Shanetris Campbell has lived both a life of privilege and one of poverty. As the eldest daughter of Miami hip-hop legend and political activist, Luther Campbell, Shanetris (she goes by “Shane”) has experienced the impact of not having a consistent father figure can have on one’s upbringing.
With her new book coming out, I Am Not My Father’s Daughter, Shane sat down with theGrio to discuss her father, childhood, single motherhood and what it takes to survive with the odds against you.
theGrio: Tell us a little bit about growing up with an estranged father.
Shane Campbell: They were lows and highs…I got to see what it was like to live on both ends of the spectrum. My mother’s side…and even more so my grandmother raised me in the projects of Liberty City of Miami. It was extremely hard, especially in comparison to where my dad and the rest of his family grew accustomed to living in a mansion.
What were some of the differences environment wise?
Just the exposure in general and the different type of people I was around. I just really enjoyed being able to have my own room, going to the golf course, and enjoying what my dad had on a daily basis. I used to hate going home with my mom.
Your father, on numerous occasions, has refused to claim you as his child and when questioned in public he’s referred to you as his ‘sperm donation’. What, if any resentment do you have towards your father?
It was tough growing up…knowing where you were raised and knowing where he was living at. It broke my heart for him to refer to me as a sperm donation. But I still loved him. He is still my dad.
There’s an excerpt from your book where your dad owes your mother back child support payments and he pays her in pennies. I can only imagine what was going through your head at the time.
It was hard. No reason to lie about it. But I still knew deep down inside my dad still loved me.
Recognition from your father aside, some may think money is your real motivation. What do you say to those skeptics?
It was never about the money. He was my dad. I just wanted to bring my family together.
How is your relationship with your younger siblings?
Our relationship at times is estranged, but we all share the same blood. I love all my brothers and sisters. I guess I could be considered to be the black sheep being that I didn’t grow up the same way as they did.
Seeing your mother struggle with raising you at an early age, did you feel you were continuing the single parent household cycle of raising your own son?
I did, but I made my choices in raising Victor on my own. I was in a very dark place—which I mention in my book when I began to raise Victor—but I don’t have any regrets because at the end of the day those choices led me to be where I’m at now. My son, my journey and my organization are the reasons I wrote this.
Tell us about your foundation.
Shane’s Precious Heart Foundation is an organization that provides care and services to single parent families. Being a single parent isn’t an excuse for you not to succeed. At Precious Heart, we want to give you the tools and mentorship needed for you to become successful.
After your reading your book, what do you hope readers will take from you and personal story?
I hope my readers will understand that no matter what obstacle or personal hardship that came into my life, I was a survivor. My story is a happy one that I hope can inspire others that have been or in current like situations.