by Candace Cooper

Fleetwood-Zephy-in-Zephaniah-169x300, ‘Zephaniah’, Culture Currents
Daddy Fleetwood and Zephy go shopping in “Zephaniah,” a film to encourage Black fatherhood and strengthen families.

“Zephaniah” is the title of a new documentary film directed by Robert “Fleetwood” Bowden. It is based on embracing the responsibilities of fatherhood and the joy that comes with the journey. In the project, Fleetwood will take an in-depth look into the relationship between a father and his toddler daughter.

He will also explore why so many fathers abandon their children and how the system plays a part in separating households. This documentary film also takes time out to salute and honor single mothers, while paying homage to them for maintaining the households of America and raising our future.

The goal of this film is to ignite a fire in fathers who have abandoned their children and give them the desire to reunite with their children. Another goal of this documentary film is to thank the fathers who stuck around to raise their children, even if the parents weren’t able to remain together as a couple. This is a healing project for a wound that cuts deeply into the households of so many communities.

This project is filled with the truth, and the truth doesn’t lie. This is a film focused on love and our future, while stressing the fact that we need strong willed men to raise our sons and guide our daughters. This documentary will create discussion and encourage outreach, which can only end up in the reunion of a family and an increase of strength within our community.

Candace Cooper: Fleetwood, how you doing, my man?

Robert “Fleetwood” Bowden: I can’t complain, better not honestly. I don’t have a right to complain about nothing.

Candace: In the last 20 years, you have accomplished a lot in the entertainment business. Can you share some of the things that you have accomplished?

Fleetwood: Well, I definitely been blessed with a few gifts allowing me to put out some work. In 1997, I released my first album from my group, Probable Cause. At the time, I was in Minneapolis, Minnesota, going to college and had just formed my first record label.

After that, I came home, back to the Bay Area, and released like six underground albums. Then in 2009, I released the story of my life, which I self-published, entitled “Hip Hop Tried 2 Kill Me.” I continue to write, and I released two more books, “Daddy Was uh Mobsta” and “Bloodtest.”

In 2014, I debuted as a director and did a documentary film entitled “I Just Wanna Ball.” It is about McClymonds High School’s girls basketball team in Oakland. In 2014, I released my second documentary, “Da Cotton Pickas,” a sharecropping story. Now, I’m on my third documentary film, “Zephaniah.”

Candace: Earlier, I heard you speaking about the greatest day in your life. When was that?

Fleetwood: The greatest day in my life was the day Zephaniah Miley Rose Bowden was born. She is my miracle, my gift, my reason, my motivation, my purpose, my baby, my daughter. I love her more than french fries ever loved ketchup, straight up. Only thing I love more than her is God.

Candace: So, what exactly is the origin and definition of your daughter’s name, and why did you choose it?

Fleetwood: It’s the 36th book in the Old Testament. It means God’s treasure. I wanted her to understand she has a direct line to God. She’s his treasure. He will always protect her.

Candace: So what is your opinion of what Trump did at the border separating those kids from their families?

Fleetwood: Well, to separate a family is evil. Even though he tried to fix it, it just shows you the type of leadership this country has and the administration that’s behind him. In this documentary, it was important that I covered the trauma of not having your dad in your life, and that’s what I set out to do.

Candace: Do you think America is set up to break up households?

Fleetwood: One of the biggest resources for economic income in America is incarceration, modern day slavery aka free labor. They are no longer making license plates. It’s technology now.

Hell, a whole small town eats off a prison complex, and they start recruiting for prison in middle schools. Most of these kids come from single parent homes in the urban community where there is a lack of education and opportunity by design.

Moms is trying to keep the lights on and food in the fridge, and she is absent from the home a lot, leaving the children to make decisions which lead to consequences. Alotta times, it’s bad decisions that are made that lead to an early arrival stay in juvenile hall, which leads to county jail then eventually prison.

This is a nonstop cycle, feeding America’s justice system. That’s why they do anything they can to keep the man out the home to prevent him from guiding his children, in my opinion.

Candace: So, you were raised by a single mother. How do you feel about that?

Fleetwood: Honestly, in the urban community, I don’t know where we would be without our sisters. They been holding us down for years. I admire them, cause I know it ain’t easy, but they keep going no matter what.

So often, beat down by life and disrespected, it’s amazing the strength they have, unbelievable. So, with this film, I definitely had to take the time to pay homage to them. A special salute, fasho!

Candace: You and your daughter’s mother are separated. How is co-parenting going with your daughter’s mom?

Fleetwood: This was a very delicate and important aspect of the film that I wanted to show. Personally, for me, it has helped me grow to humble myself.

I realize one day of miscommunication with her moms, me tripping with her, could be the most important day in my daughter’s life. So, I understand it ain’t about me no more. My baby didn’t ask to come here and, honestly, without her mom, I would have never had a daughter.

My goal is to do what they say can’t be done, and that’s to get along, co-parent, raise our daughter. That’s what I wanted to show in this film.

Love, not hate, for my child’s mother, hopefully, to inspire brothers to try to heal that wound. I got alotta homies who hate their child’s mother, and it only hurts the child, not the mother, true story.

Candace: What’s your opinion on a man abandoning his children?

Fleetwood: Well, not to disrespect no one, but any male who abandons his children has yet to understand the definition of a man, because, in my opinion, the definition of a man is one who takes care of his family.

Candace: Any last words?

Fleetwood: It’s never too late, homey. Find your children, and tell them you sorry for leaving them. Then, listen to them; feel their pain. Reunite with your babies, bruh; it ain’t too late.

Watch the trailer to the film: “ZEPHANIAH | Accepting the joys and engagement of fatherhood” at https://youtu.be/tnI_55z-3QU. Thank you!

Thank you!

For more info on the film, contact the director: Fleetwood_189@hotmail.com. Candace Cooper, a Houston-based writer, can be reached at dominatingforce.blab@gmail.com.