getting custody of their children. And I don’t know if that’s a social experiments close to doing or they come to a realization that, you know, it’s just been one way or this time, and we need to even that out. I don’t know what but I was very surprised, honestly, I was going in it with the intent of, you know, minimum having joint custody, know what I’m saying. But given the fact, what we explained, the judge decided it was best for the child.
So you didn’t ask for a full custody. Okay.
I, but I didn’t ask because I didn’t want focus, you are an ass because I think I’m gonna get it. So that goes in what you’re saying is like, I went into that situation, not know, I just wanted to know, I just wanted to do whatever I can to just enforce my rights as a father. You know, so because it was very difficult to, you know, being out of state, it was very difficult.
So, so what do you think a lot of men are
afraid of the court system first and foremost. I mean, it reminds you whatever, you know, so and then the court flashes itself is a tedious, long, two hours in court for years I initially got it was temporary custody, but we still going through the motions of court. You know, what I’m saying? So, and let me tell you, man, the court system, the family court system, now the court system is is is is bought by it really is because I’m only revealing all of this stuff about myself only for the bigger purpose of like trying to explain, you don’t have to go through what we went through, it shouldn’t take four years happy words. What happened was when you place lawyers in the middle of your direct conversation, and if those lawyers don’t have the intent being mediated, not just shut, collected, but mediated, meaning that they sit in the room, and the intent is to mediate a solution between the two of you, then you know, you’re going to get caught up in all of that stuff from what lawyers do. And, you know, they like to control the narrative, and they start throwing things in a game. And the further away that you get from communicating with the mother and father, the father, where you start communication with the mother and father is, the more complicated it gets, okay needed to happen initially, is that me and my son’s mother needs get put in a room together with me a therapist, or not just
me. Secondly, but
but I just mean not not, don’t put us in a room with just a court of court system, whatever the official title was, like, really put the two parents in the room with developers, like you said, and I think more things will happen. We ended up getting caught up in the battle, because of the extra added elements, then, you know, really going into really detached traders, mediation,
it becomes like weapons, like if I go to if I go to a fight, and all I have is my fist, that means I have to use my might, in order to, you know, a my will and my strength in order to win. But if I go in there, and I got a gun, I’m gonna make it easy to blast soon as you do anything. And so I think once you add all of these other quite appointed actors, instead of situation, it becomes very complex, in order to get it back. And, you know, for me doing channel, doing Divorce Mediation, as well as child support mediation is very lucrative, like for a therapist doing that is like, four or $500 an hour to do that kind of work.
So total, after the whole process is definitely over 29
Yeah, but a lawyer is is five times that, you know, what I’m saying, and so they’re there, they’re speaking also about their bottom line, and the billable hours. And in the what happens with the court system at times, is that your child just becomes a another child. So another number on the docket, another case of the day, and they’re not really truly looking at you, and looking at seeing who you are, then I even interested in figuring those things out there like you if you are such a responsible person, and you are such a good, a good upstanding father, then why are you here? I mean, that’s just really what the idea is. But quite some courts are supposed to help us resolve issues.
I mean, it’s a DMV for family problems, that already has the same structure, the same vibe sitting in the courtroom all day, sitting in the lobby, watching other people. This is just a family problem, DMV, you know, I’m saying and, you know, if you can avoid it, I would say try your best to get a mediator and get you in the person in the room. And you’re just gotta like, you know, if we would have sat down just for a couple hours hashed all that stuff out. might might not have with a giveaway, I don’t know. But I was still think she, you know, she was still fundamentally, I just think after four years, we could have summed that up into one week, you get what I’m saying in the process, go back and forth to court. If you go to court, and something right, you gotta reschedule to three months later, come back, you know, you need this, you gotta come back to pretty much all types of stuff on the table accusations and everything that you know, gotta defend, which wastes time, it just turns into a whole thing. sad state of affairs, you understand what I’m saying and its own was, like I said, we had mediation, and we were forced to kind of like, just be in the same room for a lengthy amount of time. So we really just laid things out and got it out. I think that would have been way more effective, way less dramatic. So I’m availing all of this just for the bigger picture, and anybody going lyst give some insight. So we definitely
have to go down and love them. And so if you had to do it all over again, would you
I was given the situation and I went down, I can see that I would still go through the courts, but I would, I would definitely streamline that whole court process. A lot of things was just us being young, you know, in the in the mental space that we were in, you know, being in a situation. Not an expert. I’m glad I’m not an expert, but um, there’s a lot of things that go the process. But at the end of the day, man, mediation is very, very necessary in situation between some people, especially when a lot of energy, passion and anger involved, you know, what I’m saying? You know, there’s always one side, you know, face, if we were all letting you and you had gold at the cord blood, you know, felt like I had to go through the course, I had to do it again, feel like a lot of having to go to court. So like I said, again, I’ll just streamline the situation. And I would have focused more on trying to get me and his mother into more meaty mediation situations, then just court defense.
So what I hear you saying is you would have just you would have preferred, like having more of a therapeutic experience or therapeutic intervention, rather than going straight to court, because you guys could have probably resolved it with somebody who allows you guys to kind of gave you guys the skills to communicate differently.
not caught there’s nothing therapeutic about
nobody there to be therapeutically view nobody’s using. Nobody has the intention of fixin everybody. Well,
well, I must say Brooklyn has a Brooklyn mental health court, Brooklyn. Brooklyn has court of innovations. They have Brooklyn mental health court. They have
no they have
incredible innovations has been there. It’s been there for a while. But they have Brooklyn mental health Court, which is amazing. They have they have drug court? Yeah, they have. And I’m my first year as a social worker, or when I was actually in school, I worked in court of innovation. And so a lot of the cases got dropped down as long as the they agreed to come to therapeutic interventions. So quite so changing a little bit. I’m not sure what’s going to happen under this administration. But it is it is changing. But Family Court, I don’t know. Family Court is a whole different animal. I’ve seen a lot of wacky wacky cases come You know, my way, by way of Family Court. But what I wanted to ask you is if if there was some somebody that you knew what kind of, you know, dealing with this, I had a patient today who he actually was attempting to commit suicide, because he said part of his issue was he was very depressed, he hasn’t been able to see his kid, his maybe mothers, you know, be word. And he was dealing with some other mental health issues, mainly depression and anxiety. And so like, not, maybe not him, but if you know, somebody who’s kind of going through that, and I think it’s probably common for men to be, you know, depressed about that situation, it felt very powerless. Wow, when a woman decides that they want to do whatever they want to do with the child, or if it’s an extreme case, a woman is using the child as a weapon. But if you, you know, knew somebody who was somebody listening, who may be going through that, like, what advice would you give them?
Again, I would, I would say, either try to find somebody that’s neutral between the two of you try to go through as much mediation as possible before you take some steps. But the bigger picture is it really depends on the maturity of the two people how focused they are towards raising the child and you know, not getting into all that stuff. That’s the biggest, like I said, the biggest thing is mediation. And that’s not as easy as it sounds, you know, what I’m saying I like to find a neutral partner between two opposing elements, you understand what I’m saying? Because either one is going to fall bias or whatever whatever so that’s why maybe go to your local pastor go find somebody fast my like a shelf or what have you, or whatever, whatever. But that would be something that would definitely be very helpful to our communities is mediated conflict resolution, you know, just knowing how to lead when I have a beef with somebody or upsized would be for me how to get the first other to enroll first and then to bring us down to earth where we actually listen to each other and get rid of the getting rid of the whatever animosity these negative energies exist.
What I what I will say is they are also a lot of community based organizations that help with um, fatherhood programs.
Yeah, and so so I actually had to go to one of those okay. Court Appointed so it was like a it was a three go for three sessions. It was like a fatherhood program. It’s pretty basic, you know, I’m saying you know, we sit in the room the father’s do a workbook talk about you know, parenting Father, you know, the points that well connecting with your children and stuff like that, and then you go through you have a graduation after that, that was called appointed. Okay, so I had to go through that process. Did you did you find value in that? I found value in it because I opened myself up found the value but you know, a couple of other people.
just going through the motions, you know what I’m so
once again, I want to thank So Ron T. Smith of the Smithsonian podcast, Smith with an F for coming through and sharing his personal experience with being a single dad and what it was like for him to go through the court system and actually gaining custody of his son. So thank you for listening and be Well, you’ve listened to another episode of The Black therapist podcast. Once again, I’m your host, Nikita Banks, licensed clinical social worker, and this is black therapists, podcast, formerly black in therapy. If you are looking for any information, any resources about today’s show, or if you just want to drop a line and say hey, and subscribe to our mailing list you can do so at our website, black therapist podcast. com, you can send us emails at Black therapists podcast at gmail. com. And if you enjoyed what you heard today, please leave like comments, share and subscribe because we want the show to grow as organically as we possibly can. And we cannot do that without you. Thank you for listening be well.