Week 19 Recap

This week actually ended on an uphill slope. Most weeks, I would have been worn down by the daily struggles that I have admittedly and ignorantly accepted as life, that the recap is best post of the week. I’m not ashamed of it though. Going forward, I will be scheduling a block of time to actually unwind. It may be daily, every other day or half of a Saturday or something. I’ll sort that out this week so that I’ll have it in effect by February (I already have the whole month of February scheduled; excited about that.)

Tuesday, January 20, I took an educational field trip to the movies to watch Selma. I had plans on writing a review of the portrayal of struggles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his supporting cast to get the Voting Rights Act passed via the marches in Selma, Alabama. Well, I went and saw the movie, but the review did not go as planned. I have an incredibly hard time sitting through depictions of the struggles of slavery or the Civil Rights Movement; so until Tuesday night, I never did. However, I’m glad I gave it a watch. It was an excellent, realistic and accurate reenactment of the movement. The directors, actors and casting crew were all excellent. My review turned out to be just a screen shot of the notes that I took during the movie. That was something new for me — sharing notes — because I really did not have the mental strength to go in depth about the film. Those are the types of emotions that I can’t just close off when I feel like it, so from the start of the movie until I went to bed, the emotions flowed… and you ended up with a screen shot of halfwitted notes. I laughed when I read back over them the next day.

Wednesday, January 21, I literally had to battle all day to find my regular optimistic mode of thinking. The day went on on and on without an upside, until I had finished Blogging vs. Journaling. It was something that I had taken a couple notes on and never got around to. Since I needed an easy write, that I needed not put a lot of new thought into, I pull it from my notebook and posted it. It was basically about how blogging can easily turn into journaling even if that had not been the initial purpose for which you created it. Since my blog started as a medium to share cultural relevance the way that I — a young black Christian male in the south of the United States — see it, some things will naturally take on a journalistic style. I have to make sure that it falls within the guidelines of relevance that I’ve set though and be sure not to vent, because that’s not not my point. My point is to share, encourage and make aware that there are people who fall outside of the stereotypes, but still being very very much engrossed in the culture. So basically, my blogging is about being me, and journaling is whining about being me… and I’m not a whiner. 🙂

Yesterday, January 23, I wrote I Was Looking For Me; I Found Black. This was basically about the path that I took through 2014 to become a better person to make way for a better future. In doing so, I neglected the parts of me that the rest of society sees first; and that’s being black. Honestly, as strange as it might sound, I became so focused on me, and what I needed to do, and me me me, that I actually forgot that by simply being black, all of those plans could be taken away from me just as fast as I could think them up. It was the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases that reminded me. “I could be killed for no reason at all, forgotten and my killer could go on living with no justice being served. If it could happen to one black man, it could happen to me. If it could happen to any man, it could happen to me.” This was my realization that I needed to adjust me re-identification process to include someone other than myself. We live for each other; living any other way is selfish and is not Christ-like.

I look forward to the rest of 2015, but I’m really looking forward to February. I know, you’re probably tired of hearing about February, but I can’t help it. I’m getting a lot off my chest and a lot of barriers are coming down next month. It’s nothing bad or extreme, but I’m a person of conservative nature; at first. The more comfortable I get with anything or anybody, I’m actually one of the most liberal. So when it comes to blogging, I’m reaching the point where I’m okay saying some things that I dared not say in the beginning.

With that being said, I hope you have a very enjoyable week sharing perspectives, showing compassion and spreading your love. I know it’s not always easy; trust me I know… But any other way is just not as fulfilling. 🙂

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.

Week 11 Recap

Well, week 11 is done. I really enjoy this time of year, but it can get ridiculously busy — especially if you stick a major holiday in the middle of the week. I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving giving thanks to God and enjoying it with family and friends.

The week started with the Ferguson decision. Darren Wilson was held completely unaccountable for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. NFL football player and outspoken Christian, Benjamin Watson, shared his thoughts on the situation. I don’t think there were better words to describe the overall feeling of myself and probably a large percentage of people across the United States. There was also some CCN footage which was cut short for some unknown reason as well while he was explaining that the state of the nation may be because of the lack of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe it was coincidence. Nonetheless, I gained a role model as a Christian. If he can preach and stand by the Gospel as a professional football player in the spotlight and with millions to lose, if he becomes subject to attack for his views, there is no reason I should not be able to do the same with the little I have. I would rather stand for what I believe with the little I have, than to gain the whole world and compromise on Christ. If only one person is saved from the example that Benjamin Watson set on behalf of Michael Brown, his death will not have been in vain. However, we will continue to keep the city and families involved in our prayers.

On November 26th and 28th I wrote on Quality and Quantity. I had fun with these; discussing what writers have to deal with All. Of. The. Time! I got some good feedback from other writers who checked in on the topics. In the first post I wrote based on the fact that I prefer quality every time over quantity. The post was short; only slightly more that 600 words, but it took two hours for me to complete. However, the post I wrote to illustrate the disadvantage of quantity writing only took about forty minutes to complete. It was more words, but it was so poorly written that I almost recanted on the idea. I got excellent feedback though, and I believe it really did a great job at getting my point across.

I realized though, that I did not get the usual feedback from my regular readers. Then I realized I had I only addressed an audience of writers this week. That’s one of the downsides of having multiple interests though. There is never enough time to address everything. I learned a little bit from the other writers though, and I really enjoyed it — probably because I write. Another thing too, that I will probably address this week, is that writers have to read! That’s how we get better at our craft and stay inspired. Reading is just as necessary to a writer as writing is, and I think it’s overlooked most of the time. The problem is though, that it’s hard enough to find time to write, so unfortunately, I may have to take some time off just to catch up on reading.

Well that is all for this week. I can never thank you all enough for reading, the encouragement and support. I am really looking forward to 2015 and the support that I get from everyone on a weekly basis makes anything seem possible. I had someone tell me this week that they read the entire Thirty Seconds Ago… series. Even though it may not be the core of who I am as a writer, the fact that I captured their attention and held it throughout the entire series means a lot to me; and I appreciate them telling me that.

Thank you guys for another great week. Remember to keep an open perspective next week and look to show some compassion and love. You may change someone else’s perspective on life with just a smile or a kind word.

Ferguson Riots

Last night, Officer Darren Wilson walked away free of all charges in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown — The city of Ferguson is still burning.

Rarely do I neglect my opinion on what should have happened, but in instances like these when everyone is already decided and have a straight answer, there is no need for persuasion from another.

Yesterday evening at seven I went to the store to pick up a few items before the announcement was made at 8pm. Not that I was in a rush to see the announcement, but so that I would be back inside before the announcement was made. Yesterday on my way home from work, from downtown Atlanta to the park in my neighborhood, police and ambulances lined my route as if this was Ferguson. At the store, a few employees were allowed to go home early for the same reasons; no one really wanted to be out for fear of rioting.

I went back home and watched the announcement. At the first signs of rioting, I went to bed. The fact that destruction is thought to be an option for improvement shows that we are missing something somewhere. The greatest changes that have ever taken place were done peacefully, from as far back to Moses leading The Great Exodus, up until as recently as Dr. Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights Movement. I hate to preach things that I don’t feel I could preach, because if I was placed under the right circumstances I may have potential to be a Hall of Fame rioter; but it doesn’t negate that it’s wrong.

So, I don’t know if we lack leaders or we’ve just become to rowdy to be led. It seems that at the request of Michael Brown’s parents, the night should have never seen those extremes. We already lost what should have been justice for Brown. Then I feel as though we gave the nation exactly what they wanted on the other end — a show of unruly people that need more restrictions and monitoring and less freedom. In rioting we only hurt ourselves.

It’s a cloudy day in Perspective Park.

Week 10 Recap

I completed week ten with the omission of yesterday’s post. No matter how much I read over it, reworded it, completely changed it, I just couldn’t get it to the point where it clearly conveyed what I wanted to say. Therefore, it was scrapped. It did, however, prompt me to address the issue of “Quantity or Quality?”, which will be posted next week.

Last week was much needed as far as blogging was concerned. I had not had a relaxed week of fun rambling, since week six. As far as Perspective Park the blog goes, I never want to become so involved in social issues that I neglect the imaginative and strictly fun sides of writing. Writing for me was a hobby first; through storytelling and creating. This week, I got back around to it even though the last blog was not posted.

I did the previous recap a day late, on Monday the 17th. On Wednesday, the 19th, I discussed the importance of keeping friendships strong with those that we do not see as often as our day-to-day friends. For most people that have those relationships though, you may not need that type of attention because that’s the chemistry of it, but check on it to make sure. True friends are not always easy to come by and it would be silly to lose ones that you already have because of lack of communication. I can’t tell you how to treat your friends, but I know you don’t want to lose any.

On Thursday, November 20th, I did a “Thirty Seconds Ago…” post recalling that weird moment when my dad discovered something about me that he hadn’t noticed previously. It’s a good read and I would hate to give away the punchline. So if you are interested, check it out — “Thirty Seconds Ago… Transitional Awkwardness”. I don’t mind laughing at myself and accepting my flaws. I find that it plays a part in keeping one with a sense of humility, and it’s funny! Side note: If it is not rude, crude, or nude and in good spirits — I WILL LAUGH AT YOU! Laughter is a part of life that I will continue to enjoy… thoroughly. I will not be stripped of it, even at my own expense.

Unfortunately, the occurrences taking place in Ferguson, Missouri are no laughing matter. Depending on the outcome of the case in the shooting death of Michael Brown by a white police officer, Ferguson could see many dark days ahead. That goes either way too, whether the decision is guilty or not guilty. Whatever the outcome is, will cause waves across the nation. It would be nice if we could keep the city, both families, and the residents of Missouri in our thoughts and prayers as the time of decision draws near.

No matter what happens next week, try to keep a positive perspective and show compassion wherever you can. Another thing too, is that it may not always be easy to stay encouraged drawing strength from within yourself. Make sure you have a friend or two that will encourage you and support you with the love of Christ. You may be surprised at how much easier it makes your day.

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.