Charles and Jackie Tillman Interview with
Sarah Paddack from Libertyville Area Moms to Inspire Change
Where are you from and how long have you lived in town? What brought you to the area?
Jackie- Born in San Diego and moved around my whole life. My dad served in the Military for 30 years. Charles- Born on the south side of Chicago. His dad was in the army and he moved around too.
Football brought Charles back here and I came here because of Charles.
Do you have child(ren)? Age(s)
We have 4. Talya is 14, Tiana is 12, Tysen is 11 and Tessa 7. Our nephew lives with us now and he’s 16.
What are your favorite things to do in the area with and without your kids? Family friendly restaurant? Date night?
We really don’t do too much. Our schedules are pretty busy when there isn’t a virus. All the kids play sports and are involved in everything and Charles and I both work. We do love movies and that might be one of our favorite things.
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, foundation, creative endeavor or in the corporate world? Please share!
Our foundation is where most of our spare time goes. Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation is near to our hearts and helping families in the hospitals is where we pour a lot of time and money into.
How has COVID-19 impacted the Cornerstone Foundation?
It’s been tough. We had to cancel our big events this year. We are still helping families but it will be a rough year for sure.
How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
The community helps us spread the word and helps us raise money. We need peoples help and the community has always been there for us for over 15 years now.
What is your proudest moment in terms of the foundation?
The Mothers Brunch is a very big moment for us every year. It’s a bonus mothers day and seeing moms connect is so rewarding. Watching Charles win man of the year for his hard work was amazing too.
What would you tell other parents going through their child being hospitalized?
To stay strong, to lean on family and friends. To ask for help and to feel all the feelings because it comes with so many and you have to allow it.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Charles and I met in 7th grade. People are always surprised by that.
My degree is in Interior Design. I’m Native American, Spanish and white. I played basketball in college.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another parent?
To ask yourself how today is and if today is good don’t worry about tomorrow. Day by day.
What are your favorite places to travel near and far and why?
We love traveling far. Anywhere we can go we go. We love Greece, Croatia is amazing. SO many places!
Which podcasts and/or TED Talks inspire you the most?
Malcolm Gladwell is one of Charles favorites to listen to.
Tell me about your favorite book/s.
Charles- Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson. Stevenson has an undying love to help his fellow man and it’s inspiring to me.
Click below to purchase this book that will be a movie starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx! (LAM is an Amazon Affiliate and your puchase supports this website.)
What is your Ask? How can the community help support you at this time?
Just help spread the word. Donate if they can when it comes to the foundation. When it comes to racism have hard talks. Really look into both sides. It’s easy to constantly read stuff that fits your narrative and I think it’s important to go outside of your comfort zone.
With the recent death of George Floyd and protests, how are you talking to your kids about what is on the news?
This isn’t the first time we have talked to our kids. George wasn’t the first and Charles is a black man and has experienced a lot of racism in his life. These are conversations he’s always had with our kids. We live in a white area and our kids see the difference. I think Charles gets a pass because he’s an athlete but he knows and feels the difference. We have seen the real side of people in this process and had to talk to our kids about that especially.
Can you share a bit about the conversations you’ve had with them (or will have with them) about race, in general?
I think it’s important for you to understand that families of color have these conversations regardless what’s in the news. The conversation goes a little like this… some people might treat you differently because of the color of your skin. Even though it’s unfair, you have to try and change the narrative of how they perceive you. We talk to them about getting pulled over, making sure they have their receipt when buying items, things that a white family might not have to warn their kids about.
We need to walk in your shoes to be more aware of the differences you’re faced with daily and how you have to inform your children to stay safe. What are any examples of racism (whether overt or systemic) that you’ve experienced as a family or personally?
Charles experiences- he’s been pulled over numerous times for “traffic violations” Charles has experienced racism his entire life. This is not new to him. The first time he was called the N word by a white person was in 3rd grade.
- Ordered out of the car and searched while having his arm in a sling because he just had shoulder surgery.
- Accused of stealing items out of a target in Buffalo Grove.
- Accused of being in a gang during a traffic stop
- Accused of being in a stolen car
Systemic racism is a real thing and I think people need to see beyond their comfort and really look at how our country was built. I Grow is an organization in Chicago and they are doing amazing work in their community. Redlining is real and they are in an area that they can’t even drink the water because there is so much led in it. They can’t buy property in their own community because it is bank owned. There are issues we don’t see because we aren’t looking and they don’t affect us.
We loved watching you play for the Chicago Bears! Did you experience racism in professional sports? Was it a place everyone came together for the love of sport, or did you experience racism regularly or at all in the NFL?
I personally didn’t really experience it as much in the NFL, he still experienced it outside the NFL while being in the NFL.
I always thought it was best to raise children who did not see color. But perhaps this doesn’t actually help fight racism and it’s better to address it. What direct approach should I as white parent take to raise white children who support anti-racism and are allies?
I think our differences are what makes us unique and beautiful and it’s okay for kids to know we have them. I think exposing our children to more is best. I think talking about culture and differences is good. I think having hard conversations are good. My kids have heard comments about their brown skin and when they have their hair braided everyone wants to touch it. Buy books with kids that don’t look like your kids.
What advice would you give to Black parents dealing with children’s anxiety, questions and more (during this time and always)?
To have conversations with them. To express understanding and love. I think talking is so important, checking in.
What resources do you recommend for everyone and white and Black people specifically? I’d like to know your suggestions on what books to read, what books to read to my children, who to follow on social meida, what podcasts to listen to for adults and kids etc.
Ibram Kendi has a couple of really good books. Stamped, Antiracist Baby is a good one for little kids. How to be an Antiracist for adults.
*LAM is an Amazon Affiliate and if you purchase through the links below a portion goes back into supporting this website, which is my small business.
I have been watching Share the Mic Now with Katie Couric and Eunique Jones who created “Because of Them We Can” during Black History Month. Who are your family’s favorite heroes in Black History?
Malcolm X because he wasn’t afraid to speak and he educated his people. He was so smart and I think that scared a lot of people. He had a rough upbringing and once you see his life as a whole it’s very inspirational.
Do you have local and national businesses/restaurants/foundations/organizations you’d like to highlight that are lead by Black business owners?
There are so many restaurants in Chicago that we love.
How can the residents and community of Libertyville, Chicagoland, and the world do better today, tomorrow and on-going? This is not a box to be checked, but rather a marathon to focus on over a lifetime.
You have to understand the past to understand what is happening now.
Search yourself and see what you might have going on inside. We all have stuff and I think empathy and understanding go a long way.
I think people make things political too often and racism is a heart issue. We really need to search our hearts.
What can the Libertyville Area Moms website and social media do better? What voices can I amplify?
I think supporting black businesses in this area is huge. I think starting this conversation is huge. People need to start these conversations.
What is your hope for your children and their children?
To experience more love and less racism.