I Was Looking For Me; I Found Black

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.

Complicated.

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.

Choose One: Life, Liberty or The Pursuit of Happiness?

As of October 2014, it would not be farfetched to declare that civil tensions in America are reaching highs past diplomatic control. While most of the world looks to the United States to play pivotal roles in resolving global issues like the ISIS regime and the Ebola outbreak, little do they know that we may be destroying ourselves from the inside out.

The city of Ferguson, Missouri is on the brink of mayhem following the death of Michael Brown. Brown was an unarmed black teenager shot to death by a white police officer. Though the details are unclear of what actually happened, the number of shots fired is enough to show that something is amiss with the officer’s story. (I will attempt to be as unbiased as possible while getting to my point, but the evidence is overwhelming.) The death of Michael Brown comes right after the country was starting to settle after the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Young Martin was unarmed; Zimmerman, an out-of-control wannabe vigilante. (I apologize if I sound a bit partial to the victim, but I have a soft spot for innocent children.) And then, there is the shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Davis was killed by Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old white man with a history of domestic abuse from multiple wives. This woman beater thought that Davis and his friends were playing their music too loud in their SUV. See, the only problem with that is public volume regulations are monitored for a particular jurisdiction and NOT an individual. Therefore, the individual being discomforted, should bear the discomfort until the traffic light turns green. (Whatever… There is no unbiased view I can hold being an unarmed black male myself.) The point that I’m making is that the White vs. Black problem – that has never really gone anywhere – is being magnified with the deaths of these boys. There are other cases like these and the cumulative stress that they are putting on the nation is coming to a boil. This is for a whole different post though; I could go on forever.

While a majority of the nation is teetering on the edge of a race war, another group is trying to get their pieces of pie from the rich that keep getting richer. The middle class is being methodically squeezed towards the bottom of the money pile by the rich who wants to keep everyone beneath them. The banking industry is stealing money; corporations are sending business and actual employment overseas; and politicians are stealing and laundering taxpayer money like it can’t be used. When we talk about the issue of rich and poor, there is no color except green; the dollar and who has it is all that matters. The economy has been trying to rebound for nearly a decade. However, millions of lives have been destroyed since the beginning of the recession. While we all wait for progress to be made, prices of everyday necessities continue to rise, while wages stay about the same – at least for those who can actually find employment. Foreclosures, unemployment, and a complete loss of everything can cause a man to take extreme measures. People who wouldn’t normally steal may have to resort to crime just to survive. Have you watched Fun with Dick and Jane? Well imagine that attitude being taken on by tens of thousands of families, but with real desperation. If the gap between the rich and the poor continue to grow, that scenario will not be much of a stretch. The bad thing is that the poor and the middle class outnumber the rich by a long shot. So if the economy were to take another heavy hit, I doubt that people will quietly sit by again while corporations are bailed out, and the blame is shifted to a single Bernie Madoff to be the fall guy for billions of missing dollars. Another bout of financial instability like that and the common man may rise give the government more than they are equipped to deal with.

Unless…

The government consist of a network of police forces who have been equipped with military weaponry used to terrorize international enemies. The real division is not between blacks and whites. That is not to say that race is not issue. Race is definitely an issue, but when looking at the current state and progression of issues in the country, blacks and whites alike will soon realize that the upper class does not see a difference in poor people. The sooner we realize that we are all being victimized, the sooner we can come to a solution without reaching any type of civil war. I may sound extreme by considering a civil war, but why is it that small towns are having to fight against the use of armored tanks provided by the government? If this equipment was issued by the government in case of terrorist emergencies, why do we see it so often? It seems to me that the police are very much prepared for civil unrest. At the slightest sound of a protest, full S.W.A.T., riot gear and armored vehicles show up out of nowhere. Remember Occupy Wall Street?

The United States Constitution has given citizens the rights to defend those rights which were granted by the Declaration of Independence. In other words, I have the freedom of speech to speak out against the infringement of my pursuit of happiness. I can honestly say, African-Americans will be better equipped to deal with the reality of a complete government-controlled society simply because of our history. I am not proud of the fact that, generally, we have been conditioned to obey laws and its enforcers through centuries of slavery, to segregation, to where we are now, even if it’s just simple discrimination. The media has made a point to prove that black youths are targeted in some way, shape, form or fashion. It seems that the rest of the United States was under the impression that this wave of unjustified killing is a revamp of 1991, when in fact, it never ceased. If push comes to shove, young black men who can possibly be mistaken as thugs will not be the only ones being gunned down. These testosterone-jacked hired guns will do what they must to protect their investors from anyone who may pose a threat.

While the ignorance of racism runs rampant and kills innocent people, we as  Americans should come together as a people and realize we are slowly being deprived of our “unalienable rights”. We are at the point where life obviously does not count for much anymore. Liberty will be lost in the exchange for the illusion of being free. The pursuit of happiness will be replaced with the pursuit to survive. Death, imprisonment and the pursuit of survival is how our Declaration of Independence is being rewritten before our very eyes. There may not be a paper trail for it, but we all know that actions speak louder than words.

On a final note, I do realize that The Declaration of Independence and The United States Constitution were not originally written to include African-Americans, neither have we been treated as such, even though amendments have been made to accommodate us. There has always been a skewed societal scale on which we live everyday that you would have to be of our race to understand; therefore, I will not defend this any further. Nonetheless, I speak as we are all completely equal, because if militia versus civilian actually takes shape, whites or blacks don’t stand a frozen chance in hell of overcoming that without countless casualties. We stand a much better chance united as a nation and not as an ethnicity.

I do not want to have to choose between life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness… I want all three.