AKIYA'S STORY - THE IMPORTANCE OF FATHERHOOD
Father’s Day was always a interesting day for me. My father was incarcerated from when my mother was just three months pregnant with me until I was 17 years old. Most of the memories with my father started from prison visiting halls and once a month trailer visits. Father’s day was really a regular day to me and oddly enough not really celebrating the day until later years felt normal to me. I celebrated my first Father’s day with my dad when I was 17 just days away from graduating high school. For some children who have had a parent in prison being away from them is the hardest but for me it wasn’t quite the same.
My father being in prison for my whole life was normal in my brain because that was the only type of relationship I had ever known for him and I to have. Having a long distance father wasn’t so bad so I thought. Yet what was more harder than I ever imagined was his actual release. I had been accustomed only to my mother and under her rules. The thought of my father being free brought me a weird mix of surrealness and anxiety. I was not quite sure to how to act around my father when he was released. I wanted the hugs and to call him but some days it felt unnatural. I wanted to build a relationship but not the strict and authoritative that I had from my mother. Often I would forget to call my dad for days because I was so conditioned to speaking to him once a week.
No one ever really warns you how it will be to reunite with your incarcerated parent after being gone for all of your life. I never knew that my normalcy of having my father in prison was not normal in the least bit. More importantly, I never knew how much I had missed out on the mental, emotional and physical presence of having my father as a young woman. Love consistently from a man ,who truly cared and wanted the absolute best for me, was the piece of my puzzle finally put back together. No matter how long we have gone without our father we still need them to return home so that we never again lose touch of what real unconditional love feels like.
Akiya McKnight is a writer/producer who has been embarking on her film career for the last 5 years. She has written and/or produced 5 film festival favorite shorts SERVED, Black Mask, Drift, Bone Deep and Daddy’s Home. In 2017, she took an innovative leap and produced a scripted podcast called District Queen. Akiya has worked on productions such as Survivors Remorse, ATLANTA and MTV's Scream Series. She currently works at Tyler Perry studios in the production department and is working on two feature scripts. Akiya plans to tell full spectrum stories of women and minority experience from all over the world. Her mission is to entertain, educate and enlighten through her films.