Fatherless To Fatherhood: Meet Dion 'Showtime' Chavis
Chavis was raised by a single mom who worked three jobs to afford their middle-class lifestyle. He was a latchkey kid who came home to Nintendo and the radio and often spent afternoons taping over his mother’s gospel cassettes to record his favorite songs.
His life changed when he discovered hip-hop, which he says also took the place of a father-figure in his life after his own father was murdered when he was 11. Chavis spent more than a decade fighting for joint custody of his daughter, a fight which led him to advocating for and educating other fathers.
Now a father of two, Chavis shares his reflections on fatherhood and journey to
becoming a radio personality. He also sheds light on hip-hop culture and its influence on the masses.
On the average day before he goes to work:
I guess you would call it a “daytime dad.” During the day I’m at home with Maceo. My wife works during the day. So throughout the day it’s just he and I going through the motions as father and son. I’m changing every diaper, wiping up poop, making bottles, cleaning bottles.
On meeting his step-sister:
Growing up with just my mother’s perspective, I never really had my dad’s side of things ... There were some things she expressed to me that I didn’t know. Like I didn’t know some of his struggles with mental health … She told me that she knew that he loved her regardless of how bad he treated their mom and how bad he treated even my mom. She knew that when he died he loved and cared for all of his children, and he was always trying to fight for his children.
On growing up in the “golden era” of hip-hop:
In that era, there was balance. You had artists who were talking about manhood and fatherhood. There was an artist by the name of Ed O.G. and Da Bulldogs who wrote a song called “Be a Father to Your Child.” That was probably one of my first introductions to responsible parenthood … Growing up listening to folks like that, it gave us a sense of responsibility.
On how he never intended to be a radio personality:
I was walking around in the school [Norfolk State University] one time. They had auditions for their
radio station. I said: Well if I can get on at the hip-hop station, the college station, when artists come I can give them my beats, and I can kind of rub elbows with these guys and pass off my beat CDs and stuff like that.
On fighting for joint custody of his daughter:
A lot of times as men we tend to run away from these things because of the fact that quite honestly the system makes it harder for us as fathers to go and say we want to spend time with our child. It’s easier for me as a man if I were to go into a courtroom and say: I want to relinquish all my rights to the child than it is to go into a courtroom and say: I want joint custody.
On the fatherly advice he gave his daughter:
There’s three things if anything ever happens to me that I want you to remember. Number one: I want you to always stand up for yourself. Number two: I want you to always believe in yourself. And number three: I need you to always take care of your little brother.