Journalist dad proves representation doesn’t just matter in the newsroom

Outside of making sure that we are represented, Oliphant’s biggest obstacle is navigating the images that his children see within his own home.

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

As the television news manager for FOX13 in Memphis, TN, Kennan Oliphant is responsible for how content is delivered on air, online and on social media. This role, of course, comes with a heavy responsibility, often shared by other journalists of color who are responsible for making sure that we are represented and reflected (and not just in a negative way), within today’s current news cycle.

Outside of ensuring responsible Black representation in the media, Oliphant’s biggest obstacle is navigating the images that his children see within his own home. As a father to two, he has his work cut out for him. But he is doing it, and making it look easy.

In an interview with theGrio for our #ThisIsBlackFatherhood series, Oliphant shares how fatherhood has changed him, the biggest lessons he has learned, and the differences between a “father” and a “dad.”

theGrio: What year did you become a father?

Kennan Oliphant: I became a father in July of 2011.


TG: What are the names/ages of your children?

KO: Kairyn (6), Lennox (4).


TG: What does fatherhood mean to you?

KO: The first thing that pops into my head is responsibility. The good responsibility that makes everything in your life obsolete because you want to give your all to God and your family. It also means nurturing humor, dedication, kindness and love for themselves and others. Fatherhood means teaching how to love, understand and be nonjudgmental and open to change. To me, there has been no greater gift than being a father and hearing my children call me “Daddy.”


TG: Has Fatherhood changed you at all? If so, how?

KO: Big changes have happened since my children were born. Selfishness flew out of the window. Everything I work for and do is for my family. I think about them when I get out of bed to when I go to sleep. I feel a pressure to make sure I provide their needs and sprinkle in a couple of their wants. They challenge me in terms of wanting to know the answers to any and everything due to their inquisitiveness. I guess with me being a journalist, they get it honest.


TG: What’s the biggest lesson(s) you’ve learned since becoming a father?

KO: I’ve learned so many lessons, and continue to learn every day. I’ve learned that I have more patience than I thought I had. When it came to teaching my son to ride a bike or my daughter doing her homework, I look for any positive feedback to give them so they feel encouraged to keep trying whatever task is in front of them. I’ve relearned how to look at the world with kid-like eyes. So many things we take for granted as adults, you forget the smallest things can give you pleasure or make you smile. Finally, and this might sound funny, but I’ve learned how to pray. I’m not just praying for me, but also for my kids to be covered in the light, life and love of God and to be protected.


TG: What’s the biggest difference between a father and dad?

KO: To me, there isn’t a difference. I am father, dad, daddy, big guy, Superman, to my kids.


TG: Did your father have a big presence in your life? If so, what were some of the lessons that you learned from him, that you put into practice once you became a father?

KO: My father was a HUGE presence in my life growing up and an even bigger presence in my life as an adult. As a kid, he was there for me at every step of the way. He never missed a marching band event, track meets, karate tournaments, nothing. He taught me the value of hard work and how to be strong in all things. I watched him get up and go to work every day, even during a hurricane once (and he’s not a first responder). As an adult, I look to him for so many answers that I feel like I’m a kid again. My relationship with my father is stronger today as I appreciate the things he did for me growing up. I want to be just like my dad. He’s my Superman, best friend, fraternity brother and the guy I look to because I trust him. If I can be half of what he is, I’ll be a good father too.