Towards the end of 2013, I decided that the time for lackadaisical living was over. I could walk the circle of methodical procrastination for the rest of my life, having gained all of the knowledge available and not an ounce of wisdom to go with it. What good is knowing better and not doing better? I thought about the progress I should have made with the guidance that I had been provided throughout my life; the results were inexcusable. Not judging by materialism and not saying that I’m some kind of villain, but when I stripped myself of excuses and thought about potential, no one would be to blame for any regrets but me alone.
Before 2014 started, I had already determined that by the end of that year, I would have a more clearcut outline of my life, my purpose and would begin to take strides to get there. I didn’t realize that what I had set out on was a search for self. I just wanted to cut ties with the unnecessaries and move forward with the necessities. Some were easy; some weren’t. I found that in a lot of areas I had to start completely over. A found a lot of areas where I was standing on nothing but dreams with nothing to back them. I spent a lot of time talking with my dad in 2014, who has never been afraid to tear me down with the truth, but only to build me back up in faith. I think my mom babied me more in 2014 than she had since I was five (literally). Nonetheless, by September/October, I was satisfied with the progress I had made and was looking forward to 2015 as a new completed version of myself.
And then I was faced with Ferguson…
I hate to keep bringing it up, but that was something that forced me to reevaluate myself, not just as this new me that I was creating, but as a young black male in America. It’s almost as if in the process of correctly rebuilding my identity, I forgot all about the black bricks. I had the Christian bricks for the foundation, the work ethic bricks, the bricks for planning and future goals, and even career bricks; my job was looking promising.
But out of the blue, the tragedies of Michael Brown and Eric Garner reminded me that all of those other bricks — except your faith — can be torn down and taken from you at any moment, for no reason at all… and forgotten.
It’s January 2015 now. The magnitude of that realization still has not worn off. I felt as though I had finally figured Reggie out; at least I had that much in life figured out. Then in the midst of that, I had to find out that I have multiple character profiles that must be used interchangeably in order for me to successfully maneuver through life while maintaining a certain moral standard and integrity.
Why can’t I just be Reggie?
If Eric Garner was my father, or if Michael Brown was my brother, and gas was $2 a gallon, I think I could afford to completely burn down a small state… But that’s the unrestricted black Reggie talking. Christian Reggie says, “That’s not the answer.” Black Reggie says, “This is why people think Christians and blacks are pushovers; I’ll take one for the team.” Then Oldest Brother Reggie says, “What kind of example are you trying to set?”
I’m one person that play numerous of roles to numerous people. Whether it’s a following role or a leading role, my actions always have to be the best for those around me. When it comes to a situation like that of Trayvon, Eric or Michael, before I react, I have to make sure that whatever I do falls within the guidelines of being a Christian first. After it clears that standard, I have to make sure that it is the best thing and representation for black people. If it then clears that standard, I have to make sure that it doesn’t set a bad example for anyone who may be looking up to me; even if it’s just my 14-year-old brother.
On top of that, the older I get, the more life changes for me, the more you will have to ensure that your next move is always your best move. One day, I’ll probably be married with children and grandchildren. It would be a shame if I couldn’t provide the same good examples that I was provided by my grandparents; living and lost.
All I’m saying is that there is so much that goes into being a black American man that much of it is easily overlooked. For a short period of time, I felt as though I could just go invincibly through life with this new plan and new me, and all I had to do was to do right and mind my own business. I guess for that small amount of time, I knew what it was like to be white. Trayvon was just simply walking home with a bag of Skittles and a drink; but Zimmerman thought something was wrong with that — and the court system backed his decision.
Of course with the grace of God, I could live a life without incidents of the sort. However, I’m black, and I can’t take the grace of God to myself and forget all of my other black brothers. Some kind of way, I believe finding yourself includes what you can do to help others. I guess I’ll find out in 2015.